Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned Books Week

As another week of writing ends, I thought I should take a moment and express my deep gratitude that I live in a nation that allows, and at it's essential core, promotes free expression of words, thoughts, and ideas.  One can write (and now easily publish on the internet) whatever they want in this land, whether someone else likes it or not.  And if that someone else does not like it, they can try to restrict the creative works.  It is nice that they want to protect the rest of us from what they are afraid of, but like an overbearing mother who hovers over her child, never letting him try on the world, such restrictions lead to one of two places; a child who is weak and frail and cannot appreciate the richness of life, or a child who is very very angry, and eventually lashes out with hatred in his heart.  I'm not sure the majority of us in this nation want to create either of those children.

And anyway, it seems like most writers, artists and creative types have enough self-doubt and self-criticism to last a lifetime. We don't really need a narrow minded committee of folks trying to limit to whom art reaches. 

This week has been Banned Books Week.  For a list of challenged classics go here.  For 2010's list of most challenged books go here.  I've read quite a few banned books, and I tell you what I'm glad I did.  They have made my life all the richer.
Thanks to the ALA for this Banned Books Week Proclamation.
WHEREAS, the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms; and
WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of that freedom, and the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one's interest examined or scrutinized by others; and
WHEREAS, the freedom to read is protected by our Constitution; and
WHEREAS some individuals, groups, and public authorities work to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries of materials reflecting the diversity of society; and
WHEREAS, both governmental intimidation and the fear of censorship cause authors who seek to avoid controversy to practice self-censorship, thus limiting our access to new ideas; and
WHEREAS, every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of American society and leaves it less able to deal with controversy and difference; and
WHEREAS, Americans still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression, and can be trusted to exercise critical judgment, to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe, and to exercise the responsibilities that accompany this freedom; and
WHEREAS, intellectual freedom is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture; and
WHEREAS, conformity limits the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend; and
WHEREAS, the American Library Association's Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year as a reminder to Americans not to take their precious freedom for granted; and
WHEREAS, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that I celebrate the American Library Association's Banned Books Week 2011 and be it further
RESOLVED, that I encourage all libraries and bookstores to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society; and be it further
RESOLVED, that I encourage all people to read freely, now and forever.

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