Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ban This!

ALA's Banned Books Week is taking place from September 30th through October 6th, but one fabulous book blogger has taken it upon herself to extend it throughout the entire month of September. Hosted by Donna at Bites, Ban This! is a feature meant to promote the reading of banned books by engaging bloggers and asking them to spotlight these novels however they see fit.

Because I am so vehemently against book banning, it would be easy for me to create a blog post about its evils and the threats banners pose. However, anything I could say has been said before, so I am going to try something a little different. I am going to explore the other side of the issue. I am going to write a post from the point of view of a pro-restriction person. And I invite you to join me on my trip to the dark side.

Here it goes.
Life is full of warning messages.

Streets are littered with stoplights, construction cones, yield signs, and other driving directions. BEST BY SEP 31 2012 was stamped onto the jug of milk I poured onto my cereal this morning.  "Smile! You're being recorded!" I am often cautioned when I enter a premise with video surveillance. All of these things are meant to prevent harm, and, when followed, they generally do a good job of doing so. So why should books of all things be allowed to run freely without any kind of warning label whatsoever? Here is the answer: they should not.

Books are the most dangerous form of media for children, teens and even adults today, simply because one is not warned about what they may contain. When a movie, television show, or video game contains graphic or explicit content, a rating that reflects that is slapped on and lets the viewer or gamer know what he or she is getting into. However, a novel could contain even more dangerous material and be published free of any precautionary messages. There is absolutely no reason that books should be the one form of entertainment exempt from this common courtesy.

As a result of this, there is a misconception surrounding literature that it is acceptable to include questionable content and get away with it. A large portion of the books taught in high schools today would have parents balking at the obscenity of them if the exact same material was used in a motion picture instead. The same is true for many of the young adult novels some teenagers read just for fun. Therefore, young people are not only allowed, but encouraged to devour these potentially scarring plots every day under the guise of "good literature."

There is a simple solution to this major problem we are facing: give books a rating system analogous to that of movies and television. Some people may be ready for or may desire mature content in their reading material, but others may be too young or may just want something more innocent. This way, both parties will know exactly what kind of book they are holding in their hands. All stories will still be able to be read, but people will be able to make informed decisions about what is best for themselves and their children. Book ratings would truly be best for everyone.

How did I do, lovely blog readers? I tried to do a pro-banning piece, but that was practically impossible to justify, so I just went with restriction, which I suppose is marginally better. I know this essay-like post is not something I would normally put on my blog, but I wanted to try it. Writing this was certainly a challenge, because everything I argued goes against something in which I passionately believe, but it really made me open my mind and think a little. Now, I only wish that the book banners would do the same.

1 comment:

  1. I think this was phenomenal! You did a great job playing devil's advocate and you actually made some really good points about warning labels, believe it or not. The UK is having an age warning battle for books now. People want to put "appropriate" ages on books to give parents an idea of the type of content they're reading. Hopefully Tipper Gore doesn't get a look at your post or we'll start seeing Parental Advisory stickers on book covers!


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