Freedom To Read Tag

Hello all! Happy Sunday (gosh I just love Sundays!) Anyhoo- I always find Sundays make the perfect day for chilling out and doing a tag. And because I am evidently not done with this topic yet- I thought it would be the perfect time to do the Freedom To Read Tag! Thank you so much to Roseread who not only runs a brilliant blog, but is also a total mind reader in that she knew I wanted to talk about this before I’d even posted anything!!

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As a child, were you ever explicitly not allowed to read a book(s) by your parents/guardian and which book(s) was it?

eastofedenUnfortunately yes- there was more than one. For a lot of different reasons. One author I wasn’t allowed to read because of his views. One book, East of Eden, was physically taken off me because apparently I was too young for it (I didn’t agree!). I got my own back by reading all the books I wasn’t allowed to in secret!

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Has a parent/guardian ever challenged a book you were reading in school? Did the book get withdrawn?

Not that I can recall. I don’t think anyone paid enough attention to what I was reading at school apart from me!

Do you agree with the practice of banning books? Why or why not?

Not at all- not even slightly- not even when they are the most controversial books on the planet! I’ve elaborated on this a little in my last post, but for the sake of clarity, I believe that censoring “bad” books only gives legitimacy to “bad” ideas. If the ideas are wrong, it is cowardly to ban them rather than confront the ideas. And if those ideas transpire to be correct- how much worse is that to have the truth censored?! The freedom to read and share ideas is the basis of a free society.

Have you ever read a book that shocked you enough that you thought it should be challenged/banned?

No! I’ve read plenty of shocking books- some I liked, others I didn’t. But personal feelings aside, I could never see a reason to ban them.

Should libraries/schools monitor their books in case some people find them offensive?

Absolutely not. I agree with Rosereads- “monitor” is not the best word- cos isn’t that a librarian’s job? But I also take issue with the term “offensive”. What are we to deem offensive? Who is to decide these parameters? What is not offensive to some people might be offensive to others and vice versa. It is such a subjective thing- and we can all think of a time when something we are or do or think is offensive to someone else. It is all very well to call for censorship, but what happens when *you* are the one being censored?

Have any of your favourite books been challenged/banned?

I’m sure they have- even in one of my school libraries Noughts and Crosses was banned for sexual content.

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Have you ever read a book specifically because it was challenged/banned?

Yes- see above- I read Noughts and Crosses in spite of it being banned- and it’s one of my favourite books. And books like Lolita, which was banned in the UK and US at one point, are always finding their way onto University syllabuses. Which just proves that if you want a book to gain notoriety and a wider readership than it would have otherwise had, then you should just go ahead and ban it.

Alrighty then- let’s share the love for banned books!

I TAG:

Donna @ Chocolatenwafflesblog

Naz @ Readdiversebooks

Quirky Book Nerd

The Invisible Moth

Jill @ Rantandravebooks

Anne @ Inked Brownies

Liz @ Cover to Cover

She Latitude

I Wuv Books

The Tattooed Book Geek

And you!! Because even if I haven’t tagged you directly- this is such an important tag to do!!

The Freedom To Read Whatever You Want

A few weeks ago it was banned books week, but obviously this is a topic worth talking about all year round. In fact it is something that *must* be discussed all year round.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but censorship is wrong. Yup- that’s right, I’m against censorship- who’d have thunk it? (erm- well most people I hope!) I am anti-censorship in the same way I am a firm believer of freedom of speech. The no holds barred kind. The “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” kind. I hold a wide variety of political views, but when it comes to freedom of speech, my liberal and libertarian sides come out. I inherently believe that we should be open to trying anything and at the same time leave people to read whatever the hell they like.

So that clears up most things, right? Yet I want to take this censorship issue further. Because when it comes to books, I am not going to censor myself. Some people may disagree with this approach to reading- but for me the way I choose books is *entirely meritocratic*. I don’t care where things come from or who wrote it- if it’s good, I want in.

More than that, I am open to read anything, regardless of the source. There are certain horrifically bigoted, but genius authors that I love (I won’t ruin people’s childhoods by saying who). I do my best to read their work and judge it on its own merits. This is a similar principle to one that Stephen Fry (in “Wagner and Me”) holds about listening to Wagner as a Jew- if it’s good art, it’s worth exploring, regardless of the source. I may be wary of where the money’s going, but that’s it.

Nor will I stop myself from reading something for fear it might upset me or because I don’t agree with the views being espoused. In fact, if I don’t agree with the views being espoused I’ve either got to buoy up my arguments by confronting it head on or change my own opinion- because one of us is wrong here. It’s not just about free speech and letting everyone have their say- it’s about making informed decisions. Being challenged is the only way to grow intellectually.

That means even if something is controversial I will read it. And sometimes I will have controversial opinions about books (if you’ve been around on my blog long enough you will already know this!) You may not like what I read or what I have to say about them, but c’est la vie. In the words of Orwell: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” And in the words of Steve Hughes:

Right there is so much more I could say on this issue, but this is not an echo chamber, so let’s get a discussion going! Where do you stand on the issue of censorship of books? Do you ever believe there is an instance where you agree with banning books? And what is your stance on controversial reads? Let me know in the comments!