Banned! Books You Won’t Find In Your Public Library…

Over ten years ago and it still is a lightning rod issue for me.

Almost a decade ago, I went to the Dayton/Montgomery County Public Library main branch to witness a war of ideas. A normal night in the library auditorium would have but a handful of persons engaged in some type of meeting. Not on the night I would be there.

Banning books that promote alternate lifestyles

Nearly 100 people crammed inside and outside the auditorium to hear the library board’s decision whether two controversial books could stay in the library. Books staying in the library? I thought every book was welcomed in the library. Not if you were the parents of some of the ultra conservative Christians in town who looked down on any book promoting the gay lifestyle.

Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate was found by one the church members who quickly went into action. They rallied, protested, and got the media involved. In the end the library board voted unanimously to keep the books in the selection (it would later be dispersed in various categories in the children’s library, but neither books were banned from the library due to their content).

This made the ultra-conservative parents livid. They made threats of God’s judgment on the staff and the library and, in some show of protest, sent their children to place their cut library cards on the board’s table and walked out. If only I had the courage or the fortitude that night to say what I am saying to you now: Their actions exemplified idiotic behavior more than anything else I can imagine.

Two books about people who are in our community is such a threat to our community? So what if two women or men are raising kids, at least they have a story about their lives they can identify with and to help inform the community about their lives. Yet you will find the few trying to tell the many what is acceptable reading and what is not. The libraries and bookstores around the country are a bastion of free speech where ideas and thoughts can find equal footing to the populace.

Other surprising banned books

Every book on the shelves have a right to be on there for readers young and old to enjoy and learn from. Both book mentioned above are not the only two books finding controversy over its topics. You’ll be surprised what books find themselves on the infamous list of “banned books”

1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

2. I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing by Maya Angelou

3. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris (Sex Ed)

4. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pulman

The ten most controversial books

The Economist July 22nd on line article talks about the ten most controversial books and for the second year in a row two penguins are the subject of the censor’s ire. “And Tango Makes Three” about two male penguins who adopt an egg to make a family is the top book of choice to have tossed out. The are others you can check out in this article in The Economist.

Every year the American Library Association releases their list of Banned Books for the year (Check out the link at American library Association: http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bannedbooksweek.cfm) . Each library and bookstore sets up special displays to educate readers just what material is on the list. Many readers are shocked, others are not surprised, but all are amazed at how those individuals will work hard to make these books shunned from their communities.

One year at our public library, some of the books were found in a sort of adult movie style booth complete with a black curtain and a sign outside saying “Must Be Over 18 to Enter”. Imagine my surprise when I found the books they had displayed; imagine my disappointment when the Madonna SEX book not inside. Oh well.

So what does this mean for a web savvy people who read most of their material on-line? It means if you care one iota about freedom of speech and the power of a book or tome do all you can to support you local public library or bookstore.

These places make available the stories and ideas we love and appreciate; these are the places who allow countering views equal ground to challenge conventional thinking. Sadly the members of the religious sect who complained the loudest still every Halloween Night burn anything with “Satan’s Mark” in a bonfire.

They won’t give ideas a chance or the room to grow their world. They won’t even take the time to know where the author was going and why they wrote what they did. Out of sight, out of mind is the mantra they hold to. But if you burn the book with the idea, does it mean the idea really dies?


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