Give Me Literacy Or Give Me Death

Beck Williams, Staffer

Book banning or censorship of information is often thought to be practiced mostly by authoritarian governments. However the reprehensible practice of banning books is even practiced in the United States, and absolutely has to end.
Across the country, local governments and school boards enact bans on the types of books provided at public facilities such as schools and libraries. The reasons behind these bans vary but mostly include profane language, unsavory topics and references to LGBT+ characters. Books that have been banned or challenged include “The Catcher in the Rye”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and even the “Captain Underpants” series according to the American Library Association (ALA). Regardless of whether one agrees with the reasoning for these bans, it is wrong for local and federal governments to forcefully impose their beliefs on the governed.
One of the reasons many books have been banned across the nation is for profane or unacceptable language, according to the ALA. However, this justification is clearly an excuse to censor books that are opposed on political, religious, or ideological grounds. Banning books on these grounds is a very slippery slope. Real life does not include childish language that comforts and nurtures the sensitive, rather it contains dynamic and unconventional language which some may view as profane or offensive.
Another reason books can be banned by schools and libraries in the U.S. is for unsavory or mature subject matter. This type of book-banning is a little harder to condemn completely, as elementary school children should obviously not be exposed to these mature topics at such a young age. However, these bans often apply to middle schools and high schools and even public libraries. The solution to shielding young children from topics they should not be exposed to is not to ban books that include these topics. There is a fine line between responsible restrictions and unwarranted censorship, and it is often crossed by governments who ban books on the basis of subjectively inappropriate topics.
In more recent times, books have been banned for containing LGBT+ material, as it has become increasingly more prevalent in American literature, according to Banned Books Week. I understand that some have moral or religious objections to these topics, however, we must be careful when choosing who and what to censor. While I support an individual’s freedom to oppose ideas, I also believe that governments or authority figures should not practice unnecessary conversion efforts. If a person has an objection to a book containing LGBT+ characters or topics, they should be free not to read books that contain them. In the same spirit, those who do not possess such concerns should be free to read those books without fear of government intervention.
The practice of banning books from libraries and schools in America is not a black and white issue. Compelling arguments can be made in favor of banning certain books, primarily in the name of protecting children from harmful or vulgar material. In the bigger picture, it should become clear that these arguments are not as convincing as the right to freedom of information.