There’s nothing goofy about Banned Book Week.
My first encounter with banned books was in high school, when I became aware that Oklahoma and almost no other state had banned The Grapes of Wrath because it supposedly portrayed Oklahomans in a bad light. They didn’t much like the term Okie either.
I’m an Okie and I like the term, but if I had been walking down the streets of Bakersfield in the thirties, and people had been calling me that while spitting on me, I would probably have a different viewpoint.
When I was a boy, more than half a century ago, I said n— all the time. I quit when I grew up and learned better. Of course Black people will never come to accept the word like I accept Okie, and they shouldn’t. Okie was only a cuss word in parts of California for a brief time, a long time ago. N— has a different history.
While we are banning books, let’s go ahead and ban the word nigger.
See, you can’t do it. I’ve managed to use the abbreviation n— up to now, but I couldn’t write that sentence without spelling it out.
We have made not saying the word the key to survival in modern politics, but does a clean mouth insure a clean conscience, or a clean personal history? If you think so, I have a swamp I’m willing to sell you.
Shall we ban the idea behind the word? Good luck trying.
All this brings us back to books. Books should not be banned, except for a few.
That’s a lot like saying I’m for free speech, but not for hate speech. Okay, define hate speech. Not give examples, that’s too easy. Define it.
It can’t be done.
Now, back to books again. Personally, I hate the *** series. I wish those books had never been written, but I’m afraid to even mention their name in this post. They have all but disappeared on their own, but if I were to mount a campaign to ban them, they would be back on the shelves and on their way to the best-seller list before the month was out. There would be websites defending them and websites condemning them and hash-tags like — no, I’m not going to tell you what the hash-tags would say.
Banning books is not only wrong, it is also self-defeating. If something bothers you — books, words, concepts, actions — confront it. Banning it just drives it more deeply into the public consciousness.
If the media had not been so outraged in 2016 that they made ***** the main subject of every newscast, we would have a different president today.
If the Ayatollah had not condemned The Satanic Verses, it would have died the quiet death it deserved. I know. I fought my way half way through the thing out of moral obligation before I tossed it. If it hadn’t been condemned, I would have quit after page three.
End of sermon.
Now here is a tidbit that I am adding just because it amuses me. The Index Librorum Prohibitorum is the list of books banned by the Catholic Church, beginning about 1600, going through various versions, and being finally dropped in 1966. Johannes Kepler and Immanuel Kant along with some translations of the Bible have all had the dubious honor of inclusion over the years.
When I wrote A Fond Farewell to Dying, set on a post nuclear war Earth, the main character wrote a book called Inquiry into Artificially Induced Immortality. I needed to have it banned, so I had to let the New Vatican located on Lake Titicaca (Rome having been nuked) reinstitute the Index just so my hero’s book could be on it.