Today I read a post by fellow book blogger, Sheila at Book Journeyabout book censorship. She was asked to assist a group who want to censor the books available in schools. She is, of course, upset about this turn of events and put the question out there to fellow bloggers. Do you/we believe in censorship?
When I think of censorship, I think of one of my all-time favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird was first published in 1960, an era of much contention between caucasian and African American individuals in the States. The New Yorker and Time magazines both published positive reviews and the book was subsequently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. So what was all the fuss about?
In 1968 the National Education Association placed To Kill a Mockingbird on its list of titles having received the most complaints. The complaints were in reference to the subject matter of rape, racial insult, and profanity. In 1977 Eden Minnesota placed a temporary ban on the novel. Even as recent as 1990, school districts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia attempted to have the book banned, not to be used in the curriculum. 2006 (Tennessee) and 2009 (Ontario) saw it removed from schools yet again stating that the use of the word "nigger" was offensive. Some parents and school officials thought it would be offensive and uncomfortable for children to read, citing that the content may incite racial hatred. These schools were not alone in this opinion.
I have to wonder if these individuals actually read the book themselves. If anything, this novel, in my opinion, was ahead of its time. The story is built around a lawyer and his children, the lawyer believing the young man charged with rape was entitled to a defence and set out to prove the charges were false.
"It is sad to consider that this book was once banned from schools and libraries. Perhaps the individuals who wanted it banned did not read it for To Kill a Mockingbird was ahead of its time in promoting equal rights for all and the value of one soul is no greater than another. To have the opportunity to read and to study To Kill a Mockingbird, is a privilege. For a book that raises the question of racism and addresses the issues through the eyes of the innocent child, is certainly a book that I would encourage all people to read, particularly young people. Atticus teaches his children the value of a human life." To read more, please refer to my review.
What are your thoughts on censorship? Is there a time and a place when it might be necessary? Who should have the right to decide what a person reads?
I encourage you to stop by Book Journey and comment there as well after reading Sheila's thoughts on censorship of the book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.