Saturday, October 3, 2009

Walking on Eggshells for Books

Reading about certain steps educators can take in an attempt to avoid backlash about books they teach in class, I ask, why? Really, in this day and age, what's the point? Aside from the fact that you can't please everyone, you can believe that you've removed every hint of controversy from your classroom but lo and behold, there's going to be at least one parent out there that's going to have some kind of problem with what it is their kids are still reading. Whether it be dead turtles or insinuated lesbian sex or whatever, someone's going to find something wrong and offensive about it no matter what you do. So what does it matter? People like to complain and if they're that adamant about it, they're going to find something, anything, to complain about.

At the end of the day, though, book burners and banners and challengers believe themselves to be eliminating some form of threat to their ways of life. They fully believe that. By removing it and, in some cases, completely destroying it, they're able to obliterate it from their sheltered world where its presence won't taint their lives anymore.

You know, I'd love to ban Glenn Beck and his idiot book from my local Borders because that was a fucking shock, like getting slapped in the face with a dead trout, running into him there but instead of picketing Borders, I just removed myself from the situation. Of course I *had* to say a few things (literally) and I shoved and dry-heaved my way out of the store (it was a damn mob scene) only to come face to giant head on the side of his damn tour bus where I heaved on a police officer's shoes and ran to my car on the other side of the very large parking lot. Had I known that tool was going to be there, I would have just avoided the store. Much to my chagrin, that idiot and his book has every right to be there. I just went across the street to the much more sedate and Beck-free Barnes and Noble. Then I came home and did an icky dance to try and rid the taint from my skin.

But many, many, many banners don't think like that. They don't think to remove themselves from the situation: they want the situation removed from them, never mind if it inconveniences everyone else. It's all about what *they* want.

And what they want is to rid their areas of these books that they've never even read. Have I ever read Glenn Beck's book? No, but I've watched his show so I know what to expect between those covers. I know the kind of opinion I'm going to get. I don't agree with his show. Why would I agree with it in book form? But the people that go out and burn Harry Potter have never read it. Ellen Hopkins's Oklahoma issue? You can pretty much guarantee that that irate parent had never read any of Ellen's books. She just heard what they were about. Such is the case in pretty much all book banning and challenge situations.

There was an issue here a few years ago where the city of Hartford wanted to re-name a local community college to Mark Twain University, considering Mr. Clemens lived up here for quite some time. The local youth chapter of the NAACP got up in arms about it. A news person asked the youth president if he'd ever read any of Mark Twain's books. He said no, that he'd never read such racist propaganda. The school's name never changed over.

What happened to "don't knock it until you try it?" If it works that way with broccoli, why doesn't it with books?

Ignorance breeds ignorance, I tell you.


ralfast said...

My condolences on what I'm sure was a very unpleasant experience. I felt exactly the same way when I saw the book in my local Borders, I can't imagine what would happen if I actually saw the man, then again, I doubt very much he would fly down here for a book tour.

Lucky me.

Donna said...

Yeah. That was probably one of the worst public experiences I've ever had. I've never been so physically repulsed by a person's presence before. Blech.

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