I remember as a girl hearing the adults talking about a Fellini movie that was "Banned in Boston!" When I asked my mother what it means to be "Banned in Boston," she explained that the Boston diocese of the Catholic Church had forbidden people from seeing the movie. She went on to explain that this upset her because it took away her freedom to decide for herself if something was appropriate or good or worth her time.
Momma was a very progressive thinker for her day She was a civil right activist long before the term was in daily life.
In the recent issue of the AARP Bulletin, there is a full-page listing of books that are banned in schools and libraries across the country. To me, this seems unbelievable, especially when I read the list of books. I can understand not allowing porn into a school library, but The Diary of Anne Frank or Fahrenheit 451?
I read Anne Frank as a young girl in Junior High. It opened my eyes to how someone could face adversity, yet continue to have a positive outlook. It also taught me about how humans have a penchant for creating "others," regardless of whether the other is within the group we are part of or outside it.
Fahrenheit 451 is about exactly what is being done to it...banning of books, banning of knowledge.
Knowledge is neither good nor bad. It is what we do with it that can cause problems. Banning knowledge in any form - books, art, film - is done out of fear. Fear cripples the mind and spirit. Fear keeps us from learning, thinking, discovering, healing and loving. Knowledge promote growth in all forms.
Momma taught me to question life. This philosophy was affirmed by several educators that blessed by life over the years. Asking who, what, when, where, why and how about any given situation has always helped me make solid decisions about what to do, what to say, how to act, what to believe. The only time I have had regrets is when I didn't ask questions. Having knowledge has not caused me problems. It has been the lack of knowledge that has caused issues. Never assume is the lesson I have learned the hard way.
The American Library Association will be observing Banned Book Week from September 25 through October 2. Why not join the rest of us rebels and pick up a copy of The Grapes of Wrath or The Color Purple or any number of hundreds of other books that have been banned or challenged. (Click here for the 2010 list.)