Banned Books Week was celebrated in the U.S. on Sept. 18-24. Throughout the last couple years, a few thousand books have been banned in the United States and other countries around the world. The majority of the books that have been banned for reasons such as foul language, graphic content, and drugs and alcohol. Additionally, books have been banned for containing content relating to homosexual characters and relationships, as well as characters of varying races and cultural backgrounds. 

However, banning books isn’t a new concept. Books have been challenged going all the way back to the 17th century.

Banning books is disgraceful and morally wrong. Taking away pieces of literature from the public not only hurts the readers, but also hurts the authors. Authors make a living off of what they produce, and banning their work is insulting. 

Every book being challenged is purely based on opinion. Writing is art, and everyone interprets art differently. One person will read a story and might find it offensive while another person will simply enjoy the story for what it is. It is unfair to ban a whole novel based on one person’s opinion, especially when it comes to books involving storylines and characters of oppressed communities. 

Living in the 21st century, being “different” has become the new “normal”. Individuals need to understand the concept that not everybody is going to live or look the same way. When humans are able to learn the variance of people, especially at a young age, it is easier for them to adapt and accept others. 

For example, the book ‘The Hate U Give’ written by Angie Thomas, is a fan favorite well-known across the country. To summarize, the main character Starr lives in a poor neighborhood but attends a fancy prep school. She faces the struggles of discrimination first hand in addition to watching her friend Khalil face it in the hands of a police officer. Starr does as much as possible to fight for justice. This book was originally banned in Texas back in 2017 because many people thought it was an anti-police message. The author’s intentions were to spread awareness and highlight the discrimination individuals have to go through. This is a prime example of how people fail to see the real messages behind writing.

John Green’s ‘Looking For Alaska’, a personal favorite of mine, was banned in Sumner Country, Tenn. and Depew, N.Y. in 2005 due to foul language, inappropriate scenes, and drugs and alcohol. This disappointed me, since I highly enjoyed this book and didn’t see a problem with what was in the text. Text is meaningless without context. All of these “controversial” scenes included in the writing is what makes up the story. Without it, the plot and meaning of the story would change. This book has even been banned more than E. L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This completely surprised me because, from a person who has read both, Fifty Shades of Grey” seems like it would be far more controversial as it normalizes rape culture, grooming and abuse.

Let the authors write and the readers read. Put down the book if you do not like it, banning it won’t resolve anything. 

Reilly Sanborn can be contacted

at Reilly.Sanborn@keene.edu

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