NPR Spotlights Banned Books Week

Evidently I timed my drive into work this morning JUST right, because the last full story I heard on NPR (via Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ – woohoo!) was about Banned Books Week.

The whole thing was fascinating, but what really caught my ears was a statement made by Judith Krug of the American Library Association:

“They’re not afraid of the book; they’re afraid of the ideas,” says Krug. “The materials that are challenged and banned say something about the human condition.”

That coincided very nicely with what I was wondering while I was creating some of my spotlight posts.  For some of the books I am featuring this week, at least, I wondered how much of the negative reaction towards the book was caused by specific instances of racism, sex, violence, language, or witchcraft, and how much is because some of these books challenege worldviews and highlight serious injustices.  What do you think?  Are most books banned because they are dirty or innappropriate, or because the idea in them scare people?  Are those ‘won’t somebody please think of the children!?!’ passages what jump out at people, or do they go looking for those portions of the book, to find an excuse for hating it?

Anyway, enough of that tangent (although I’m very interested to hear people’s thoughts about those questions in the comments).  The story went on to talk about how and why “Grapes of Wrath” was banned, particularly in Kern Country, California, when it first came out, using part of Rick Wartzman’s new book “Obscene in the Extreme” to discuss the situation in Kern County (Mr. Wartzman or Mr. Wartzman’s publishers/publicists, if you happen to be reading this, I REALLY want to read and review “Obscene in the Extreme”).

Overall, fascination story.  You can read the whole thing PLUS an excerpt of “Obscene in the Extreme” here.

In case you missed it, here is my spotlight on “Grapes of Wrath” for Banned Books Week.  You can find all of my Banned Books Week posts by clicking here.

6 comments to NPR Spotlights Banned Books Week

  • I agree with Judith Krug’s statement. I think most people do not like to be made aware of their faults through these books. I think it really says something when books of that nature (the fowl language, sex, racism etc) are banned, yet its still allowed and celebrated in movie-format and in TV shows. Does one format make the ideas any less threatening?

  • I think people want books banned because they’re afraid that the ideas the books present will show the world how narrow-minded they really are. They want their children to swallow their ideas and values without question. Books with different ideas and perspectives are wonderful for starting dialogue with children (or other adults).

  • I comletely agree with the quote and think that most people who want to ban books want to do so because they are afraid of they ideas the books present and are worried about how those ideas, that differ from their own, might change or open people’s minds to a new way of looking at things. Banning books is a reactionary move made by those who either want to stay in power or want to gain power by removing their competition or making their own ideas appear to be the only ones that exist or are acceptable.

    My feelings about reading freedom are pretty similar to my feelings about everything else. To paraphrase a popular bumper sticker: Keep your laws out of my library.

  • I had to go into work right after that statement so I didn’t get to hear the full story. :(

    But yes, I agree with her statement. There’s always a contradiction though. I worked with someone who would not let his kids read any of the Harry Potter books. In his (and his wife’s view) because they dealt with magic, spells, witches and wizards that they were the work of the devil.

    If his kids aren’t carbon copies of him I can imagine him stating that they are a disappointment and he doesn’t know where he went wrong in raising them.

  • That is interesting and I think very correct. I definitely think the ideas are a bigger threat than the actual content in many of these books. I’m not a parent, but I have known parents and older people who were very afraid to let their kids or any kids think for themselves – God forbid the child form his or her own opinion!

    I’m just glad my parents aren’t that way; they’re not pleased that I’ve turned out liberal when both of them are conservative, but they know it’s my own choice to make. And they always let me read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted!