by Kevin M. Norris
Banned Book week (Sept. 27- Oct. 3, 2015) has been over for over a month, but the threat lingers on. Since the invention of the printing press, writers have been fighting for so called “Freedom of Speech.” Thinking about banned books, one can’t forget the thousands of books that the Nazis burned. Here in the United States, countless books have been banned from the shelves of our schools. Living in a nation, a country that prides itself in freedom (especially Freedom of Speech), some wonder if the United States could ever go to the Nazi extreme and what would happen if they did.
According to a 2012 ABC News report, Bridgeport Township in Michigan banned Harry Potter because it contained witchcraft. Also, A Catcher and the Rye was been banned for sexual reference.
More recently, a MYSA, My San Antonio, news report listed several books that have been either challenged or banned in the state of Texas. One of the Books was Santa Clause Around the World (Banning Santa, really). Another book that has been banned in Texas, according to MYSA was Hunger Games. “The Hunger Games Trilogy should NOT be banned in schools. Hunger Games is an amazing book series, and to some extent can be considered didactic, with the moral really being ‘Don’t give up.’ Katniss had a REALLY small chance to win, but she pushed through and eventually won (with Peeta.) Additionally, Hunger Games takes place in a depressing, future dystopia. In the 3rd book, Mockingjay, Katniss and company overtake the corrupt government. Katniss and Peeta went through TWO Hunger Games… sort of… and then overthrew President Snow. They never gave up, even when faced against seemingly impossible odds,” Blake, a ninth grade student stated.
Furthermore, according to MYSA, Captain Underpants was once banned in Texas. One student who once lived in Texas had this to say about it “The benefits to reading books like Captain Underpants is that they are so over the top and whimsical that they help children’s imaginations flourish. And, they are enjoyable reads,” Kameron, another ninth grader stated.
To Kill a Mockingbird has often been on the challenged or banned list, but this is challenged by a student. “It reveals a truth about times during the Civil Rights era. While it may be an ugly truth, it is still necessary for people to know. If we cover it up and ban everything ugly about our history, we wouldn’t have anything to tell,” Tiai, another ninth grader stated.
According to the MYSA website books like Fifty Shades of Grey have been banned from schools. Though I’m against censorship, there is a time for a school system to put its foot down and say “No.” There are books out there that are meant for pleasure and reading books that are considered intellectual. Though I could only get through the first 50 pages of Fifty Shades of Grey, it is obvious, in my opinion, that it almost steps over the boundary of literature into porn and that it has no place in grade schools but what about college and what would happens if they tried to ban books in college?
“The Blog” from the Huff Post reported on a librarian who shared the same curiosity. To prove a point, she banned the book One Woman’s Vengeance from a university library on grounds of sex and violence. As a result, within 20 minutes of making the announcement, she was contacted by the local press. However, only eight people out of a student body of “3000” asked for her to change her mind about banning the books. To me, this is sad. What if this was real? Would people not stand up to the banning of books on a college campus? If it could happen at a college, what would happen to “Freedom of Speech” and “Freedom of the Press?”
Kevin Norris is a second year MFA in Creative Nonfiction candidate at Old Dominion University. He also teaches High School English; therefore, he has a strong interest in the current trends of public education. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife of 22 years and three children.