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lastmagi
17-11-05, 00:30
A question was raised in Tsuyoiko's "Calling All Bibliophiles" thread by Ma Cherie that I thought was interesting enough that it would spur some interesting discussion.

http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showpost.php?p=274649&postcount=20

I was wondering, since we're talking about literature do you approve of the banning of books? Books are banned for all sorts of reasons, political, religious, social, etc. So do you approve of this? Are do you believe it's necessary to ban certain books because people (children in particular) shouldn't be exposed to certian material?

In starting out, I would like to direct you to an example site that calls for book banning:

ClassKC - Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools (http://www.classkc.org/)

Obviously, judging from the overall writing and arguments of the site above, I would say that this probably isn't the best example of a decent argument in favor of banning and censorship.

Also, this topic reminded me of a while back about someone getting upset (http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/articles/2004/12/10/mother_seeks_ban_on_reading_assignment/[/url) over Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, and wanting it banned, if you'd like an example.


I did a quick search, and found an overview of book banning/censorship in the US.
Banned Books Online (http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/banned-books.html)

According to the following link, some of the frequently challenged books include these titles (http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bbwlinks/100mostfrequently.htm):



5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine LfEngle
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
88. Wherefs Waldo? by Martin Hanford (What?!)


I'm not sure myself about what should and shouldn't be. From an American perspective, I've read all sorts of stories about parent groups wanting to ban books out of over-protectiveness of their children to the point of forced stagnation, and I'm against that. But certainly, I don't think it's that simple, and there are always some twists. For example, in the last link that listed most challenging books, we also had:


Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

Which, I believe, was condemned because of its racial stereotype. Wikipedia article here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambo_(ethnic_slur)). Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, there was one Japanese publisher that decided to go ahead with publication of the title in spite of all the criticism it has faced:

Japanese publisher defies Little Black Sambo protest (http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1506576,00.html)

And there's also the Japanese textbook thing.

But at the same time, maybe it's not about banning in these examples, but about the need of the publishers to be aware of what may or may not be offensive in the first place to society, and thereby refusing to publish the book in question? Don't quote me on this, though, since I haven't developed this thought out yet to be in any way intelligible.

Thoughts?


(I know it's not proper etiquette for me to not give my own, but arg- I've gotta study! Sorry that I wrote this out so messily)

Ma Cherie
17-11-05, 00:56
Thank you for starting this lastmagi.:-) :cool:

Anyways, those books you pointed out there are reasons as to why people they should be banned.

I know that one of the reasons as to why The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was banned was because of the use of the "n" word in it. Appearently this may have something to do with political corrrectness.

Now Toni Morrison's novel Beloved is banned because for some reason a group of idiotic people feel that it's nothing more than pornography. Yes there's rape in the novel (having read the book) but the students they're keeping from reading this novel are in highschool. I mean, I would think highschool students are old enough to be exposed to reality. Because that's what this is. Also, Alice Walker's novels, The Color Purple in particular was banned because it's considered pornography, possibly by the same group of idiotic people. But what really enrages me is the fact that these authors have won several awards for their works, and it's an insult to call them the best writers and then turn around and ban their works.

I don't know what parents these days are trying to protect their children from, I mean really, all the TV and music that most teenagers listen to are filled with offensive material. :okashii:


Thank you for the links lastmagi. :-)

Kinsao
17-11-05, 01:35
I don't agree with banning of books. I think it should be the responsibility of parents and teachers to make sure that the children under their supervision don't get hold of inappropriate books. OK so no-one wants their kids to be reading pornography at a young age. So of course it should be ensured that schools choose the study books for their literary value (stating the obvious I know!). And outside of the school, parents can have some kind of control over what their kids are reading in the house (I know there is always disobeying, but that's normal and at least the kids would know what is "approved" and "disapproved" by their parents).

It's a good point you make about the responsibility of the publishers, too. I agree that they ought to take some responsibility of deciding if something is too "offensive" or inciteful to be published. That isn't curtailing of freedom of speech so much as the publisher exercising their right to choose.

I just think the banning of books has so much potential for abuse and the stifling of freedom of speech, that it should not be considered. :souka:

Also, I think the damage that can be done by books is greatly over-estimated compared with that of the visual media. IMO, inappropriate movies and TV can do a lot more of "damage" to a child than books can, in more insidious and more disturbing ways. Certainly as a youngster I know I was considerably more "scarred" (to use a rather too strong term, but you know what I mean :bluush: ) by things seen on film and TV than by anything I read in a book, and I had a fair share of strong stuff in all media (I am ashamed to admit :sorry: ).

But it's late, and maybe I haven't thought this through properly... :gomen:

Hyde_is_my_anti-drug
17-11-05, 02:07
Book banning is wrong. Now making it hard for children to get them is fine but banning them is not. Good writing doesn't equal writing that the masses agree with. Banning books for religous reasons is wrong because it's saying that that religon gets presidence and that is wrong. We should be free to believe what we want and if a book offends people of certain beliefs then it's up to them to stop reading it/not read it. The problem with book banning is that some books trully do need to be banned (like one's that are nothing but smut, demeaning to a gender, condone rape, violence, murder etc) but by allowing that people misuse the system to get other books banned that shouldn't for stupid reasons.
You shouldn't CHANGE books either. To me there is not much worse then f**king with someone else's words. That'd be like repainting part of The Bolt by Jean-Honore Fragonard or Venus and the Mirror by Jan Gossaert (Mabuse). It's wrong.

Ma Cherie
17-11-05, 03:14
I agree with you Hyde, I mean changing someone else's words is a kind of censorship. I was discussing this in my Political Science, and one of the classmates pointed out how whenever some authors write out a curse word, they may not write out the whole word, but they'll write half of it so the reader will get the idea. And people will still try to censor it.

Sensuikan San
17-11-05, 04:50
To me, one of the most disgusting pieces of film ever made is a black and white newsreel shot in pre-war Germany, showing SA troopers feeding a large bonfire of assorted books (mostly philosophical works, possibly by Jewish or 'labelled' Jewish authors, I presume ...).

Wether I agree with a book or not - I want the right to read it!

Ergo .... the author - even if he is a charlatan and a psychotic criminal - deserves the right to write it!

... It's entirely up to the publisher to decide wether or not to publish.

I have and/or have had in my book collections over the years:

Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler (Mostly, drivel, I might add ....!)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twain)

Huckleberry Finn (Twain)

Various publications on the Spanish Civil War - From "The Left Book Club" (Most, quite biased)

Various publications on the Spanish Civil War - From "The Right Book Club" (All, very biased!)

Das Kapital - Karl Marx

Against Revisionism - Lenin (You should get a medal for chewing through this one!)

Mao Tse Tung's "Little Red Book" (More drivel - I traded it for a copy of "The Communist Third International" - more drivel!)

.... etc. etc. etc.

I'm sooooo glad that they were all available to me!

ジョン

Tsuyoiko
17-11-05, 15:27
Don't get me started! Book banning = thought police!

Ma Cherie
18-11-05, 04:37
Don't get me started! Book banning = thought police!

Oi that makes sense, I would be happy to hear what you have to say.:-)

Tsuyoiko
18-11-05, 11:56
Oi that makes sense, I would be happy to hear what you have to say.:-)I just feel that the purpose of books is so that the writer can share his thoughts with others. Banning books is like saying "you're not allowed to have those thoughts".

I'm don't even think that offensive material should be banned. If you started banning books for portaying racism, violence, rape etc, the Bible would probably be the first to go. If there are people out there who think in ways that are offensive to us, let them write about it. It's a relatively safe way for us to know that they're out there and that they might be dangerous. Anyway, reading dangerous and offensive books probably helps to further convince the 'right' people how wrong those ideas are. I know Sen-san has read Mein Kampf and I bet he came out of it all the more convinced that those ideas are wrong.

lastmagi
19-11-05, 06:39
Now Toni Morrison's novel Beloved is banned because for some reason a group of idiotic people feel that it's nothing more than pornography. Yes there's rape in the novel (having read the book) but the students they're keeping from reading this novel are in highschool. I mean, I would think highschool students are old enough to be exposed to reality. Because that's what this is.

You're right. The fact that these people equate rape with pornography suggests seriously flawed thinking. I think most sensible authors that depict rape also do a good job in evoking the disgust in readers, because the reader knows that this kind of thing does happen. To shelter readers from reading it is to shelter readers from things they should feel disgusted with, no matter how vicarious.

Admittedly, I don't read much books with rape, mostly because I'm a chicken-gut :p


So of course it should be ensured that schools choose the study books for their literary value (stating the obvious I know!).

True, and the literary value should be, at least in part, a function of how much the book makes you think.


I'm sooooo glad that they were all available to me!


Anyway, reading dangerous and offensive books probably helps to further convince the 'right' people how wrong those ideas are. I know Sen-san has read Mein Kampf and I bet he came out of it all the more convinced that those ideas are wrong.

That's pretty much what I was thinking and I definitely agree with being able to read books like Mein Kampf. I haven't read it myself, but I would, given the time and patience. Reading something like that would improve our arguments against it. What's the alternative? Not getting the arguments, not understanding the full extent of what they're talking about, and thus not having a good counter-argument, relying instead on baseless assumptions and shaky second-hand knowledge. Promotion of such banning is essentially promoting "on-faith" rejection of the offensive books, which is almost as, if not just as, dangerous.


Let's put aside our agreeing for a second, and I'll play devil's advocate for one or two rounds. Just for the heck of it :p

Both Sensuikan San and Tsuyoiko (and myself, and I'm guessing the rest of us here) agree that reading something offensive would be beneficial to our own strengthening of our arguments. It would reinforce what we believe, and thus prove that we can confidently reject the author's statements through valid arguments.

However, what of those who don't have the experience enough to be able to critically appraise arguments, such as children? Also assume that, partly since they were able to easily access the book in the first place, the immediate environment in which the child lives- parents, school, library, friends, etc.- reinforce the beliefs espoused in the book, so de-indoctrinating him would be close to impossible. What is our role in a case like this?

Mycernius
19-11-05, 11:59
I am against book banning. I agree with Tsuyoiko, it smacks of thought police. A case of people trying to get rid of books that go against their ideals. A bit like some conservative christian groups trying to ban books on evolution. The problem for them is banning will make people go out and buy it. I think the Satanic Verses is a good example of how a mediocre book can suddenly become a best seller because someone wants it banned and the author killed. If nothing was said the book would have probably faded into the background. I think the same thing has happened with the Da vinci Code (never read it). Because of its content the church start moaning about the book. Because of the sudden interest, it has become a very popular book that has spwned a plethora of "serious" books and conspiracies.

However, what of those who don't have the experience enough to be able to critically appraise arguments, such as children? Also assume that, partly since they were able to easily access the book in the first place, the immediate environment in which the child lives- parents, school, library, friends, etc.- reinforce the beliefs espoused in the book, so de-indoctrinating him would be close to impossible. What is our role in a case like this?
I'm not trying to be insulting to people here, but books like Mein Kampf, Catcher In The Rye and others are hardly going to be read by children. Also most of the people who jump on the bad wagon to ban these books have never read them or are of the type that are not well read. They let their ignorance guide them. I find that most well read people can readily distingush rubbish from good writing.
I can see your agument for children being indoctrinated by their environs, but don't most children start to rebel around their teens? I find this is the point where teenagers will not accept what is being told to them as they try to establish their own identity. I think that most de-indoctrinate themselves.

EDIT: Been looking around and found this old thread (http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15546)concerning book banning

Winter
20-11-05, 12:03
...But at the same time, maybe it's not about banning in these examples, but about the need of the publishers to be aware of what may or may not be offensive in the first place to society...

This is all I wanted to comment on.

Keep in mind I'm speaking from a comic writer POV.

If you get too caught up in the whims and mindset of the modern day mass, and worry too much about offending Johnny Whitecollar, then you lose an ingredient that makes literary works so important for enjoyment; realism.

If there isnt a shread of realism in a piece, then there is no way for the reader to identify with the trials of the protagonist, and if there is no way to identify, then how is the reader going to get involved emotionally to the story, you know?

And if you cant get involved emotionally, then you will end up not caring. If you dont care about what you're reading, why are you reading it?

lastmagi
20-11-05, 19:06
I'm not trying to be insulting to people here

Don't worry. Like I said, I'm switching roles for a little bit so as to spur some discussion. Think of it as a mock debate ;-)


but books like Mein Kampf, Catcher In The Rye and others are hardly going to be read by children. Also most of the people who jump on the bad wagon to ban these books have never read them or are of the type that are not well read. They let their ignorance guide them. I find that most well read people can readily distingush rubbish from good writing.
I can see your agument for children being indoctrinated by their environs, but don't most children start to rebel around their teens? I find this is the point where teenagers will not accept what is being told to them as they try to establish their own identity. I think that most de-indoctrinate themselves.

Good point. But in the case of children, I wasn't really thinking of Mein Kampf, but children's books that contribute to the formative perception of the world around them, like this one (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0976726904/002-3467819-9498404?v=glance&n=283155&n=507846&s=books&v=glance). (Okay, I don't actually think that should be banned, but hey, I'm still playing devil's advocate!, and I just wanted to have an excuse to link that book, since its whole premise is pretty ridiculous to be funny, even if you are a liberal), or the other "Sambo" children's book mentioned above.

Also, I'd question: what exactly do teens rebel against? Do they rebel against the perceptions they'd formed during their earlier years, or their immediate environment, or something else...?


If you get too caught up in the whims and mindset of the modern day mass, and worry too much about offending Johnny Whitecollar, then you lose an ingredient that makes literary works so important for enjoyment; realism.

If there isnt a shread of realism in a piece, then there is no way for the reader to identify with the trials of the protagonist, and if there is no way to identify, then how is the reader going to get involved emotionally to the story, you know?

Interesting argument, and it's good to get one from a new perspective, such as a comic writer. However, I'd like to pose some questions: Do you think it's correct to make "offend" synonymous to "challenge" in the context of being ingredients for realism? If not, where would you draw the line? Also, would you mind giving examples of some works where the writers suceed in portraying realism because they don't care about offending the masses? What sensibilities are being offended (are they offending certain beliefs, certain people), and why? Finally, what is the difference of the portrayal of realism in comics from a text novel?