The power of knowledge is a terrifying thing for parts of the world, while for others, it’s a sense of liberation. Knowledge comes from experience and books. The ones with experience are the ones who write the books, and the stories in books are what gives people ideas, promotes imagination. Allowing people to create stories of their choosing for others to read has been a controversial topic for about a century now.
The United States prides itself on “freedom of speech” for its citizens. Nowadays it is incredibly hard to ban a book in the United States, near impossible. Sure, there are still books that are highly frowned upon in which there are less copies made, and some school districts and organizations ban books from being in their libraries and put into school assignments. But there are many books that were taken out of circulation even in the US for a while. In fact, many classic books are still frowned upon. Books like The Adventures of Huck Finn and Uncle Tom’s Cabin have been controversial due to the amount of derogatory race-relate worlds and cruelty towards African Americans. These are just two books that have been banned in the past, but are now available and just marked up as some of the books that “aren’t with the times” and dated. There are many more books that have been banned just in the United States that make a person roll their eyes.
Many countries outside of the United States, even ones as progressive, are still banning or taking books out of circulation. Books like American Psycho have been classified as demeaning to women and violent. American Psycho is still banned in Queensland, Australia. The Anarchist Cookbook gives how-to’s on how to build bombs and make drugs. This book (for obvious reasons) is still banned in Australia and the U.K. Many others are on this list of banned books, and there are still books in the United States still being controversial. A Texas high school banned simple, everyday books that a college kid like myself actually owns. In fact, if I had been able or even prompted to read some of the more mature books, it could have helped me mature faster and open my mind to a different thought process. The Art of Racing in the Rain was removed from the high school’s library shelves for one scene with sexual content. High school students know about sex. Reading a story that has a scene about consenting adults should not be condemned, in fact, it SHOULD be brought to attention. With the amount of crime and widely accepted or ignored violence in the world right now, a book like this is harmless.
Who makes these arguments to rid their world of these books? Why do they get a say? As an avid reader, having read several of these “banned books,” I thrive on the knowledge and understanding I get once I read a book. People want to know. There is never enough information about any topic. The world wants to know more, but it has become apparent that there are governments, activists, conservatives, and people who have just plain radical thoughts… basically people from all spectrums… who want others to see their sides. They fear people who have different ideas, and thoughts, and the ones who can persuade others to open up their eyes and have an imagination take a lot of heat.
It’s understandable that certain governments might not want a “How to cook up drugs and bombs” book circulating, but many governments, including South Korea, ban books that have potential to inform its audience of sketchier instances within its own boundaries. Other books that are included on the list of banned, disapproval, and ones that have been limited on publishing and circulation are ones that have characteristics such as being very progressive and forward thinking, revealing a pitfall of a government, group, or a major scandal of some sort. Mysteries, such as The DaVinci Code, thrillers, classics, and informative texts have all had their turn in being banned. Even in places like France, there have been books banned. Classic books, by Voltaire, have been banned.
We live in a world that is very dependent on “the system.” We trust our governments and our legislature because it’s easier, we don’t think we’ll get anywhere if we do speak our minds, and we’re scared of being the one to stand out. With public shaming being very apparent with the help of the internet, someone always watching your every move. This is something that everyone fears, for example, who’s reading my blog post right now? This relates to the banning of books. People (specifically the authors and the ones they influence) are speaking their minds in their books. They’re stating facts, opinions, stories, and people are listening or reading them. It creates ideas, movements. And ultimately, that is a universal concern. People fear ideas that are different from their own.