September 6, 2013

Banning is for Bullies

I don't like censorship. We live in a country where we have the individual power, and responsibility, to determine what is and is not good for our families and to exercise one of our most influential controls--that of being the consumer.

If something offends you, don't buy it or allow it to be in your home to influence your children. I realize we can't protect our children all of the time (they will see things at school, at friends' houses, at sports), but censorship is a very slippery slope. A dangerous one.

After Miley Cyrus twerked her way into the national spotlight at the MTV Music Awards, everyone had an opinion about the spectacle. I sadly see it for what it is, a sad cry for attention. At the end of the day, everyone talking about it is what she wanted. She won. But, what I found funny was how the image and video of her shenanigans went viral. You couldn't look at Facebook the next day without seeing her bent over or with her tongue out. Not the images I want to see. But Facebook did nothing to stop it, not that I would want them to.

However, Facebook has made many women angry by taking down several posted images of women breastfeeding their children*. No nipple was shown (hello, the baby has that part covered). Really, Facebook, you are more worried about people being offended by a woman feeding her child than by what I had to see Miley Cyrus doing?!

Again, if you don't want to see breastfeeding images, either unfriend (is that a word?) the person or quickly scroll past. You have the power.

Public Domain Image
When it comes to books, nothing makes me angrier than censorship. Did Footloose teach us nothing? *winks and smiles* I have read several erotica books lately for reviews. No, it's not necessarily my thing, but I hate that so many sites don't review those books. I can skim over the blush-inducing parts, and I've been pleasantly surprised by how much depth of emotion and complicated characters I've discovered in these books.

If you find a book offensive, don't buy it. If enough people find it offensive and exercise their consumer rights, the book won't sell. Problem solved.

And for those who think only extremely offensive books are ever targeted, I wanted to show a sampling of books that have been banned in the US at one time or another (source):

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Forever by Judy Blume
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

I have read many of the above and most are considered classics. (Judy Blume may not be in the classics category for scholarly types, but she is for me!) Can you imagine life without these titles, and many more, just because some people found them offensive? Heck, I bet the vast majority of paranormal fiction would be eradicated for propagating evil.

At the end of the day, I think banning is for bullies. It's a way for people to try and force their opinion on others. And I don't like it.

All that being said, there are certainly extreme examples. Child pornography is vile, and nothing about it should be tolerated. Children should be protected at all costs. If an adult wants to film a porno, I feel sad for them, but it is their choice. Images sexualizing children should not be tolerated and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And any book that glorifies child pornography or has any images of it should not be sold. Period. Although, I guess we could have a whole day discussion on how to define "sexualizing children."

But I'm open-minded. Is there a time and place for censoring books?

* Note; Facebook clarified that it made mistakes when taking down some breastfeeding images and "Facebook is glad that mothers and their families – including many who work at Facebook – use our site to share their parenting experiences, including breastfeeding their children. By uploading photos, joining groups, and engaging with different organizations, these families are able to share and connect on a very important topic, and we are thrilled they are using Facebook to do so." (source)


Elise Fallson said...

I don't like censorship either and I couldn't agree with you more about this, Tia. The Miley thing was a sad cry for attention made worse by the in-your-face media circus of today.

Jo Michaels said...

I think it's up to the individual to censor the books. If someone doesn't like something, they shouldn't read it. Government agencies pulling or banning books is BS, in my honest opinion. Our brothers and sisters of the military died in combat so we wouldn't have to put up with stuff like that. About the Miley thing... my thoughts are on my blog :) Great post, Tia! WRITE ON!

Tia Bach said...

Elise, I completely agree. A sad cry for attention + media = circus.

Jo, My point exactly. A parent can censor for their child, for example. And tsk, tsk to Miss Miley.