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Monday, September 6, 2010

Banned Books

Just read a list of banned books in schools and libraries. To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Grapes of Wrath, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Sun Also Rises....the jury is just warming up. The reasons for banning books is varied. Under the too political category we find, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Animal Farm, 1984. Under too much sex we find Tropic of Cancer, The Sun Also Rises, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Ulysses, Beloved, Jaws, Lolita. Under Irreligious we find The Lord of the Rings, Last Temptation of Christ. Socially offensive is: Anne Frank, Of Mice and Men, Catch 22, A Clockwork Orange, James and the Giant Peach.

Well, we could go on and on because the list goes on and on. These are books banned by schools and libraries in the United States. In the United States. Let me say that again. In the United States. A woman who read this list came up to me and said how can they do this. I sputtered along about extremists and the right and Christian Coalition but she bought none of it. And I suppose she is right. The reason goes deeper than that.

Somewhere we forgot about literature. The role of literature, of art is to illuminate. Good fiction should tell a truth that does push an agenda. It should not bend to our time. But we live in the age of the Internet where everything bends to our time. We live in age where if thy channel offends thee switch it. We watch different news so we can hear what we want to hear. If thine eye offends thee find another blogger. Literature is a maddening piece of stone. It just sits there and tells its story and it is immutable. We may not like the narrator of Huckleberry Finn and his politically incorrect use of the N word but the book doesn't care. The work belongs to the ages and cares not for ours.

So we ban them. We really dont' want to hear contrary views anymore. We don't have to. Just a couple clicks away on the cable diorama and there is our channel. Our view. But those damn books. They just tell their story and we find them morally offensive, socially offensive, sexually offensive, and irreligious. And the worst thing is you can't switch the channel! So ban them. That will show those bastards.

William Hazelgrove' latest novel is Rocket Man due out in September

Books by William Hazelgrove