What Does It Mean For A Book To Be Banned? (SOLVED!)

In America, when we talk about “banned books,” we usually really mean “challenged books.” A book becomes “challenged” when an individual or group attempts to get it removed from a library or school curriculum. If the challenge is successful, then the book has been “banned.” According to the ALA, the top three reasons for challenging books are sexual explicitness, offensive language, and unsuitability for the targeted age group. It is usually the parents of school children who end up challenging books, in the attempt to protect their children from what they deem to be inappropriate material. Some of the YA books that have been challenged this year include The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (see the rest of the top 10 here) 🤓 [1]
Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he’s having having the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” (we really appreciate Margrett Cormier for pointing this out). [2]
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Ala.org provides further insight. If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he’s having having the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. (cheers to Sharnice Manuel for their most recent revision). [3]
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The analysts from libguides.butler.edu give further information. Many books have been banned or censored in one or more of these categories due to a misjudgment or misunderstanding about the books contents and message. Although a book may have been banned or labeled a certain way, it is important that the reader makes his/her own judgements on the book. Many books that have been banned or censored later were dropped from banned books lists and were no longer considered controversial. For this reason, banned books week occurs yearly to give readers a chance to revisit past or recently banned books to encourage a fresh look into the controversies the books faced. [4]
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Article References

  1. https://dailygeekette.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/so-what-exactly-does-banned-book-mean/
  2. https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned-books-qa
  3. https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/aboutbannedbooks
  4. https://libguides.butler.edu/bannedbooks?p=217686
Kelly-Anne Kidston

Written by Kelly-Anne Kidston

I am a writer of many words, from fiction to poetry to reviews. I am an avid reader and a lover of good books. I am currently writing my first novel and would love to find some beta readers who are interested in getting an early look.

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