As we all know, book banning has been around since forever but things have begun to change for the benefit of the opposing side–the people who don’t want book bans. Illinois has passed a law prohibiting any library from banning books for discriminating reasons. If done so, the library’s fundings will be revoked.
There is a full list of current banned books in America, along with which states those books cannot be read in. As of now, Florida has banned these books: A Court Of Thorns and Roses series; All The Bright Places; Red, White & Royal Blue; The Bluest Eye; Thirteen Reasons Why, and many, many others. Indiana has banned the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, while Missouri has been doing the same as Florida– banning quite a number of books such as the Locke & Key series. Many states have also banned Gender Queer: A Memoir, This Book Is Gay and The Hate U Give.
Although others may think that book bans are a good thing, it really isn’t since it directly contradicts our First Amendment by destroying a person’s rights to receive and express ideas of their own. I believe that the retaliation against book bans would be a beneficial thing to do for entire communities–and perhaps even for the entire country–simply because reasons for banning books are either mischaracterized or just plain stupid.
Not much is discussed about the history of banned books, but it began with the burning of them in ancient times. Then, in 1873, the Comstock Law prevented the trade of obscene literature and articles for inappropriate use. In the 1970s, book banning reached its highest point, generating increasing complaints as the list piled higher and higher. Due to the surge, Banned Books Week was created with the purpose of removing restrictions from books and building a community of acceptance. This year, Banned Books Week is beginning on Oct. 1 and ending on Oct. 7.
As mentioned before, Illinois has made the move to prohibit book bans in public schools and libraries, with Governor J.B. Pritzker signing the bill for the law on Monday, June 12th this year. In turn, the bill will become a law, which will most likely take effect next year in Jan. 2024. The reason behind this action was to respond to the rise in book-banning efforts, along with “showing the nation what it really looks like to stand up for liberty,” according to Gov. Pritzker.
Another factor behind the book ban prohibition would be the major loss of librarians’ jobs. Since many people follow up with laws that make planting complaints on specific books easier, groups of people chased out librarians from their jobs for holding onto books that they targeted. In the words of Tracie D. Hall, executive director of the American Library Association: “Libraries are not in the book banning business, but they are becoming sites of censorship by groups that are oftentimes not even reading the books.” Hall’s quote represents another reason for book bans: the titles or covers depict something that many people can go against without even looking at the content for themselves. This is a main point that will be mentioned later on, so keep it in mind.
People– especially children– should have the freedom to read whatever they wish. Everyone should at least be able to fulfill their reading interests, even if it has to be known through a forbidden book that may not even be put back on the shelf. This is easily represented by Pritzker’s decision, as it adds a new thumbtack into the battle over what children should be reading in the present times.
Banned books, most obviously, are forbidden for a multitude of reasons, but if anything, they all have one thing in common: they’re not age-appropriate for children. Of course, all kinds of books can contain all sorts of things: graphic descriptions, sensitive topics (i.e., suicide, abuse, drugs, rape and mental illnesses), gender and sexuality choices, etc. Unfortunately, these are some of the main reasons that a large number of books are banned, especially those containing LGBTQ+ themes and ones written by colored people. From that alone, people tend to criticize the books with those themes, and the worst part about it all: they don’t even bother to check the book out or even read through it.
Their reasoning? According to southern Illinois Republican Blaine Wilhour, books were banned because of “inappropriate content,” saying that “It’s never been about banning books. It’s always been about age appropriate…” This comes to show just how books are removed just because of their views, themes, and origins–it is apparently for the sake of children and how they should only read what they manage to understand.
Sure, that may be true, but what if they wish to discover more instead of being forced to stay in a spectrum where they only understand what they’re taught? Some people have a natural curiosity for what they don’t know, after all. Perhaps instead of removing specific books from libraries entirely, put them in a section and leave a warning for people to read those books at their own discretion. Let people read whatever they wish to read instead of just simply constricting their freedom to do so.
. When it comes to books, I feel like the reasons behind banning them seem unnecessary. No one should be prevented from reading what they want to read, no matter what the topic is. If the other states were to follow in the footsteps of Illinois and change the terms of forbidden books in all libraries, perhaps everyone could appreciate the content they read and begin understanding more about the world around them.