Banned book week has come and gone but while working at the bookstore this past week, I learned that many of the books I’ve enjoyed reading over the years were banned for a variety of reasons. And these weren’t just fantasy books either. Quite a few classics have landed on these lists as well. A customer was curious about why certain books were banned so I checked online and found that many were not banned nationwide, but oftentimes only by specific school districts. And again, for a wide range of reasons. Language. Sexual Content. Political viewpoint…just to name a few. Now I’m not saying people shouldn’t be able to voice their opinions or their objections or be able to decide whether or not they or their children read certain books, but it got me thinking–
No matter what you write or how cleanly you write, you will likely find someone somewhere who finds your work objectionable.
And that can be a troubling revelation for a new author…if you let it.
People who know me in real life know I try hard not to be impolite. I have my views like anyone else, but I don’t believe people have to subscribe to them in order for me to get along with them. In fact, some very interesting conversations can be had when you’re discussing a topic with someone who has a differing viewpoint, assuming you’re both capable of maintaining a level of civility during the discussion. Note, I said ‘discussion’ not argument. Arguing rarely ever resolves anything well…at least in my experience (but feel free to ‘discuss’ that with me, if you like).
I’ve heard the two topics you shouldn’t discuss in polite conversation is religion or politics and I tend to think that is true, especially nowadays, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that the upcoming election year will likely devolve into such chaos and name-calling and political muck-raking that in the end we’ll all probably just need to take a long, hot shower. And that’s too bad because I think that while every side is busy screaming at the other side, no one is taking the time to really listen to anyone anymore. Most people it seems will look at either the “R” or the “D” in front of a name and automatically form an opinion about that person and their views (even if you have no idea beyond those letters what that person actually believes or stands for). I know I’m guilty of doing the same from time to time. With so many time constraints, it’s just easier to do that.
And that brings me back to the banned books. Now, I don’t usually allow a book’s status–banned, not banned–to determine if I’m going to read it or not, but I wonder how many people do. Have you ever not read a book because someone told you it was banned? Do you allow someone else’s objections to a book to rule your own thoughts? Or are you like some who take the banned book status as a challenge? They go out of their way to read these books so as to determine whether it is something they like (or don’t like) based on their own thoughts and ideas?
Not that either answer is right…or wrong…I’m just curious.
(See, I really am a polite fellow…perhaps to a fault! Some of you will probably find that objectionable! Oh no…!)
I wish you all well with your own writing endeavors (even if one day they end up being banned!).