30 September 2004

ALA's Banned Books Week

My eldest progeny informs me that this is the American Library Association's Banned Books Week. During Banned Books Week libraries put up displays of books that have been banned at various times during history and encourage library patrons to take one home to read. The list of books that have been banned is quite extensive and includes everything from the Bible to Little House on the Prairie.

Are there books that are not much more than garbage? Absolutely. Are there books that espouse ideas that I think are wrong? Definitely. That's not to say that it doesn't matter what you read - care should certainly be taken to assure that the diet of reading is a healthy one. But, learning to identify what is junk and what is good in a book seems to me to be a better solution than just banning them outright.

Here's what Dwight D. Eisenhower had to say about banning books about communism:

Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as any document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.

How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is, what it teaches, and why does it have such an appeal for men, why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It's almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.

And we have got to fight it with something better, not try to conceal the thinking of our own people. They are part of America. And even if they think ideas that are contrary to ours, their right to say them, their right to record them, and their right to have them at places where they're accessible to others is unquestioned, or it's not America.

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