Saturday, September 27, 2008

Freedom to Read

I've been contacted by an organization trolling for "Banned Book Week" entries on the Internet, and I've been given important news.

Apparently, I don't love my children. Or any children. Or even the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe even America. And I certainly do not love God. (Wow, and I didn't even realize She was in the mix.)

The gist of the comment was that some children don't need to read some books. You know what? That's right. However, that's for their parents or guardians to decide.

When I was a child, my parents saw every book I was reading. Only once did Mom suggest I wait until I was older to read one book. (Helter Skelter really was a little intense for a 10-year-old.)

But here's the important thing to remember: I walked out of the library with the book.

It is not up to librarians, or committees, or mayors, or the government to decide what I can read. It's up to me and, if I am of an age, my parents.

Are there some books that children shouldn't read? Are there some books I read before I should have? Are there some books that contain objectionable material? Are there some books that shouldn't even see the light of day?

As my grandmother would have said, "Oh, jes."

But woe to the librarian or government official who tries to tell my children, my husband, or me whether we may read it.

Finally, should objectionable materials be in libraries? (I think that's the key issue for the group that tried to re-educate me.) And I phrase my answer in the form of a question: what's objectionable? I find Holocaust deniers objectionable and obscene. You may consider it fact. I like dinosaur books. You might think that's fiction and a challenge to your faith.

We can agree on some things that are unsuitable for the library. (My re-educators cited the U.S. Supreme Court, which has addressed this issue and established some guidelines, a good place to start.) The rest, let us decide for ourselves. I'll take care of my family. You take care of yours.

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