The 25 author meme I did the other day got my google going. Looking for images to put in it, I happened across The Forbidden Library. It is a site that lists books that have been banned or challenged at some time during their existence out here in Real World. I was astounded at the size of the list. I was even more astounded at some of the of the titles and the reasons for pulling them off the shelves. It would seem that every book has the capability to ruffle someones feathers somewhere.
You could expect the usual huge numbers from countries like the USSR and Nazi Germany. After all, they elevated book burning to a level that would make any good PR man blush in envy. What I was more impressed with were the number of titles pulled from the book shelves of America. I am guessing from just my quick run through, the numbers may be in the hundreds. Randal, my go to Librarian guy could probably fill us in much better than I.
My mom was an assistant children's librarian at the big library in Sanford back in the late 1960s. My mom felt that children should be able to read whatever they wanted to provided their mom and dad were on board with it. Right or wrong, this is how I was raised. I was never held back from anything I wanted to read. Not even "Mad" magazine. So imagine her tirades at home after work because she had to keep some titles out of sight. Or worse, deal with requests for certain books and they were not on the shelves because they had been deemed not only not suitable for children nor suitable for adults. One had to purchase them if they wanted to read them in Sanford. She would often take some of my kid books in to read to the kids. After being dressed down in front of the room full of kids she was reading to, she became so frustrated she quit. She was asked to come back. She told them to pound sand. They were not going to change their policy regarding the books deemed unsuitable.
So, this effort to control the messages and information we have at our disposal goes back centuries and millenniums. Many instances are because of religious intolerance, political intolerance, and often just about as stupid a reason as could come Down the pike. Just under "L" in the "Forbidden Site" is Shel Silverstein's "A Light in the Attic", a very excellent and clever childrens book. It was banned in Minot, ND, because it was felt children would think it was okay to break dishes instead of washing them. And just to show that either side of the political aisle can get their panties in a bunch, Laura Ingalls Wilder's, "Little House on the Prairie" was banned in Sturgis, SD for derogatory depictions of Native Americans. Seems those folks from the Dakotas might just be wound a little tighter than they should be. Must be the lack of trees.
When I hear people whine about how we now live in a World of less freedom, I often consider that what we had many years ago was no better. It boils down to which form of control is most important I guess. Controlling the flow of ideas or the fact we have to take off our shoes before we can board an airplane.
But then I realize that for most part people do not even notice or care about such things. As long as their insular worlds are relatively safe, they have food, clothing, and a roof over their heads, the rest of it is so much bullshit. And this is sad to me to think that it takes crisis or catastrophe to shock ourselves into some kind of awareness of the bigger picture.
Freedom is lost not by tyrants taking it away. Freedom is lost because more often than not we leave Freedom outside in the rain without a lock on it. And it just disappears one day.
Keep it 'tween the Ditches..............
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