Let books be ready for reading

Nearly everyone agrees censorship and banning books (or, rather, eliminating access to books) are wrong … except for that one book he or she disagrees with or that makes him or her uncomfortable.

Every year the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association issues its list of the most “challenged” books in the country. These are the books Americans object to most, in public schools and libraries.

One such book is continually targeted for sexual and violent content, and the legal questions it raises, particularly in a public school setting: the Holy Bible. Yes, the Bible garners the same kinds of objections from allegedly concerned citizens as do “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Two Boys Kissing” and “Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan.”

American Library Association officials try to suggest gently that, of course, the Bible belongs in libraries – as do the Quran, Bhagavad Gita, Book of Mormon, and any other religious text a library can obtain. But the truth is banning books does more harm than any good objectors are pretending to do. And, practically speaking, limiting access is the fastest way to increase interest in a book.

Library officials say the number of formal requests to pull books from library shelves was down last year, but still an absurd 275. Meanwhile, complaints about material assigned in English classes are on the rise.

“We see the danger of censorship moving from the school library into the English classroom,” said Office of Intellectual Freedom Director James LaRue.

Censorship and banning books are dangerous and wrong. They are the tools of small minds bent on controlling others by limiting their access to information. Such behavior is ridiculous and sad in a country where freedom is valued more than in any other.

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