Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I believe it is "Banned Books" week

which brings me to this article.
http://newhumanist.org.uk/2404/banned-the-hidden-censorship-of-childrens-books

It also brings me to some thoughts about things that have been banned here at various times. Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" was banned at one point because it was thought to be "too frightening" for young children. It is now regarded as a classic of children's picture book literature.
All Enid Blyton was banned from school libraries at one point. I think the reality of that ban was that books that were already there stayed there but librarians were simply not permitted to buy any more books by Enid Blyton. The reason for that ban was that someone decided EB was a "bad writer". She was superficial and, like a diet of nothing but icecream, not going to give you a balanced reading diet but - bad?
There was Judy Blume's "Deenie", "Forever" and "Then Again Maybe I Won't" - and these are still banned in some places because they mention teenage sex.
Questions were asked whether William Mayne's work should remain on the shelves after his conviction for child sex offences. They stayed - but only after a committee had carefully examined each one.
At the same time "Go Ask Alice" was left on the shelves because of the "dreadful warning" about the dangers of drugs. Blume's books are now available in some public libraries but "Go Ask Alice" does not seem to be there. Perhaps it should be.
I was once responsible for a school library and the buying of new library books. I was told to take Jill Paton Walsh's book "The Dolphin Crossing" off the shelves because it deals with war and a death occurs. The real problem for many of the parents was that the book does not glorify war but rather tells of the brutal reality of boys trying to do a job that not even men should be asked to do. What about the Silver Sword or The Ark or I am David?
What sparked this blog post off was the mention of Bette Greene's "The Summer of My German Soldier" - first published in 1973. Apparently it is still seen as being about 'consorting with the enemy' and it is still banned in some places.
I read Sons and Lovers in my teens. My father gave it to me. I found it dull.
Now David Hicks is about to publish a book. That is his right. He will not actually have written it although it will be touted as his autobiography. I do not believe he should be permitted to make money from the venture. He went in active search of adventure and, in doing so, cost the Australian tax payer a vast sum of money. Anything he earns should be returned to the taxpayer. Banning the book however will merely make it more desirable.
Unfortunately banning books for children is not quite the same thing. They tend to get really banned. They do not even get published. Nobody is quite prepared to take the same risk. If, as Anne Rooney suggests in her article, books are being banned on nothing more than an image of what might be a Tibetan flag on top of a roundabout/merry go round then we really have something to worry about.
It is time we started to worry the thought police.

3 comments:

Sheep Rustler said...

I have always hated Enid Blyton because she was such an awful writer, but I do not believe in books being banned at all. We had a rule at home when I was growing up, that if I could reach a book, I could read it. We had much the same rule for our kids. On the whole people are not corrupted by books, though they may be worried or frightened or disgusted. Or put off reading, which is much worse. But I firmly believe that if people are allowed to browse and to read to their own tastes, they will be all right in the long run. Some books will give some children nightmares, but maybe that is an introduction to life, which is sometimes the stuff of nightmares. I read The Silver Sword several times from the age of five, and I can still remember it very clearly. Now my kids read much more intense books at school from an early age and actually study them.

As for David Hicks' book - I can't work out how that gets beyond the Proceeds of Crime laws myself, he was convicted of a crime (overseas) and served time for it here as well as overseas, but was it a political crime? I don't know. I also doubt that he will have written a word of the book himself. I hope his ghost writer gets paid!

catdownunder said...

His ghost writer will have been paid - but I wonder at anyone wanting to do it.
I don't think the Proceeds of Crime issue has been settled but he should not be paid for it!

Anonymous said...

Some people tear pages out of books or take the whole book from public libraries. They think they are caring for other (less moral/religious/PC) people. I think it's censorship and stealing.