October 06, 2012

Celebrating the books that cause dangerous thoughts

It's Banned Books Week, time to celebrate the freedom to read, as the traditional slogan goes, and the right to read, as a newer one I saw this year for the first time goes. We celebrate the fact that books make people think dangerous thoughts about questioning authority and rebelling against conformity, and above all, we celebrate the fact that when organisations ban books to keep that from happening, the books always outlive the bans.

Nowadays in the Western world the out-and-out banning of books by government or religious authorities is not very frequent, but narrow-minded community groups have stepped into the breach with insidious campaigns to get books "cleaned up", ie censored, to render them fit for consumption by young people. Or maybe more than "fit" they just mean "easy". Easy and undistinguished, like fast food.

Matt Bors is a cartoonist and editor at Cartoon Movement whom you may have heard of from his having collaborated with war correspondent David Axe on his talked-about graphic novel memoir about war in the 21st century, War is boring: bored stiff, scared to death in the world's worst war zones. Here is a great cartoon he drew which lampoons this new practice of book-sanitising, from a post called "White wash" on his blog Bors Blog ("comics, politics and ridicule"):

The first panel is true: a sanitised edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn really was published for use in schools where an understanding of the past, including its evils, is evidently not among the lessons children are supposed to learn. The others, well, I'd like to say clearly not, but I wouldn't swear to it!

Read about Banned Books Week, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, on the American Library Association website.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 04:30


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