The Freedoms of Speech and Press are pretty worthless if we don’t have the freedom to read, to listen, and to view. Banned Books Week is that annual reminder that there are those in our society who want to dictate what is available for our consumption; our reminder that such attempts must be stopped in their tracks.
Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.”
Books ranging from The Bible to Huckleberry Finn to Harry Potter have been challenged over the years by well-meaning people who thought the content was dangerous to children, or that the language was offensive, or that a particular viewpoint clashed with cultural values.
These freedoms have been hard won over the course of Western Civilization—soldiers have died on battlefields for these principles—and we should take seriously any attempts to restrict access to ideas.
Seventeenth-century English poet John Milton saw Freedom of Speech as a right that includes not only the right to express and disseminate information and ideas, but also:
- the right to seek information and ideas;
- the right to receive information and ideas;
- the right to impart information and ideas.
Indeed, Milton’s philosophy of free expression, and his belief that governments should protect this right, would eventually become part of the U.S. Constitution. We all have our preferences. There are books, songs, movies, poems and art that I find distasteful. There are political, religious and social viewpoints that I find dangerous. But if I am to help uphold American values of freedom, and if I truly believe in the great Marketplace of Ideas, I won’t dictate what I think other people should read, listen to, view or believe.
To Celebrate Banned Books Week, Rose State College’s Learning Resources Center is hosting a week of activities from September 26 through September 30. Check it out!
- Monday, Sept 26. Panel Debate. Should we or shouldn’t we? Don’t miss this panel of local experts and media professionals who will debate banning materials in libraries. What is appropriate? Moderator: Wendell Edwards, KOCO news anchor. Panelists: Rep. Jason Nelson; Jim Roth, former Corporation Commissioner; Mark Thomas, Executive Director OK Press Association.
12:15-1:30 pm, Learning Resources Center (LRC), Rm 109/110
- Tuesday, Sept 27. Read-OUT. Join this first impromptu gathering as readers share excerpts from banned or controversial books, featuring Carl Sennhenn and students from the Rose State College Theatre Department.
9:00 am in front of LRC
- Wednesday, Sept 28. “Censorship and First Amendment Rights” — Presentation by Dr. Joey Senat, OSU Associate Professor of Journalism, will speak about censorship and first amendment rights. Prepare to be entertained and informed. You won’t want to miss this one.
9:30-10:45 am, Raider Room, Student Center
- Thursday, Sept 29. Read-OUT. Join this second impromptu gathering as readers share excerpts from banned or controversial books, featuring Tim Tharp and students from the Rose State College Theatre Department.
3:30 pm in front of LRC
- All week. Banned Book Display. Come view some books that have been banned or challenged in libraries.
Learning Resources Center, 1st floor
Our Literary Cat says next week is Banned Books Week. Thanks for the reminder, cat!
For your viewing pleasure: a list of twelve books guaranteed to turn (almost) anyone into a censor from the great site Booktryst. We like this site because it tends to give us the oddball and offbeat side of the book world, as you can see from this post, or this post. And what about this post!?
We also like Booktryst because one of its contributors is a former Oklahoma librarian, Cokie G. Anderson. Cokie is basking in the sane temperatures of the Great Northwest now, but she still loves her some books!
OK, we’ve given you fair warning. Time to select a banned or challenged book to read sometime between September 25 and October 2.
And as always, do let us know what you’re reading. We love hearing from you.