"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Monday, September 29, 2008

Read A Banned Book!

It's pretty near impossible to escape all the depressing news these days - major financial crisis, preachers telling us how to vote (and who to vote for), and on and on... Well, don't despair; no need to medicate. Just in time to save us from the sky that is about to fall (according to President Bush) if Congress doesn't pass the Bailout Bill (exactly as he wants it),


That's right folks, it's the perfect time to escape the humdrum routine of perpetual war, global warming and the current financial woes with a copy of one of those great, controversial books that have gotten people's dander up over the years. Whether it's the Harry Potter or Junie B Jones series or Slaughterhouse Five, there is a banned/challenged book for just about everyone.

I recently spoke with King County Library System (KCLS) Programming Goddess (not her official title, but it sounds better) Debbie Schneider about Banned Books Week. She told me that this year KCLS is not having any activities directly associated with Banned Books Week, but instead is focusing on Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace...One School At A Time, a wonderful book by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I have read it, and I find it a wonderfully refreshing perspective on how "ordinary" people can make peace when those in power are still trying to do it at the point of a gun.

Debbie said that people can find out everything they want to know about Banned books (including lists of banned/challenged books through the years) at the American Library Association (ALA) Banned Books Week Webpage. As for Debbie, she just finished re-reading Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451, and when asked about her favorite banned/challenged book, she said, Maya Angelou’s I know why the caged bird sings.

Debbie reminded me that we walk a slippery slope as soon as even consider removing any book from our public libraries. If we remove just one book that we consider unnacceptable, which will be next? Who will decide? What are the repercussions on intellectual freedom?

At a time when our Constitution is threatened by those we elect to protect it, it is particularly fitting that we really celebrate Banned Books Week. And I think it is fitting to celebrate not only the freedom to read, but also those who are on the frontlines of the struggle to maintain intellectual freedom, those noble librarians. Can't you just picture some librarian wrestling a book away from Sarah Palin before she can toss it in the fire???

So go check out a banned book this week, and while you are there, thank a librarian for protecting our freedom to read.



P.S. - You can find many more great posters like the one above at http://www.oldamericancentury.org/.

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