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Banning books and censoring literature has been a contentious issue for many years, and remains a topic of debate in today’s society. While some argue that this approach is necessary to protect individuals from offensive or harmful material, others argue that it ultimately takes us backwards rather than forward.

Is censorship actually hindering our progress as a society? Is detrimental to our society and our ability to engage with the world around us? Shouldn’t free expression, diverse perspectives, and open dialogue, be the elements that are crucial to our ability to learn, grow, and move forward as a society?

Let’s take a look at some of the books found on “banned books” lists around the country and the world, and by the time you’re done reading, take a moment to think about what the common denominators are and exactly what it means for society and progress. Or, more importantly, find these books, read them and then decide.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a novel written by Harper Lee and published in 1960. It is set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression and tells the story of a young girl named Scout Finch and her family, who are deeply affected by racial tensions and injustices in their community.

The novel is primarily concerned with issues of racial inequality and the destruction of innocence. The central character, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer who is appointed to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a white woman. The story is told from the perspective of Scout, Atticus’s daughter, as she witnesses the events of the trial and grapples with the injustices and prejudices of her society.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” has faced challenges and bans in schools and libraries across the United States, primarily due to its use of racial slurs and its depictions of racism and violence. Some have also argued that the novel promotes a “white savior” narrative and that it is inappropriate for younger readers.

Some have argued that the reasons this book should be forbidden is the use of racial slurs is offensive and that the novel promotes a negative view of law enforcement. However, many argue that the book is a powerful critique of racism and prejudice and that it is an important tool for educating readers about these issues.

 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

“The Catcher in the Rye” is a novel written by J.D. Salinger and published in 1951. It is a coming-of-age story that follows the experiences of a teenage boy named Holden Caulfield over the course of a few days in New York City.

The novel deals with themes of alienation, loss of innocence, and the struggles of adolescence. Holden is disillusioned with the “phoniness” and hypocrisy of adult society and struggles to find a sense of connection and purpose in the world. Throughout the novel, he grapples with feelings of depression and isolation and confronts a number of complex ethical and moral dilemmas.

“The Catcher in the Rye” has been challenged and banned in schools and libraries in the United States for its use of profanity, sexual content, and depictions of drug use and alcohol abuse. Some have also argued that the novel promotes rebellion and anti-authoritarianism, and that it is inappropriate for younger readers.

Some claim that this inappropriate for high school students and that it could be harmful to their mental health. But, not to worry, TIK TOK is here to save the day, right?

 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

“Of Mice and Men” is a novella written by John Steinbeck and published in 1937. The novella is set during the Great Depression and tells the story of two migrant farm workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, who are seeking work in California. The novella explores themes of friendship, loneliness, and the American Dream.

The novella has been challenged and banned in schools and libraries in the United States for its use of profanity, sexual content, and its depiction of violence. Some have also argued that the novella is inappropriate for younger readers due to its themes of racism, sexism, and ableism.

Yes, it contains offensive language and mentions euthanasia. But are those reasons to ban this book? Few can say that the novella is not a powerful and important work of literature that sheds light on the experiences of migrant workers and the struggles of the working class during the Great Depression.

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“Brave New World” is a novel written by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. The novel is set in a dystopian future society where humans are genetically engineered and conditioned to conform to a strict social hierarchy. The novel explores themes of individuality, freedom, and the dangers of totalitarianism.

The novel has faced challenges and bans in schools and libraries in the United States for its sexual content, drug use, and its critique of religion and traditional values. Some have also argued that the novel is inappropriate for younger readers due to its themes of sexuality and drug use.

It has been stated that it is anti-family, anti-religion, and promotes drug use and promiscuity. But who can deny that it is a powerful and important work of literature that raises important questions about the role of technology, government, and individual freedom in society.

 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

“The Color Purple” is a novel written by Alice Walker and published in 1982. The novel is set in rural Georgia during the 1930s and tells the story of Celie, a young African American woman who faces abuse and oppression from her stepfather and husband. The novel explores themes of race, gender, and the power of sisterhood.

The novel has faced challenges and bans in schools and libraries in the United States for its depictions of violence, sexual content, and its use of profanity. Some have also argued that the novel is inappropriate for younger readers due to its themes of sexual abuse and lesbianism.

As realistic as the story is, as some know that the things described in the story happened quite often during that period in time, there are those who would like to completely delete it from the history of literature as pornographic, blasphemous, and promoting anti-Christian values. Of course, they don’t factor in that the novel is a powerful and important work of literature that sheds light on the experiences of African American women and the legacy of racism and sexism in the United States. Why else would Orpah have agreed to play the role in the movie of the same title?

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a novel written by Margaret Atwood and published in 1985. The novel is set in a dystopian future where the United States has been replaced by the theocratic and patriarchal society of Gilead. The novel explores themes of gender, power, and oppression.

The novel has faced challenges and bans in schools and libraries in the United States for its sexual content, profanity, and its portrayal of religion and government. Some have also argued that the novel is inappropriate for younger readers due to its themes of sexual violence and abortion.

It may be argued that it is anti-Christian, anti-family, and promotes sexual promiscuity. But if the novel wasn’t a powerful and important work of literature that raises important questions about the dangers of religious fundamentalism and the role of women in society, then how do they explain the success of the Hulu series based on it?

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“Fahrenheit 451” is a novel written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. The novel is set in a dystopian future where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. The novel explores themes of censorship, conformity, and the dangers of technology.

The novel has faced challenges and bans in schools and libraries in the United States for its use of profanity, violence, and its portrayal of government and authority. Some have also argued that the novel is inappropriate for younger readers due to its themes of suicide and the portrayal of a dysfunctional family.

As shocking as it was for 1953 society, to be described in 2023 as anti-Christian, promoting anti-authoritarianism, and glorifying suicide, just takes us back to a mindset a long time before the ’50s. Undeniably it is a powerful and important work of literature that raises important questions about the role of censorship and the value of free thought and expression.

 

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“Catch-22” is a novel written by Joseph Heller and published in 1961. The novel is set during World War II and follows the experiences of a bomber squadron in the U.S. Army Air Forces. The novel explores themes of war, bureaucracy, and the absurdity of human life.

The novel has faced challenges and bans in schools and libraries in the United States for its sexual content, profanity, and its portrayal of war and the military. Some have also argued that the novel is inappropriate for younger readers due to its themes of violence and sexual activity.

The reasons for banning the book vary, but what does “anti-military”, “anti-patriotic”, and “promoting anti-Christian values” mean in today’s society which, supposedly and above all, values freedom? How harmful is it that this book satirizes the military and war, and raises important questions about the nature of human existence?

 

After taking a look at all of the above, take a look around you. So what do you see, what do you feel?

The act of banning books and censoring literature may seem like a way to protect individuals from potentially harmful or offensive material. However, this approach is misguided and ultimately takes us backward rather than forward. Banning books and censoring literature stifles free speech, limits access to diverse perspectives, and prevents important conversations from taking place.

By banning books, we risk limiting our ability to learn from history, explore new ideas, and engage with the world around us. Instead of banning books, we should encourage open dialogue, critical thinking, and a willingness to engage with difficult and controversial topics.

As we move forward, we must recognize the importance of literature in shaping our understanding of the world, and the value of diverse voices and perspectives in shaping our collective narrative. Let us resist the urge to ban books and censor literature, and instead embrace the power of free expression to help us move forward as a society.

Author: Nikól Peri

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