Saturday, September 24, 2011

Can We be Trusted to Think for Ourselves?

Izzie and I were at our favorite indie bookstore yesterday, and the front display held a large table entitled "buy a banned book". This concept isn't exactly new, but I'd never seen the sheer number of books that have been banned before. Everything from Dr. Seuss's The Lorax to A Wrinkle in Time to Speak.

Odd, I thought we lived in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I'm not suggesting for one moment that it's a great idea for a twelve year old to read Crank, or to encourage a third grader read The Hunger Games. While I've actually seen both of these examples, I didn't say anything. Parents can decide what's best for their children. Simply put, who am I to question or take away that choice?

I'll never forget when Kate read Number the Stars in fourth grade. It deeply disturbed her, but instead of me ranting at the teacher for suggesting it, the library for carrying it, or her for choosing it, I talked to her. We discussed the book, and I allowed her to express her outrage, her emotions, what it was that bothered her about the book. She came away from the experience with a new appreciation of how people should be treated, and a new opinion that she had formulated herself. 

It all comes down to this. Do we feel that the population at large is not intelligent enough to discern what it is they should and should not read? Are we as a society willing to trust the people of our nation to think for themselves?