Wednesday, June 24, 2009

demanding the right to burn books.

A long time ago, when I would have hung such a poster up in my room with tacks, instead of preferring to have framed art hanging around my house, I thought this was the best print I'd ever seen in my entire life:

I don't know why censorship has always been such a big deal to me. (I mean, aside from the obvious left-leaning mother who raised me.) I've never been censored in an extravagant manner, as far as I can remember. I'm sure there were times in high school when I felt like the teachers who were lording over me, or even just society in general, were censoring me to an unbearable degree, but years removed from those situations, I can't even remember what my complaints would have been which, to me, means they were probably not extraordinary.

I remember learning about Tienanmen Square and that having a big effect, as it should, clearly, but I do think the thing that got my goat the most, and continues to do so today, was the censorship of books. The idea that someone would find a book offensive and thus, through their personal discomfort, think that book should be removed from everyone's viewpoint...this, to me, was unbearable. As though people cannot possibly fathom that the world is slightly larger than just them! (I seriously have to stop with this paragraph now or else this will just turn into another rant of a blog entry that can never be taken seriously. But really, I think people who understand already do and those who don't probably never will. Which is super unfortunate.)

Regardless, when I read about Robert C. Braun seeking the right to publicly burn a book that he finds offensive (and also demanding $30,000 per plaintiff "for being exposed to the book in a library display") it makes me alternately nauseous and aggressively angry.

I'm worried a lot of times about preaching to the choir here. It's not like there's a lot of need to convince anyone who actually reads this of much of what I'm saying, but I think it's worth echoing once again. The strength of a democracy, in my opinion, can be determined by how we treat our weakest links. A library is one of the tangible signs of that treatment. A place where knowledge (which truly is power) is free for all. There has to be a cornucopia of options for all people at all times in order for a society to be truly free. Otherwise, what's the point?

Recommended listening for this entry: Kleptones - Question.

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