As literature has progressed through history to modern day, books have caused impacts on societal norms. Writers do not always write for readers who use polite language. Because of this, some books have been removed from shelves of libraries and banned from other similar institutions.
Some of these books are full of strong sexual content, or use obscene language as a means of emotional expression. Other books have been targeted for banning by being racially insensitive or disrespectful to the social idea of decency.
Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”, has been contested and taken to court numerous times and banned from many libraries, being considered racially insensitive to people dis-empowered by slavery.
During Twains life, he was an avid abolitionist fighting against the very idea of slavery. And in his own ways, used his stories as a means to make the plight of slaves more visible and the acts of slave masters more despicable.
The English proverb “never judge a book by its cover” is the perfect example when it comes to interpreting works of literature and art. In writing, there are specific story lines and character developments that deliver a stories meaning and message.
To criticize classic literature by current standards, distorts the writing’s initial purpose and also contradicts that purpose. This re-categorizes the story’s fundamental message as negative when it does not apply to current society.
Understandable as it is to want negative word usage removed from a book so that it is politically correct, there is a factor many may not see in the use of those negative words. It causes a person to consider the effects of such words and may enable a positive move forward.
This, for literature, allows writers to light a fire within the hearts of society by illustrating social wrongs, which enables and alerts them to the crisis. Giving them a chance to change hidden-under-the-rug social problems.
For William Pynchon, who in 1650 wrote “The Meritorious Price Of Our Redemption, Iustification, &c.,” the social response was instantaneous dislike. In the market place of Springfield, MA, judiciaries burned the book, attempting to obliterate its seemingly evil message.
Pynchon’s religious arguments caused the puritans to discredit his work and put him on trial. This is an early example of the extent to which society can determine what subject matter is socially relevant.
So why are books banned? Disagreements of the contents value and/or significance to enabling a strong and morally sound social being creates a dissolution of, at least in some ways, the First Amendment Free Speech Rights.
There are some books that should perhaps be limited to specific age groups and/or establishments. These books are often too graphic for the average family. However, if an individual wants their voice to be heard, then being open to those voices is essential to maintaining an open society.
So, by banning or limiting the content in which people engage each other through means of literature and works of art, is to restrict disagreeable views. Which opposes the very idea of an open society.
A wise man might say “he who does not consider the perspective of another, loses sight of himself by limiting himself to never knowing more than himself.”
Banned books week will be taking place from September 36 through the 30th at the RSC LRC