Sunday, October 12, 2014

Banned Books and Irony

We are constantly hearing about various books being banned across the United States and other countries. Usually in the United States, it's a small group of people from the Christian persuasion who find a book offensive, pornographic, blasphemous, etc. etc. For example, the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman is offensive to Catholics who then attempted to have it removed from various schools and libraries around the country (they even picketed outside movie theaters when the first book, "The Golden Compass," was made into a movie). It didn't help that Pullman admitted he intended for it to be offensive.

An attempt to ban a book by a group of small group is nothing new. 

But what is new is the (so far successful) attempt of books being banned for being "too Christian." Yes, you read that right. A small group of atheist in California successfully lobbied and compelled a local school to remove books from its library shelves for being overtly Christian. One of those books is "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Bloom. The book is an autobiography about how a families faith helped them survive the Holocaust. It does not preach or try to convert, and does not insist that the reader believe in God. It simply tells the story of a family who believe in God and how that belief affected how they treated and viewed both their fellow prisoners and their captors.

Maybe your first reaction is - Good! Maybe you're thinking, "It's about time those over zealous Christians know how it feels."
Maybe you aren't thinking those things. Maybe, like me, you're thinking of that old cliché: "Two Wrongs don't make a Right."

Banning a book because of the ideas it contains is bad. Period. Your opinion of those ideas is irrelevant. You have the right to free speech, you have the right to express your opinion, and people have the right to disagree with you.

You do not have the right to NOT be offended. If that sentence looks odd to you, then read it again and think about it. Just because you don't like something, doesn't mean you have the right to deny other people access to that material. Just because something offends you, be you a Christian or an atheist, a Jew or a Muslim, does not mean you have some moral right to prevent others from sampling the pool of ideas that make humans thinking creatures.

Freedom of speech exists to protect unpopular speech. Some of the world's greatest ideas and mankind's greatest steps forward started out as an unpopular ideas. But freedom of speech applies both ways, speech that comforts you and speech that offends you.

Sometimes Freedom is messy - Get used to it.

Until Next Time...
Messily Yours,

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