Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Book Week

Image from American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

So, it’s been a bit of a crazy week over here. I had a whole post written up about censorship and language (for Banned Book Week) and had planned on posting it today, but I think I may save it for a week where I don’t feel quite so pulled in different directions.

But, since it is Banned Book Week, and because I wanted to do something to mark the occasion, I thought I’d briefly share some things I’m thinking about this week.

Banned Book Week is almost as controversial as the banned books themselves. I see it as a celebration of the freedom to read and express oneself but also—perhaps more importantly—an opportunity to talk about censorship and responsibility.

There are two sides of that freedom of expression: a person should not be suppressed from what they want to say but a person should also have the understanding to use their words responsibility, with the full awareness of their meaning and power.

One of my English teachers in high school used to say often that the freedom Americans enjoy (she herself is Irish) does not actually guarantee total freedom. Total freedom would be chaos, and instead there needs to be a balance, a responsibility that we understand what our freedom does (and does not) grant us.

I think it’s the same with words. Freedom of expression is a burden, as well. It asks us to think carefully about what we want to say before we say it, not because otherwise we might be suppressed but because words have power and that power should be wielded with understanding and maturity.


  1. If you're speaking on a personal level, I agree that our parents should raise us all to consider how what we say affects others. On a legal level, however, I am thrilled to live in a country where total idiots can say what they want with very few restrictions.

    1. It does definitely make things more interesting...

    2. Ha! But that's not why it thrills me. The real point is that we can't be free unless the total idiots are, too.