We're coming up on the end of Banned Books Week here in the USA. I know, you're growling, "North Horse, what the hell does that have to do with anything I care about?"Well, you're reading this aren't you? I've said some pretty nasty things and controversial things-- like yelling at UW River Falls, targeting Watertown Humane Society, and shitting all over people I consider dumb neglectful assholes. Chances are, you also read Fugly, Snarkyrider, Tacky Tack of the Day, Bad_Riding and/or Shame in the Horse Show Ring.
None of us could continue writing so much as the word "asshat" if censorship got a grip on us. What's that, you don't think censorship is a real threat? Think again:
"Harry Potter" Stephen King and "Lord of the Rings" books, among others, were burned at New Mexico's Christ Community Church starting in 2001 because they contained "witchcraft." They do a book burning every year on Halloween, "Satan's Birthday." Thousands attend.
Tons of books have been banned by entire countries, including the U.S. For example, "Animal Farm" has been banned at different points in both the U.S. and Russia for being Communist and anti-Communist.
"The Hunger Games," "The Call of the Wild," "Water for Elephants," The Qur'an (Koran), "To Kill a Mockingbird" and many more your favorite books have been challenged or banned across the USA.
More locally: In 2009, in West Bend WI (35 miles north of Milwaukee), there was a huge fight about whether to have any sexual content in the teen section of the public library-- especially any books that talked about people being gay. Library board members lost their positions, librarians were threatened and screamed at, one Milwaukee-based group called for a book-burning, and the anti-gay group even had a float in the city's Fourth of July parade.
This kind of thing happens all the time, in schools and libraries all across America and Wisconsin, in places like Belleville, Fond du Lac, Waukesha, and even my own home town's library, where "The Life of Pi" was challenged not too long ago. You just don't know about it, because it happens so quietly. You may have heard about SOPA, the internet censorship law that struck down earlier, but the less publicized ACTA passed and CISPA will probably soon allow the government to monitor/censor all your internet stuff to "protect you from terrorists."
Am I a terrorist? I do try to put the fear of God into assholes. I do "resist the government" when I yell about how Animal Control officers and other government bodies don't do enough to prosecute animal abusers. I have said more than once that, while I don't promote breaking the law, I would do so in certain situations in order to protect an animal. Should I be censored, so that teens or young adults aren't accidentally exposed to my writing? I do swear, and promote what could be considered a "hateful" ideology. I could be censored, and so could your favorite books, movies and websites. It doesn't take much to portray something as "bad."
So please, pay attention.
- Inform your local library and school boards that you, and others, believe in the freedom to read. Tell them that you will decide what is best for you and your children to be exposed to, not someone else. Encourage them to stock up on "controversial" classics.
- Ask your local newspaper to cover book challenges in the area.
- Pay attention to library, school and local newsletters to find out about book challenges, so that you can support institutions that want to give people free access to literature.
- Speak out against legislation that endangers your right to view or read whatever you want.