The Beacon

Taboo literature and why it’s essential to read banned books

Zarqua Ansari, Staff Writer

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Sometimes, the world is a bad place. People cope with hardships in different ways. Some work on self improvement. Others make art. Many people write and read books.

Books are a great escape because they have a dual nature. The reader and the writer are provided with a coping mechanism. That being said, many books cover ernest topics as means of education and awareness.

Take for example Laurie Halse Anderson’s 1999 book Speak. It’s a story about a girl in freshman year of high school that gets raped at a party over the summer and called the cops. She ended up losing all her friends along with her ability to speak about anything she felt passionate about.

This book is a great example of one that helps both author and reader. Anderson was provided with a coping mechanism for her own sexual assault.

Her book provides solace to others who may have suffered the same. In fact, 20 years after the release of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson released an autobiography called Shout.

Why then, if books are so good at providing help with sobering topics that people don’t discuss normally, are books banned?

According to Butler University, books are banned on the premises of sexual activity, negative language, political bias, religious mention, witchcraft, blasphemy, racism etc.

Quite frankly, it sounds ridiculous. If we banned any other media off of these standards, media wouldn’t exist. Explicit content in books isn’t any more or less graphic than those watched in theaters or in the comfort of our homes.

The reality is that these things exist in real life. Blocking others from learning about them, simply deprives awareness. Historically, the objective of banning books was to prevent ideas from spreading.

Books are the subtle way of righting some wrongs. People are uncomfortable when talking about weighted topics, and as a result they sit in denial of reality.

For example Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. This book is one of the most famously banned books. The book is challenged for offensive language, racism, and being unsuited to the age group schools tend to offer it to.

While, yes, these things are true of the book, it is also true that events like those have actually happened. It talks about a topic people like to politely pretend never happened because they know it was wrong. However, the book is a classic and should not be brushed under the rug. People deserve to know how African Americans were mistreated in history.

Everyone’s favorite sad childhood book, Bridge to Terabithia has been banned for language, violence and Satanism. The ban completely derails the true message.

The story deals with issues of death, grief and friendship in a way that isn’t patronizing. Reality is that people die. People, especially children, may need to know how to cope with that in a healthy way.

The list of banned books goes on. My personal favorite book that is banned is a book about banning books; Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Also, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was banned for racism and being depressing.

Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, has almost all of his books banned for promoting disobedience, satanic references and mention of domestic abuse. Yet, all of these topics are things people are faced in their day to day lives. So why then are books banned?

Books are banned on for a series of ridiculous reasons. Most of these topics simply make people uncomfortable. If learning about banned books has either frustrated you or inspired you, I’ve done my job well. Books shouldn’t be banned.

Go out, pick up a banned book and educate yourself. After all, if there wasn’t something worth hiding, the book wouldn’t be banned.

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Taboo literature and why it’s essential to read banned books