Banned Books

Apparently it’s Banned Books Week. This is the week where everyone gets together and pretends that because someone somewhere once banned a book, that makes it literature and worth reading. Sure, sure, there are some books that have been banned that are well-worth reading. No denying that. But the seeming assumption that I see everywhere is that because someone banned it, we must read it. That’s stupid. I think banning books is probably more counter-productive than not, but a little censorship now and then is cherished by the wisest men.

But Toni Morrison’s books don’t suddenly become worth reading because they were banned somewhere. Maybe they aren’t particularly dangerous, but they aren’t particularly good either. In fact, they’re bad. (Okay, I haven’t read them all, but Song of Solomon was just plain awful.)

There is a world of difference too, between a private school banning a particular book and the government banning a different book. If a Catholic school thinks that The Last Temptation of Christ doesn’t belong in their library because it’s blasphemous, that’s worlds away from the government banning a political book because it criticises current policy decisions. (Not that the latter happens.)

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