Friday, October 22, 2021

Banned Book Week: Censorship

Nobody likes the notion of censorship. Artists of all kinds knee jerk when we hear the word. Yet we'd all probably agree there are bridges too far. Lies too egregious. Charissa and KAK mulled over the difference between censorship and quashing disinformation. Jeffe considered how we as writers censor ourselves. Alexia looked at how characters censor their worlds

I'm here to challenge you to consider the potential career benefits to being censored. Or, at least, having someone *attempt* to censor your book(s). I'm willing to bet you can rattle off a list of books that have been banned at one time or another. 

* To Kill a Mockingbird
* 1984
* Harry Potter (all of them)
* Animal Farm
* Fahrenheit 451 (our dose of irony)

I'm also willing to bet you've read several of these books and can name the authors for most of them. Why? I attribute it to spite. What happens when someone attempts to ban a book? Usually, it's some well-meaning, if ill-advised parent trying to protect a kid. This parent (or many of them) aren't just okay with opting their child out of reading the book. Instead, they decide no child should read the book and try to erase it from libraries, schools, and stores. 

You know what happens next. Maybe no kid was excited about the school reading list, but now. NOW. You've just told them they *can't* read something. That book flies off the shelves. The media gets involved. The author's name and book title are bandied about on national TV and discussed on major radio shows. And here's the kicker. It doesn't matter whether the conversation is critical or complimentary. It's free marketing. 

Is it possible that a book deserves to be banned? Most of us remember what it was like when Amazon finally went after the people writing pedophile porn. Not many of us would defend those books. I guarantee none of them show up in Banned Book Week. Banned book week is an awareness campaign undertaken by the American Library Association and Amnesty International. Bookstores across the US participate in the event, featuring recently and historically banned books. High schools and colleges across the land hold challenges for reading banned books that week. 

Moral of my rant: Censorship = bad. Until censorship = not so bad when it puts a dent in active, demonstrable harm or criminal activity. But even if the worst happened and your book was banned? You'd very likely be crying all the way to the bank.