Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Banned Books Week
Several of the (mostly agent) blogs that I follow have been hyping up this week, "Banned Books Week", and I think that it is my responsibility to say a thing or two.
Before I do, however, I want to note that I think others will ultimately say it better. As such, I am going to add some links at the end of this post. If you stumble across a particularly riveting article, please add it in comments.
In this, the Information Age, the act of censorship in and of itself is counter-intuitive to every other social movement. I know pre-teen children that are being issued laptop computers (with wireless internet), as part of their curriculum.
The phenomenon of social media encourages the exchange of information. Status updates on facebook, myspace. GPS locators built into smart phone technology. A day spent in the local library is now replaced with five minutes on Google.
Every social movement suggests, "We can share with the world more than anyone should ever want to know." Society has evolved to embrace that, in all aspects, from sports and games and hobbies and entertainment to politics and medicine and ecological issues. You are not alone, even if you sit by yourself in front of a computer. The world is at your fingertips.
Is this dangerous? Yes, it is.
But so is censorship. Moreso, in fact.
Freedom of information, of the exchange of ideas, suggests only one thing - that others may listen. It is conducive to an environment where people with wicked and evil ideas may gather together to wage philosophical, economical and societal terrorism on the unexpectant masses.
Then again, in the same stroke, lies the ability for people who have survived or suffered, who face very personal grief, terror and tragedy in their lives, who feel so very alone to reach out and find others - and to learn, indeed, that they are not alone.
Somewhere in the middle, within our nature as a social animal, technology has furthered what has been the case since before the recorded history of man - that we seek approval and acceptance, the birth of cities rose from communities of commonality, and in the 21st century we are linked to each other in ways that were only previously imagined.
In books. In stories. Written recordings of what was originally oral history, passed from parent to child, philosopher to student, king to warrior to farmer. Variations on those themes and ideas, as science and evolution and history all teaches us more of ourselves and more of our past and broadens new ideas towards our collective future.
Censorship cannot be allowed. It is a tyrant's tool, an ancient failure brought forward, when ideas were so powerful that they could create revolutions in thoughts and beliefs. It is an act of fear.
Some many others will write about freedom, about amendments. Those are valid reasons, but they are not mine. I will present to you a universal truth, that does not require legislation.
Friend or foe, if I take the time to teach you my beliefs, I assume you have the ability to understand it. Sheep or lion, it makes no matter who or what you are. Society now does this on the grand scale, we covet information, we respond as a society to knowledge and wisdom.
We live the life that the ancient sages could have only dreamed, but with this one fatal flaw.
Censorship suggests an illogical belief, that you, the reader do not know how to think. Censorship is someone taking your hand and saying, "You may think this, this or this - but not that, oh no. Let me take that from you."
Censorship is putting a cover on an electrical outlet, because you are a child who does not know to not stick your finger in there.
I do not believe in this.
I believe that too much time and effort is spent in telling people what to think. All this information, the task itself is impossible.
It is now time, friends, to tell people HOW to think. To let them decide for themselves. To not treat people as children or horses, blinding their eyes from the frightening realities of the world they live in.
Teach people that all stories have value, all opinions have value, and the wise can turn a critical eye without blinders and decide for themselves what is right - based upon their beliefs.
Do you gain more satisfaction from being followed blindly, by those cowered in fear and ignorance - or would it be better to know that those who follow your beliefs know exactly what's out there, and have made a critical decision made with full knowledge of their options?
I choose the latter. Censorship chooses the former. I will take an educated and wide-eyed decision. I will choose the critical thinker over the fearful faithful.
For the love of humanity, use this opportunity to teach people HOW to think, to make their own decisions and stop deluding yourself into thinking that in this Age of Information, that you can hide ANYTHING from the masses. You can't. You're foolish to try, and you insult everyone in the process.
In the Age of Information, can we spend no effort in teaching people HOW to think critically? How is it so politically correct to cherish the individual, to treat everyone as equal with one hand, but then take away their ability to make their own critical choices with another?
Faith remains after beliefs are manifested. But you must give people the tools by which to construct beliefs that are true to the world they live in.
People are NOT too stupid to make their own choices. Censorship suggests they are, and for that reason alone, it shames me to know it still takes place.
~ Bill, Coyote.
American Library Association
Tahereh will review her favorite banned book, Sep 30.
Agent Janet Reid (aka Query Shark).
Agent Suzie Townsend and a couple of banned book reviews here.
Banned Book Review Week Excitement, ala The Rejectionist.