For the longest time ever, published materials have been used by humans for a variety of purposes. History will reveal the literature has been carved out of the desire to preserve past events and to maintain track of such occurrences. As we change, literature has also embraced diverse sectors of our lives. It is also true that since time immemorial we have used books to fulfill our intellectual needs. In view of the above, the schools now include the reading of various novels as part of the curriculum. Often, books are not only read by those in schools, but also by the entire population. We choose to welcome books because of the immense importance and influence they have on our lives. As such, it can be said that books are important and that is why people are encouraged to read more books than they did the previous year.
Given the above explanation, it can be understood that books are an essential part of our society. However, it is also important to acknowledge that over the years, individuals, groups, and even the government have banned books that they consider to be dangerous. There are different reasons as to why a book may be considered dangerous for its target audience but some of the main include political and social controversies, a need for censorship given the contents of the book and for the majority of the population, protecting children. A book may be considered dangerous when it fails to meet specific ethical, moral and political status as set by the society but the ban on these books should not be exercised. The banning of ‘dangerous’ book potentially denies the vast majority of the population or the target market some things that they are entitled to. This paper further discusses some of the reasons as to why banning books should not be encouraged.
One of the main reasons for not banning books that are considered dangerous is because they are still educative in some ways. Young explains that what one considers to be dangerous may not necessarily be from another’s point of view and that is why some of these books that have been banned end up being best sellers. When we take into account the educative point of view of these books, it is almost certain that they are simply portraying some truth about our world. For a book to be considered dangerous, it means that it is bringing to light some controversial issue that the individual, group or government does not wish to shade light on. The question that remains to be answered is until when will such books that seek to educate the population on the true environment we live in be banned.
These kinds of books, regardless of how graphic or not they are, are written with the intent of sharing worldviews so that there is a greater and deeper understanding of the situation they are looking into. For instance, there are specific books that touch on different historical happenings that have been banned either for school or public use. Wynne-Davis explains that this should not be the case because, with the accounts that the book has to offer, another perspective of the historical happening is brought to the world’s attention and perhaps allowing for more understanding. “…unpublishable in the aftermath of the Second World War is no longer to be banned because it is now considered useful to our understanding of a moment in history that, it is argued, informs our own fight against repressive regimes,” Wynne-Davis writes in regards the book, Mein Kampf. For years, this book as written by Hitler was banned but now that it has been allowed for publication, it gives an opportunity for further understanding the Holocaust. Therefore, the argument applies to that banning book that are considered dangerous is simply denying people a chance to be educated.
Freedom of expression is another reason as to why books should not be banned. It is understandable that we all have different cultural and religious beliefs and thus we tend to differ in our values. Having said this, it is also true that everyone has the constitutional right to freely express themselves without forcing others to follow in their beliefs. Over the years, authors have relied on their freedom of expression to write and publish books that they think is befitting with those who share the same beliefs. Therefore, the problem becomes when a book is declared dangerous and should be banned because of its content.
Parents argue that they have a right to protect what their children are exposed to and this is very true. But at the same time, shielding a child from reading a book that has been written with the understanding of the consequences it might have on that child is unfair to both the writer and the child. Parents have to let their children explore books as a means of getting them to grow rather than protect them from things they will eventually learn. On the other hand, Metaxas explains that authors have the right to express themselves so long as they do not declare it mandatory for their target population to follow in their views. This can be seen as a means of helping children to develop their own personalities and values with the guidance of their parents. “But when you begin restricting your child’s experience to your own limited field of knowledge, you’re narrowing your child. You’re doing much more harm than good” (Bussel).
In addition to the above, there is also the element of religion. The Bible makes number five on the world’s list of banned books simply because of its content (Metaxas). Christianity is one of the largest religions practiced worldwide and to ban the Bible can be considered as imposing on Christian views and beliefs. Everyone, irrespective of the religion they practice has the freedom to talk about, discuss and write on them. Therefore, those who enforce a ban on the Bible are simply denying Christians and their right to share their understanding of this Holy book.
Another reason why the ban on ‘dangerous’ books is uncalled for is because it is somehow infringing on our creativity. As a population, we have remarkably been able to advance our civilization because of our creativity. Today, we can do things that were never once imaginable but because someone somewhere was creative enough, the outcome is a reality we all enjoy. The same can be said about books. The sheer innovative way of thinking that authors for both fictional and non-fictional books put in their writing somehow end up shaping the environment we live in. Hallman explains that books have the power to change the world, both in a positive and negative way; but very few things have such power.
Therefore, when books are banned, there is the public view of this aspect of thinking should be curbed and yet, it is this creative nature that allows individuals to unlock hidden opportunities that they never knew they had. A great example is how the entertainment industry has grown to implement story that was only creative thinking into movies thus creating employment opportunities. Also, it can be argued that structural things such as ships, cars, buildings, fashion items amongst other things have been inspired based on a simply written book of creative thinking. When books are banned, such opportunities for creativity are shuttered thus denying the entire world the opportunity to experience something amazing.
Our culture is deeply embedded into books that we cannot deny how much we truly need them. This means that when books are banned with the notion that they are dangerous our culture gets to suffer. Metaxas explains that human beings have always used books to explore various aspects of life thus growing our different cultures. It is through books that we understand the cultural differences that we have and in some way, become more accommodative to other. Books unlock the mentality that we have as reading expands our minds beyond our own understandings. This is the best way for the general human culture to be cultivated. We are nothing without our culture and that is why we need to constantly embrace the traditional aspects that have ensured its growth and this includes books.
In conclusion, banning ‘dangerous’ books has never been the solution to the problem. There is no denying that there are books that are truly dangerous but for them to go through the process of publication, someone must have approved them. This means they have potential because they will serve a particular population. Books of any kind are designed to be educative, challenging and encouraging for the reader to make some change in their lives. Every book that we read, we learn something out of it thus the educative value of the book. Some of the information may not be applicable in real life situation but in some way, they allow the reader to exercise inner change.
It is the ethical thing to do to be concerned about the well-being of the population. For an individual, group or the government to consider a book dangerous, there must be a logical reason behind it. Such should be respected but there is also the point of view that not everyone shares the same reasoning. For this reason, it is advisable to give a warning to the public that the book is potentially dangerous for a number of reasons without entirely banning it. It should be the choice of an individual to read or not to for books that are controversial. However, banning a book entirely does not give people the right to exercise their freedom At the same time this discourages individuals from being creative or reading which as pointed out above is very important. Books will always be a part of our lives and when they are written, they serve a particular purpose. Those concerned should take into account the possibility of letting people explore what these books have to offer and as a result, letting them make their own decisions rather than deciding for them.
Bussel, Rachel. “Banning “Bad” Books Is Not the Answer,” Huffington Post, 17 Nov 2011. 4 Apr 2017 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-kramer-bussel/banning-bad-books-is-not-_b_54205.html
Hallman, Katelyn. “Why We Should Never Ban Books,” Odyssey, 11 Aug 2011. 4 Apr 2017 https://www.theodysseyonline.com/never-ban-books
Metaxas, Eric. “Banning the Most Dangerous Book in the World,” cnsnews, 26 April 2016. 4 Apr 2017 http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/eric-metaxas/banning-most-dangerous-book-world
Wynne-Davis, Marion. “To ban or not to ban? Why we shouldn’t be hasty about book censorship,” Times Higher Education, 5 Jan 2016. 4 Apr 2017 https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/ban-or-not-ban-why-we-shouldnt-be-hasty-about-book-censorship#survey-answer
Young, Courtney. “Freedom to Read Under Fire as Attempts to Ban Books Continue”, Huffington Post, 2013. 4 Apr 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/courtney-l-young/freedom-to-read-under-fir_b_3971779.html