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EDITORIAL/Banned Books Week: Take a stand when the written word is challenged

September 17, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

Ever since man developed the ability to put words on paper, there have been those who seek to ban certain ideas from the printed page.

That's because the written word has power. It can change lives, change countries, change history.

For some that translates to freedom, to inspiration. For others it creates fear -- fear of upsetting the status quo, fear of challenging longstanding and cherished beliefs.

We see books banned and burned in other countries -- totalitarian regimes, for example -- and we quick to condemn. We see ourselves as people who cherish free speech and the free exchange of ideas.

But the fact is that books are regularly challenged and banned in this country and have been for centuries.

In some cases the folks objecting to certain books are decent people. They think they are doing good, even doing God's will.

But in the end they defeat themselves.

Libraries, schools and bookstores across the country have felt pressure from government agencies, parents, civic and religious groups and other concerned citizens to remove books from their shelves. They are feeling pressure right now across the state of Texas.

Sometimes they cave. Sometimes they fight. Sometimes they are helped by Americans more concerned about freedom than the perceived dangers a work presents.

These battles were more common in the last century. But they still happen today.

The most common reasons books are challenged in the U.S. are because they contain sexual content or strong language. Other reasons include negative racial and ethnic portrayals, unpopular political positions, views that questions religious convictions. and violent content. Hundreds and hundreds of books have been challenged and removed from libraries, schools and bookstores over the years.

This is Banned Books Week, an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read. It begins today and continue through Saturday. Organizers encourage Americans to fight censorship and celebrate the written word.

It's important to take a stand when books are challenged. That's ensures the folks who would ban books can never win in the longterm.

That's because books live forever. Book banners definitely do not. All of the works that have been challenged over the years are still with us. And, with vigilance, they always will be.

Everyone is free to decide what to read and what not to read. What books are allowed in their own homes. That's fine.

But no one should be able to tell another what they can or cannot read.

Print Headline: EDITORIAL/Banned Books Week: Take a stand when the written word is challenged

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