by Tori Smith, Interlibrary Loan Librarian
Why would anyone want to ban a book? Sometimes fear, sometimes ignorance, sometimes a genuine concern that some issues are not appropriate for children to deal with before a certain age. As a librarian, my knee-jerk reaction is to label all those who challenge free access to literature as small-minded fanatics. But it’s really all a question of degree, and, therefore, a matter worthy of debate.
The book I chose to champion on this blog is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. It has always been one of my favorites — one of those books that stayed with me, both as a youngster and throughout the years. It is a book that I would passionately defend against exclusion from a school or public library. And yet, I must admit, my understanding of the book is very different now than it was when I read it at age 12.
Some of the reasons given for banning Lord of the Flies from libraries include “demoralizing in that it implies that man is little more than an animal,” and “profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.”
The child that I was would have responded to those concerns by wondering about the difference between being an animal and a survivor, and if it is truly defamatory to have bad thoughts about people, even if your conscience persuades you not to act on them. The woman that I am responds by wondering if there is a central, intrinsic morality within man, or whether societal codes merely force the suppression of our baser, but more self-protective, instincts. Or if the absence of the spirit of God within a person will inevitably lead to their creation of a god in order to bear the pain of life.
My point is that any and all of these ideas are worth having, in childhood or middle age. The thoughts, the questions, they are not evil. They are life.