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July 22nd, 2009

West Bend and burning books

As a writer, I suppose I'm a little sensitive on the whole literary censorship issue. It pushes buttons I would rather stay unpushed. But alas that doesn't seem to be the case.

CNN is finally* covering the situation in West Bend, Wisconsin, and certain people's call to burn books they disagree with. Stop for a second there, and read that again. "Burn books they disagree with" should be the key phrase that jumps out there. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I have a novel approach in mind in remedy to your children being exposed to books or subject matter you don't want them reading. It's something that should be familiar, as it's what parents should be doing with their children's television intake, unless you're of the "TV as babysitter" mindset. It should even be familiar from menu selection and knowing what is and isn't good for your child. Here it is: go with your children to the library and decide with them what books they can and cannot read.

Now obviously my kids aren't exactly big readers, though the grey one is fond of sitting close enough to a computer monitor to burn anyone's eyes out. I can't cast any stones in that regards. But I do know that, for instance, certain foods would be things I didn't want them to have. I don't try to make the grocery store stop carrying them. Instead, I just don't give them to the kids. In other words, my kids' weird digestive systems should not dictate what other people's kids have access to.

I won't even comment on "sue happy" people. I'm just going to give you a simple opinion: censorship is wrong, especially for places like public libraries. I leave you now with a quote to consider, from Heinrich Heine:
“Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.”

* I say "finally" here because I read about this on the ALA website over the last month. I even saw it on UK's The Guardian newspaper and author Neil Gaiman's personal blog a month and a half ago. CNN's running a little late on this one.