gallery Friendship Friday – Banned books … Australia still the lucky country

This weeks “Friendship Friday” post by Create With Joy, to which I am now participating in (I love these themes on blog sites) is in regards to Banned Books. This week, in the USA, is Banned Books Week. But I am Australian. This concept is foreign in a way. I had to google. The list of banned or challenged books in the USA contains most of the books I and my children, have studied in school English. Many I have read. How sad to see that a country challenges and bans books. Denying freedom of speech. Interesting from a foreign perspective given the importance of freedom of speech touted. Particularly for a country who still allows citizens to tote guns wherever they choose.

Australia has incredible freedom of speech. Since the early 1970’s books are rarely banned, if any.  A selection of Banned Books in Australia is provided by the University of Melbourne. In 2005, an extensive selection of books banned in Australia between the 1920’s and 1980’s was uncovered below the National Archives. What amazes however is that toting guns is illegal in Australia. What a dichotomy between two first-world countries. As an Australian I cannot help but wonder why a country bans books but allows guns. I cannot forget that the Third Reich were famous for their book burnings. That areas in Europe burned books in the medieval ages. So much history lost. Purely at the whim of the few who have a distorted view of what is right and wrong.

So this weeks question from Create With Joy

  • How do you feel about books being challenged and
  • Banned from libraries and schools?
  • Have you read any banned books?

I believe in freedom of speech. I do not believe however that books written specifically to incite should be readily available. The latter of course is perhaps a matter of perspective as to what may be considered inciteful. I can however say that I agree with Australia’s limited censorship. It makes for an open society allowing the individual to consider various perspectives.

Everyone has a right to express their views. We all have a right to accept or reject another’s views.
Teaching our children discernment, strong values and morals, is what is important. Raising them in an arena of openness encourages open discussion, acceptance and tolerance. Fostering an attitude of judgement and banned leads to such a narrowed view as to be harmful to society.

I recalled high school that there was a local movement trying to ban certain books from school reading. We debated this at home and school. It seemed ridiculous given we had read many of the books. Specifically ‘A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich’. We had to read this out loud in class. It contained expletives, hence the request for banning. But as teenagers we knew that to say “oh golly its cold today” in subzero Siberia was a joke. Expletives were appropriate. Thankfully the movement to ban books did not win.

Wow …the list of classics I have read …

  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  • The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  • Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  • A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  • All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
  • A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
  • Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
  • Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  • Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
  • James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
  • Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene

In recent times the following have been challenged:

  • Twilight series, The Hunger Games series, Harry Potter series, Captain Underpants series, Goosebump series

So … anything with offensive language, homosexuality, sexuality (including sex education), differing religious viewpoints …. obviously it seems that people do not swear, have sex or worship a different god… how sad that this continues in today’s society. Yet we know it still does when we see fundamentalist religious groups exerting their views over their community…

7 comments

  1. Amazing how many of those books I have read through the years, only a couple were banned in my school library but were available in the public library..

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