To Whom It May Concern,
Recently (and I mean as of a month or so ago in 2019), the Harry Potter books were banned yet again from a school library, this time in Nashville, Tennessee. Rev. Dan Reehil urged St. Edward Catholic School to remove Harry Potter from their school's classrooms, accusing the spells in the books to be "actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits." The books were removed after gaining more critics regarding it's use of wtichcraft and portrayal of magic as good AND bad, and the incident gained national attention.
The reasons behind censorship of this kind may seem ridiculous or completely understandable to you, depending on your beliefs, but the fact that the banning was successful should be scary for everyone.
We live in a nation founded on free speech, founded on the idea that the powers that be do not control the words we hear, the information we are privy to, and the ideals we choose to promote. To be raised in America is to be raised with the idea that your words matter, and no one can take away your right to say them. Supposedly. Yet for many children in this country, ideas of censorship and attacks against free speech are almost common occurrences.
Parents, pastors, politicians, and the like target books contrary to their personal ideals, and urge or enforce their removal from public libraries and school classrooms. They have the audacity to assert that their personal belief towards one book or the other ought to dictate the reading choices for many children or people in a community. Often these beliefs are nothing more than outrageous accusations based on widespread rumors and general thoughts by those who haven't even read the texts they insist on censoring.
Take one of the most famous and often banned book authors of the past century, Judy Blume. Her books, including "Blubber," "Deenie," and "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" (to name a few) have been banned on accusations of being "unsuited to any age group" simply based on foul language and their realistic depictions of puberty, teen sexuality, and some offensive language. Basically, they were too realistic. And yet you have the Harry Potter series, one of the most banned books of all time, banned for elements of fantasy and witchcraft (basically, the complete opposite idea). Even textbooks are not off limits, if parents don't agree with the information present. (Fun Fact: one community's banning of certain textbooks led to riots so bad that a car was set on fire and students were pulled out of school for days on end, simply out of fear for their safety) And even then, more often than not, the media and discussion surrounding these now banned books only made them grow more popular to the groups from which they are being censored.
This is not just ridiculous and completely futile, it is also dangerous. By giving critics a platform and even successes towards banning books, our society is saying it's okay to censor our students and our citizens from information without their consent. It is saying that the opinions of a few dictate the reality of the many. In a nation that's founded on democracy and "power to the people," this is obviously directly out of-of-line with our core values. But it just keeps happening.
Now some people may say that I'm taking this too far. That restricting "Blubber" from schools isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. But I disagree. Allowing even just one community, in just one area of the country, engage in an act of censorship simply because a few people disagree with certain material is to allow the entire country to follow suit. It is to allow parents and lawmakers and leaders to exercise a reversal of our First Amendment freedom, no matter how tame or unimportant it may seem. It is to allow a culture of control and distrust and even fear to undermine American communities and creativity.
Banning books is futile and dangerous, and allowing it to continue would be a deviation from our core values as a society and cause further harm to our children and our citizens.
A concerned kid