Saturday, September 25

Speak Loudly and Carry a Banned Book

It's Banned Book Week.

I wrote earlier this week about the trending Speak Loudly movement that's growing on Twitter and in the blogosphere. Well, whether accidental or intentional, the trend bleeds nicely into Banned Book Week, which starts today. If you're on Twitter, check out #BannedBookWeek and #SpeakLoudly for lists, quotes, author endorsements and some nifty twitterwit. SpeakLoudly also has its own, brand-spankin' new site, which is very cool.

All of this momentum is the joy of a confluence of current banning news (Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson), and the regularly scheduled Banned Book Week festivities. When you're thinking about banned books and why people get to antsy about them, understand this: Very little pisses writers and readers off more than someone thinking that literature shouldn't be available to people.

But then, if you read blogs, I'm preaching to the converted already...

If you check out the ALA's Top 100 Banned Books list there are some surprising and some not so surprising pieces of literature showcased. I find it hilarious that Harry Potter is considered too dangerous for anyone. And Of mice and Men? Really? (And by "really" what I really mean is, "What the fuck?")

So today, because this whole blog-thing started out with quotes, and because I said pretty much all that I wanted to say about banning books in the aforementioned post, and because I'm pressed for time, I thought I'd just provide a nice list of quotes on the evils of censorship. You know, in honor of my roots...

Here are my favorites:

"Libraries should be open to all except the censor." John F. Kennedy

"If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed." Benjamin Franklin, 1730

"All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let's get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States -- and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!" Kurt Vonnegut

"A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to." Laurence Peter, professor of education, 1977

"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail." Alfred Whitney Griswold

"God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide."
Rebecca West

"Every burned book enlightens the world." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all." Oscar Wilde

"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame." Oscar Wilde

"In every cry of every man,/ In every infant's cry of fear,/ In every voice, in every ban,/ The mind-forged manacles I hear." William Blake

And finally, because profanity is trending here in thinkingoutloud-land these days, and because he said it like a motherfucker:

"Take away the right to say 'fuck' and you take away the right to say 'fuck the government.'" Lenny Bruce

Me? I've managed to put enough scratch together to go buy Speak, so I know what I'll be reading tonight.


The response of bookish bloggers everywhere has been truly remarkable. There's even a list of blogs on the subject that continues to grow and grow. Check it out (along with a great post) at Reclusive Bibliophile and take a few minutes to appreciate an amazing video of Laurie Halse Anderson reciting a Speak-inspired poem called Listen.