OPINION: Banning Books — Who Is Qualified?

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Concerning a book being “banned” from libraries and bookstores, I think about something that is outlandishly out of order, so wrong that the “wrong” can’t be denied.

I recall the predicament of British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie and his novel “The Satanic Verses,” back in the late ’80s to early ’90s.

Apparently, Muslims from around the world took great offense to what Rushdie wrote in “The Satanic Verses,” to the extent that the Supreme Leader of Iran, one Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a death threat against Rushdie, forcing him into hiding.

Since I never have read “The Satanic Verses,” I can’t comment on its contents, one way or the other. However, here’s something similar that I can offer a comment on.

In a recent issue of AARP magazine, there was an interesting piece that said: “Over the years, communities around the country have banned many classic works of literature. As part of the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week (Sept. 25-Oct. 2), libraries and bookstores are urging these same communities to stand up against censorship.”

The article went on to give “a list of 50 books that have been banned at one time or another somewhere in the U.S.”

I’ll touch on a few with which I am familiar:

Too Political

• “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Granted, this mainstay of American literature always has managed to generate controversy. However, what surprised me most, here, was that it wasn’t banned for being Socially Offensive (another category), given that it contains language that some construe as being racially offensive.

 • “Animal Farm,” by George Orwell

One of my all-time favorite books. A humorous, political allegory about animals attempting to overthrow humans. Who can ever forget “Napoleon,” the brainy pig who leads the coup against the humans? Not only is the banishment of this book borderline ludicrous, in my view, it should be compulsory reading for all high school students.

Too Much Sex

• “Jaws,” by Peter Benchley

The one that grabbed my attention is this category was Jaws, by Peter Benchley. Sure, there are images of bikini-clad babes smooching with swaggering dudes, but, overall, pretty tame stuff. I mean, Madonna’s book “Sex” didn’t make this list.


• Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

Along with Rowling’s Harry Potter series being one of the most successful in the history of fiction writing, it, also, has spawned a whole new genre of interest. To ban it could adversely affect the mental and emotional well being of the world’s adolescent population.

Socially Offensive

• “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin,” by Benjamin Franklin

A “Founding Father” of the United States; publisher of “Poor Richard’s Alamanac” and the Pennsylvania Gazette; governor of Pennsylvania; inventor extraordinaire, etc. I didn’t see shock-jock Howard Stern’s autobiography “Private Parts” on this list. Give me a break!

• “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain

Though it remains one of the great works of American literature – at least, in the opinion of many scholars – it, too, has come under fire for allegedly being racially offensive.

While it is prudent to guard against material that, obviously, is “inappropriate,” it, also, is intellectually inappropriate to sweep historical reality under the rug. In my opinion, books such as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” are realistic takes on life in America during the relevant time frames.

If “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is “socially offensive,” what about the “Autobiography of Malcom X,” by noted author Alex Haley?

Don’t want to touch that, do you?

Concerning that AARP article that listed the “50 books that have been banned at one time or another,” I found it, for the most part, to be a hodge-podge of thin-skinned, political-social-correct-literary ineptness. (And I tend to enjoy AARP.)

Regarding certain books being banned from libraries and bookstores, maybe, someone should lobby to “ban” those who do the banning.

My opinion, that’s all.

Mike Vinson can be contacted at mike_vinson56@yahoo.com.
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September 19, 2010 at 1:43pm
Now much being banned now but the trend seems to be rewriting textbooks to reglect the skewed beliefs of the school board members--Texas is a good example---as bad or even worse than banning--twisting the minds of our young people to further their belifs.
September 19, 2010 at 9:22pm
I am 50 years old and remember reading and discussing the communist implications of Animal Farm in high school or maybe it was jr. high. Too many years ago to remember. I understand kids can be impressionable but I think parents need to control their children and not leave it to school boards or loud fanatics to determine what children read. If it was something with malicious subliminal messages that would be different. I don't like hidden agendas in books aimed at children but if it is just obvious fantasy or views then that becomes freedom of choice.
September 20, 2010 at 9:30am
On this subject, dailyreader and I can agree.

The text books in schools are being rewritten and skewed. Not just to support the views of school boards, but to corrupt the American ideals of Christianity, morals and the belief in entitlements to everything.

Anyone who has ever read Twain's Huckleberry Finn knows that the book was written for adults and not children. Twain said so himself. When you place yourself in the time period it was written, the design behind the book was to show the internal struggle Huck goes through while trying to free a run-a-way slave. By the end of the book Huck comes to terms with the difference between what is morally "right" and what he has been led to believe by the society he was raised in.

Today's books teach our children that the world is millions of years old, that God has no place in our lives or society. They teach our children that we evolved from nothing into a species that walked on four legs and then two.

They teach our children that no one is really responsible for their own actions. Everything they do wrong must be the result of a bad childhood, their parent fault, society's fault or they were just simply born that way.

The Bible has been taken out of our schools and most homes and the result has been a moral decay that is evident in almost every facet of our American society.

No one stops to wonder why the burning of the Koran causes such an uproar across the globe when mentioned. It causes the uproar because the Muslim people teach their children that the Koran is a holy book. They teach their children to plant the words of the Koran into their minds and hearts and to live them each and every day.

In America, we teach our children that the Bible has no place in our lives. Our children are either taught there is no God or even if there was a God we cannot talk about him in a public place because we might offend someone.

We will fight to the ends of the earth for someone's right to build a Mosque, and then turn around and sue someone who wants to hang the Ten Commandments up in a courthouse.

Talk about a backwards society.

September 20, 2010 at 3:19pm
Indeed something has gone wrong in this country. Once the most powerful country on earth, we are no longer feared by the mainiacs of the world. Burning the Koran (quran) brought so much pain to the Muslims they burned our flag ( so what else is new). I agree with Doolittle77.
What difference does it make what book we burn in the United States? It is our country/ The Koran advocates killing we infedels in every second verse of the Koran, (written by a man). The Ayatolla can condem someone living in england because he wrote against a certain sect of society. evidently it is their way or the highway; no one else can do anything about what they believe in. If we Christians live by our bible we should be doing good. If the Muslims live by the Koran than everyone is commanded to kill all non-believers (us).
doolittle said something about politically incorrect, I have a friend that has a saying about that and I will paraphrase it. Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
We need to be telling the government how we want to live not the opposite.
September 20, 2010 at 6:52pm
"Today's books teach our children that the world is millions of years old"

Hopefully those books indicate the earth is billions of years old and surely we do not have locals that believe that we walked around with the dinosaurs only 6,000 years ago?

"The Bible has been taken out of our schools and most homes and the result has been a moral decay"

If the Bible has been taken out of homes, it was the residents of that home that did so and moral decay has nothing to do with Bibles not in schools--a place where they do not belong.

If one is looking for the government as the enforcing and sustainer of one's religious beliefs then they are in a shaky relationship with GOD to begin with.

"We need to be telling the government how we want to live not the opposite"

We did when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and later along with the generations that followed. added the Amendments.
Let's up hope that we do not have those who advocate rewriting the 14th or even the 1st just to further their own warped beiefs in how they think Americans want to live.

September 21, 2010 at 7:35am
dailyreader it does not surprise me that you have all of those ideals and beliefs. It is more and more evident in your responses how morally alike you are alligned with the rest of the world.

I can see you have absolutely no idea concerning the thoughts, the ideas and the beliefs behind the Founding Fathers concerning religion.

Religion, the belief in Jesus Christ, the Bible all played a crucial role in the writing of the Declaration Of Independence and the Constitution. It could not be any more evident by the very words, language and references they used in every single document and letter they ever wrote. They all believed in God, the all believed in Jesus Christ and they all believed He should be the foundation America was built upon.

And, I see you are like all of the other brainwashed robots of the world who believe that nothing existed and then suddenly a big bang happened and here we are.

Believeing the world is millions of years old despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary is ludicrous. The mere understanding of the population rates alone is enough to know the world could not possibly be millions of years old.

And the taking of Bibles out of school was the beginning of the moral decay of this country. There was a time when it was required reading. Most people 150 years ago had two books. The Bible and Pilgrim's Progress.

I don't advocate the government telling me what religion to believe and I don't advocate schools teaching specific doctrine. However, I do advocate teaching Christian values, morals and ideals.

And I am unclear on why you reference the 14th ammendment considering it has nothing to do with religion. It is the ammendment immediately following the Civil War that made anyone born or naturalized in the United States a citizen.

You keep on believing that existing to please your own thoughts and wants will be what gives you reward.

Me personally, I will just keep the faith and KNOW that my reward comes from God and not the world.

September 21, 2010 at 8:45am
"They all believed in God, the all believed in Jesus Christ"
Thomas Jefferson complied his own bible, selecting the teachings of Jesus, deliberately leaving out all miracles. Why--number one he firmly believed that Jesus was not the son of God--refused to accept the Divinity of Jesus, number two, felt Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contrived the miracles to enhance Jesus's stature and Paul was the arch enemy of all with his prolonged assertions and fables.
Washington was a Stoic at best, never took the Lord's Supper, leaving the building before being offered to those staying, which included his wife. Most of the others--Adams, Franklin and Hamilton were more Deists than mainstream Christians.
The Constitution was fashioned after beliefs that existed long before the Bible was written. Beliefs these men had read and poured over through many other books than the Bible.
The greatest effort was made to exclude, yes exclude, a reliance on Christian preeminance to be forced upon free Americans.
September 21, 2010 at 10:32am
I don't want any school teacher talking or teaching religion in school as they are not qualified and furthermore teachers have no right to influence their beliefs on religion or politics. FIRM!!!!!
September 21, 2010 at 1:16pm
It appears to me everybody is trying to help God out when if you really look at the picture I wonder?????
September 21, 2010 at 1:17pm
The question is with all this mess going on who is really representing who?????
September 21, 2010 at 4:03pm
Wow dailyreader I didn't realize you were so old that you knew Washington and Jefferson. I guess since you were there and know all of these things to be true I will have to accept your eyewitness account of Jeffereson's different Bible and Washington's leaving before the Lord's Supper was taken.

I guess all of my information about them was wrong. I was just going by Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Adam's own words and not those of some obscure writer I researched on the internet.

Let me give you a few examples of their own words. Written by them and spoken by them on the subject of religion, God and the Bible. Due to lack of space I won't be able to give them all to you, but here are a few.

John Adams: “There is no such thing as human wisdom; all is the providence of God”

Jefferson: I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

Jefferson: I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.

Jefferson: The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

Washington: It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.

Washington: Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.

Franklin: Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

Franklin:The way to see by Faith is to shut the eye of Reason.

Franklin: God helps them that helps themselves

You may believe all of these men may have been "Deists", but I find it extremely unbelieveable that men who knew, studied and quoted the Bible and God didn't believe in God. It is evident in the very language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I am not sure what version you are reading, but the very first paragraphs of both documents are all about God, religion, faith, God given rights, etc. etc. etc.

I know it is impossible to argue or make a point with people like you dailyreader, simply because you are the problem in itself.

I back my arguments up with the words and deeds of the very people who wrote them, spoke them and carried them out. You research some unknown article and try to pass it off as your own. At least quote the source of your argument. Then we can all try to follow the ignorance you preach.
September 22, 2010 at 7:15am
In 1740 the Great Awakening had swept thru the colonies--vestiges of that religious revival was still being felt in 1787. While maining affecting the "middling sorts" and the lower classes it helped to bring to mind Senaca's adage for every man involved in government--primarily the learned, educated --whether appointed or elected. "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as foolish, and by the rulers as useful."
Hamiltion in crafting Washington's speeches, made sure there were references to God or religion everywhere the opportunity presented itself and Jefferson was a master of this practice.
One needs to look at the private writings and doings of the fathers of the Constitution to gain a better insight into their actual beliefs.
Franklin said in his autobiography "Some books against Deism fell into my hands ..the effect was quite contary..In short I soon became a thorough Deists"
Bishop White (Episcopal Church) was asked by Col. Mercer if Washington ever received communion when attended church. "Dear Sir, Truth reqires me to say Washington never received the communion..Mrs Washington was a habitual communicants."
Rev Abercrombie (Episcopal Church) when asked said " Washington went out after pulpit services always leaving Mrs. Washington to partake.." Joseph Ellis in his biography notes "He died a Roman Stoic rather than a Christian." Rev Abercrombie again "Sir, Washington was a Deist."
Adams with a strong Calvinist background was a Unitarian later in life--denying the doctrine of Trinity and the Divinity of Christ seeing Jesus as a great and good moral teacher but not devine. Adams along with the unanamious consent of the Senate (only the third time in 300 plus votes) proclaimed this in a treaty in 1797 "..Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
Read Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason" and the writings of Ethan Allen "denominated a Deist, being conscious I am no Christian."
Gouverneur Morris" deist bon vivant" "an irreligious and profane man.".
Madison --Article 3 of Memorial and Remonstrances "warned all about the dangers of "Christianity being clainmed as the national religion." Madison was passionate about the great need for separation of church and state--"its least interference would be the most flagrant usurption."
Hamiltion a deathbed convert to Christainity with New York's Episcopal bishop Rev Benjamin Moore refusing to adminster communion because Hamiltion had not attended church or been baptised.
Albany Daily Advertiser 1831 sermon of Rev Bird Wilson "the Constitution was framed and God was neglected, He was not merely forgotten, He was voted out of the Constitution."
Franklin on asked why God wasn't mentioned said "We forgot.' Hamiltion supposedly said "We saw no need for a foreign power."

rd77, I seldom go to the internet for information about the founding fathers but I have over the years acquired a rather large collection of books by various authors addressing the lives of these men and what they said in private and public communications (I have even been known to visit some college libraries for more information). Alas but true, some even support your position.

September 22, 2010 at 9:22am
Well I am glad to see you read books and have aquired a collection and are not cutting, copying and pasting your responses off the internet.

I too am an avid reader. And I like yourself have aquired a large collection over the years. To the point actually that I have no room to put them. I am out of book shelf space.

Specifically, my collection is concerning the founding fathers, American Revolution, Paine's Common Sense, Lincoln, Reagan, Roosevelt, Washington, Monroe, etc. To branch out I read Uncle Tom's Cabin, Houdinni, Twain, Poe, a little Shakespeare, Longfellow, Melville, Wells, and Verne. I love books on World War II and general trivia as well.

I have several 1st editions of Twain. They are rough in looks, but great in content. Not worth nothing to anyone else but me probably.

Personally, I don't go to the library because I like to keep the books I read for my own collection.

On this particluar subject, I have books that say one thing and you have books that say another. So where does that leave us?

It leaves us with this. Those men could be Druids and worship trees for all I care. Their practicing religion does not matter to this argument in the end.

What matters is the fact that every document, every treaty, every law, every speech they proposed in their lifetime while governing the United States had a Christian influence.

They built this county around a Christian belief and ideals, they developed laws around it and they governed by it.

Your books may say they had no religion at all, but history itself shows it differently in the way they governed and wrote.

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

Anytime you want to borrow a book, just email me and we will set something up.

September 22, 2010 at 11:50am
rd77: Couple recent are worthy of your time. Robert Mercy " A Country of Vast Designs" James K. Polk, Unger's "The Last Founding Father"---James Monroe and Gordon Woods' latest "Empire of Liberty", if you have not read, be sure to add to your library.
September 22, 2010 at 7:05pm
I will give them a whirl the next time I am in Books A Million.

I would suggest these to you if you have not read:

A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr.

Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (I am reading this now)

President Reagan "The Triump of Imagination by Richard Reeves

But, by far the best Lincoln book I have ever read is: "Team of Rivals" The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I highly reccommend this book to anyone who is a Lincoln fan or enjoys a well written book on what a President of the United States should be and how a political party should represent the people. I have read it twice and enjoyed it more the second time than the first.

September 23, 2010 at 5:37am
rd77--reread "Team" a number of times and gave copies to grandchildren, "REx" is a go back to book frequently. Hopefully you have read Caro's books on LBJ--great. Hanpton Sides has a couple on WWll that are interesting. "Twilight at Monticello" "The Summer of 1787" are must haves.
By the way--one more comment on our previous conversations:

Do you not find it strange that none of the quotes you post make no mention of Jesus? Deists, Unitarians, such as Adams, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and others felt strongly about a Creator, a Supreme Being, Author and Finisher of Faith but felt Jesus was only a Prophet, a good man with a good moral message to all but denies his Divinity.
One cannot be a Christian if you deny that Jesus is the Son of God.

This was my main point. Christianity was not the primary thrust of the Constitution--note---God, Christianity, is not mentioned it at all--only in the off hand and cuntomary "The year of our Lord"..
The idea of a Supreme Being has been around since the first man walked upright, men have felt their destiny has always been it the hands of fate, karma or the Creator---and such was the feeling of most of the six or seven we label as the "Founding Fathers'

Hope the day finds you well and may the road rise gently for you....
September 23, 2010 at 7:00am
Really to be honest, I don't find it strange that the Constitution or the Decleration of Independence neither have references to Jesus Christ.

Like I said before, I don't really care if those guys were Druids and worshiped trees.

I think those men were so opposed to forcing a particular belief on the people of America that I don't think they wanted to reference Jesus Christ.

I think they simply wanted to reference the God of the Bible in a way that was neutral yet made everyone understand the principal behind what they were saying was Christian.

I will disagree completely with your statement that "Christianity was not the primary thrust of the Constitution".

Not using the word Jesus Christ does not mean the idea behind the documents were not Christian.

In the Decleration it is evident by the references to God, Divine Providence, Creator, Laws of Nature & Natures God that this was a "Chritian" document.

Notice they did not reference Buddah, The Golden Calf, Ra, or Muhammad. They refrenced the the God of the Bible.

If your name was John and your father was Bill and I was talking about you, I could refer to you as Bill's son and everyone would know who I was talking about. And I think everyone knows that the writers of these documents were talking about the God of the Bible and not any other god.

When I write anything, whether it is a comment to a blog or article for the Courier, I have influences from my past, my family, my religion, people around me etc.

I don't think any of the founding fathers were any different. They may have not worshiped God the same way I do, but that doesn't mean they were not influenced by Him.

Lincoln is a prime example. He was on the verge of being an Aethist, yet his writings and speeches were heavily "Christian" in content.

I think you have to look beyond what you believe to be real and look at the evidence that you face. The founding fathers believed very much in the ideals and beliefs of Christianity regardless of how they actually worshiped.
September 24, 2010 at 5:44am
"Lincoln is a prime example. He was on the verge of being an Aethist, yet his writings and speeches were heavily "Christian" in content."

You forgot the adage of Senaca which Lincoln was a master---it was useful for Lincoln to pander to the beliefs of those who elected him. Window dressing for the masses--politicians do it all the time, GWB used it constantly. It had to be done for him to guide the nation in the direction he wanted to go.

"I think you have to look beyond what you believe to be real and look at the evidence that you face. The founding fathers believed very much in the ideals and beliefs of Christianity regardless of how they actually worshiped."

The essence of Christianity rests upon one miracle--if you deny that as did Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin, Paine and others then you have denied Christianity. These men did not believe that Jesus was the Son Of God. A good moral man but not devine. Christianity rests upon that premise--how can one have ideals and beliefs in Christianity and deny its corner stone. All these men believe in a Creator, Supreme Being but that does not make them Christians by any stretch of the imagination. Look to Locke and Holmes and others for the basics of the Constitution--founded on the natural laws and natural rights of man.
September 24, 2010 at 11:13am
You think because Lincoln might have read Chaucer or Dante that he is a Senaca disciple?

Lincoln could quote entire passages of Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet, but his writings and speeches were nothing like him.

You stretch the imagination to the limits by trying to pass off the idea that the founding fathers or Lincoln were not Christian influenced.

Their writings imply it, quote it and emphasize the belief behind it. You are getting to caught up in the idea of their worship practices and not what you can see in the mountain of evidence in front of you.

Personally, I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of the living God. I am a baptized believer. That in itself makes me a Christian. It then is left to me to choose to live my life as Christ like as possible.

However, people lived Christian lives all of the time without ever confessing Christ, attending church or worshiping God according to the Bible. And they were influenced by that Word as well.

I can drive a car. I am sure you can drive a car. There are millions of people who can drive a car. However, I am not a racecar driver and I bet you are not either. Yet, I am transported to and from places every day because of a car. I just don't race around a track every Sunday on the Nascar circuit.

These men were no different concerning the Bible. They may not have been Christians in the biblical sense, yet their words were influenced by the Bible every time they wrote or spoke. The laws they helped write were also influenced by the Christian bible.

Lincoln's knowledge of the Bible was said to be immense. His writings time after time are evident to the influence the Word of God had upon him. So were the founding fathers.

You can believe that neither he nor any of the founding fathers were not influenced by the inspired Word of God and I will believe their speeches, letters, words all say differently. The evidence supports it.

I am really unclear on how you could not understand that with the evidence those men left in speech after speech, letter after letter and law after law that they were not influenced by it.
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