Banned Books Week! (5)

Back in the 19th century, there was this guy who made serious bank re-writing Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet lived. The witches in Macbeth were — poof! — gone. Hamlet’s step-father learned the error of this ways, and all was forgiven. We read them now and laugh at their overly-protective sense of manner and decorum… even as we fail to see that he was doing then what others are doing right now.

The real BBW comes up later this month. When it happens, and you see folks getting upset about this or that book — either because it should be banned or because it shouldnt — just bear in mind what Doc said. We fear things because we already know what we dont want to know. Concerned parents upset that little Johnny is going to discover sex from reading Catcher in the Rye or that little Janey is going to be damaged because Twain uses the word “nigger” in talking about the horrors of slavery. To be blunt, it’s not that the parents dont want their kids reading this stuff. It’s that they’re afraid. Suddenly they have to explain difficult things to their kids — and in the process they have to explain why humanity is so inhuman sometimes.

Some of these banned books have been around for hundreds of years. People still read them. There’s usually a reason for that. Before demanding they be removed from the library shelves, maybe the question should be, why are you so afraid of them?

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