Banned Books Week is September 23-29 this year. The list is posted by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and refers to books/materials that have been banned in some libraries, schools, and universities. Among the top ten books banned in 2017 was Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published in 1960! Many of the books on the list have been banned due to topics such as suicide, profanity, gender identity, sex education, and in the case of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” violence and racial slurs. Anyone who has read and studied the book knows that the violence and racial slurs are purposefully included to show what racism looks/sounds like and to illustrate the horror of such acts as part of America’s history.
In thinking about banned books in America, my thoughts moved to the many current challenges to our Constitution. Challenges such as freedom of speech are apparent in cases where institutions ban books; NFL players silently demonstrate to protest the, sometimes brutal, force used by some police officers toward members of the black community; our current POTUS punitively silences anyone who criticizes him, or prevents immigrants seeking asylum from having their day in court, or assaults the news media with claims of “fake” news just because he doesn’t like the news being reported.
If Americans wish to keep their civil liberties of freedom of religion, speech, and the press, as well as the rights of assembly and petition, we must raise our voices when we witness the abuse of these freedoms by any individual, group, or government representative. If Americans do not stand up for these rights, they may be lost and so, too, our nation.
Karen Mizner, President of FTFW
This "Message from the President" was included in Volume 1, Issue 9 of the Hoosier Humanist Herald, which was published on 9/3/18 by FTFW.