Banned Books Week: Giving a reason doesn’t require reason

Lists are always popular during Banned Books Week. Two related and somewhat fun ones have appeared this week looking at the reasons people give when they challenge a book.

First, MobyLives give us The Top Ten Ludicrous Reasons To Ban A Book. Perhaps my favorite is the objection to Little Red Riding Hood: “The basket carried by Little Red Riding Hood contained a bottle of wine, which condones the use of alcohol.”

Flavorwire comes up with The Absurb Logic Behind Some of the Most Famous Banned Books. This list’s highlight is one of reverse psychology. Echoing my comment Monday about the allure of forbidden fruit, the head of the English department at Anaheim Union High School had Silas Marner banned from the school: “it was the only way to get students to read the damned thing…within weeks of banning it, every last one of [them] knew it by heart.”

The two lists also prove ludicrousness and absurdity are not the same. Why should Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic be challenged? The ludicrous reason: “Encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” The absurd reason: The poems in the book “glorified Satan, suicide, and cannibalism.”

I’m betting kids who broke dishes after reading the book said the devil made them do it.

Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always be the last resort of the boob and the bigot.

Eugene O’Neill

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