Thursday Randomness: Banned books in an ebook world

I can understand the impulse that leads to banning books. I don’t agree with it, but I understand the kneejerk reaction of “This is garbage, wasteful, and not something I am comfortable with”. I have that reaction to a lot of TV shows with excess sex on screen (HBO, I’m looking at you), or comedians who think every joke has to consist of at least 5 cuss words. I’m hardly a prude, but it’s often lazy writing that leads to excess profanity. So objectively, I can see why in areas where education is poor, or tilted in ways that certain normal aspects of our lives become completely taboo, they would want to control what their children read (Though I wish they’d extend the same effort to the TV/music, if they’re going to censor in one form, censor in all of them!).

But as our world shifts more and more to ebooks, is there really any such thing as banned? Even in areas where ereaders aren’t making much inroads, smart phones are becoming ubiquitous, and it’s rare to find a household without a computer anymore. All the social media means we learn about things so quickly. A book that is “banned” gets talked about. People want to read what’s being talked about, and telling them they aren’t allowed to is guaranteed to make them want to do it even more. All someone has to do is go to their nearest internet connection source, and pull up the bookstore of their choice, and they can start reading in very little time. As more of our world becomes digital, the only way to censor anything will be to censor everything. It’s why things like SOPA are so frightening. If the internet is censored, if books are censored, if speech itself is censored, then those in power can control everything. Conversely, if there is no censorship, then there is no control, and that’s something that really terrifies people in power, it seems.

Personally, I can accept that not everything is going to be to my tastes. There are whole swaths of things that just don’t appeal to me. But just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean no one should be able to enjoy it, if it’s their thing. Something about open, free markets.

Have you ever agreed with censoring a book? If so, what made you think that, not only you shouldn’t read it, but that no one should?

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1 Comment

  1. thebnc said,

    July 27, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    I can’t get behind censorship at all. It’s not like somebody’s going to hold your head down and force you to read a book. Everybody has a choice about whether they want to read it or not. And I think you said it better than I could:

    “But just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean no one should be able to enjoy it, if it’s their thing. Something about open, free markets.”

    Bingo.


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