Banned Books

I visited the library where I used to hold a day job. I looked around at the hall of learning. Gratitude filled my being. Half of everything worth learning came to me from books, another part from great parents, the rest from failure, and experience. Because of writers, I learned philosophy, history, how to paint, to write, how to grow plants, how to be the best person I could be, etc. Reading is not wasting time. I dedicate March to reading. Visit your local library.

I do not like beets, really do NOT like them. I don’t even like the smell of beets, especially pickled beets with those yucky, pink eggs. They are offensive to multiple senses. Disgusting! I’d eat a cricket, a snake, or maybe dirt before I’d eat a beet.

Friends and family know this fact. Do you know how many people offer me beets because of my disdain for beets? All of them. If I never drew attention to my dislike for beets, no one would care. The beets would remain in obscurity as just beets on their dish, never to be the controversial object of picnics and gatherings.

 I have tried beets repeatedly to see if at some point I might change my mind about them. My choice. No one ever actually tried to shove a beet down my throat.

 I’ll never ask society to annihilate beets because I do not like them, really do NOT like them. I can choose not to eat beets.

You bet I read banned books. I have the choice to read or not to read books. It’s up to me what books I consume. What a privilege! Banning books is as ridiculous as a ban on beets. Think about it.

Where the Sidewalk Ends and possibly anything written by Shel Silverstein- banned because of references to cannibalism, destruction of property, and rebellion against parents. Come on. Let the person who never rebelled against parents, toss the first stone. (More on casting stones to follow.) I read all of Shel’s books to my daughter. She never turned into a cannibal or destroyed anyone’s property. The books were funny nonsense. The poem about a pickled fly and a vinegar jug with a slippery edge never turned my kid into a alcoholic or a person who killed small creatures. Nor did she get any reference to curiosity killing the bug. Nope, she memorized a short poem, her first, and was pleased.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl-banned because of inappropriate language (the word ass), mystical elements, etc. (giant peaches and bugs, no shit.) Any inappropriate language my daughter  learned was from me, and not from one of her favorite books. She’s a married young woman now who just bought her first house, holds a full time job, pays taxes, and is a valuable member of society. Giant peaches and bugs didn’t mess her up. Neither did her parents who provided love, guidance, and independent thinking.

Harry Potter series-banned for promoting witchcraft, spells, and evil. Did I miss something? Weren’t the witches trying to prevent evil from taking over? I tried some of the spells. They never worked. Was that because I’m a terrible witch or because the books are fantasy?

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien- banned because it was said to be satanic. Tolkien was a devout Catholic. The plot is based on a journey to DEFEAT the evil Sauron, and not to kneel before the evil leader to offer Lambas bread. The mob didn’t research the book before getting their panties in a bunch.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson-banned because people believed the story was an attack on small town values or an attack on tradition. The Bible has a story about casting stones. Challenge that narrative. Face it. Any story that challenges the status quo will meet resistance. Those are the stories we need most.

The Grapes of Wrath-John Steinbeck-banned because of offensive language. What the fuck?

I question the story of a girl whose family would choose to pimp her out to a prince. When unable to join in the meat market due to the ploys of a few bitches, the girl plots to meet him regardless. The girl keeps her real self a secret, and plays hard to get by running off and leaving a clue behind. The rich dude then has to fondle a foot of every woman in the kingdom to find the tease. After the secretive, plotted meeting, and a used, possibly now stinky or bloody (depends on the version of the story*) shoe that fits, the rich dude and the girl marry and live happily ever after. Kind of far fetched from reality or at least the reality I saw for my daughter. But alas, my daughter was never harmed by the story of Cinderella either.

* In the original Grimm brother’s version of Cinderella, the step-sisters cut off a heel or a toe to make the slipper fit and have their eyeballs plucked out by pigeons at the end.

Neither beets nor books should be banned. You have the power of choice.

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