Banning Books: Is It Ethical?

by Jana Seal, Editor In Chief

During the last week of September each year, the American Library Association brings awareness to the banning and challenging of certain books, and school libraries across the country acknowledge students’ freedom to inform themselves. The week-long dedication brings up the controversial question about banning books- is it ethical?

Although it is commonly believed that banning books is decreasingly necessary and even immoral, there are still certain books that are banned. At the same time, banning books has proven to be a prevalent outlet of information censoring by dictators and prejudiced people throughout history, and even in recent history. This larger issue of censoring of information is fed by limitation of literature and even access to the internet, (hence why the repealing of net neutrality deeply concerns so many people) so banning books is more than a satisfying of angry parents who don’t want their children reading about racial or religious issues- it’s a piece in the chess game of historical politics.

Banning books is the means by which dictators and totalitarian governments convince masses of their truths- when you eliminate information, it can not be used in order to justify a point of view and thus no opposing argument can be made. The present issue, however, prevails as much less severe. The banning of books doesn’t currently attempt to rewrite history or persuade masses, however it does limit imagination and understanding among, especially, children. The banning of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter sparked these concerns, with a prevalent argument being that the religious beliefs of one person or group should not affect the education or development of another. An additional instance of this is in the banning of historical books, such as those about the Holocaust and slavery. This is even more dangerous, as sheltering inevitably breeds ignorance.

In recognizing banned books week, we recognize the stance taken by the ALA that parents are responsible for regulating what their child reads or doesn’t read. Although a prevalent motif in today’s day and age is of groups and individuals vying to control everyone else’s beliefs, the beauty of the United States and of most of the modern world is in individuality. Reading and informing oneself is the most powerful way to develop opinions and cultivate that individuality- so the execution of Banned Books Week is not only beneficial to children, but to the world that they are becoming a part of.

Period 7 English III students Cameron Karaba ’20, Josh Roberts ’20, Collin Lavaux ’20, and Jason Zhang ’20 discuss banned book Fahrenheit 451 in a poster for class.