In 2013, most people have formed an idea that the United States is a free country that bears little, if any, resemblance to Ray Bradbury's dystopian landscape in Fahrenheit 451. There's no state police force burning books on the streets, and citizens are free to to read whatever they want. Look closer, though, and you will find countless incidents of literature and content that is challenged or suppressed because of ideological reasons. For instance, a school system in Judson, TX prohibited students from reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Allegedly, the Judson superintendent said that parents had complained that Atwood's book is sexually explicit and offensive to Christians. And it's not just books that are being banned. An article in the Huffington Post reports that the government has asked Google to block or remove items from its search results for reasons that are political in nature.
We need to think about the imperative of intellectual freedom. Stop by the Carmichael Library sometime soon to observe Banned Books Week and reflect on this important issue. On the main floor of the Carmichael Library, we've set up a display with selections from the ALA's list of 100 most frequently challenged books of the past decade. Our display is a part of the ALA's Banned Books Week program. Of course, you are encouraged to check out a banned book and read it. You might be surprised to see which books have been challenged on social or ideological grounds.
Let us know about your experiences with banned books in the comments. Did you attend a high school that suppressed certain books or films? Have you read a banned book before and wondered why it has been challenged?