It seems that this week is Banned Books week, which is an initiative to celebrate the freedom to read and the efforts of some to ban certain books. In the UK we are probably in a fairly ‘safe’ position when it comes to books banned by the state. The only ones I can think of are ones that the Government stopped being published because they were a threat to ‘National Security’ – so, books like SpyCatcher and Andy Hayman’s books that was due to be published this year on the London Bombings. I have mixed feelings about such bans. I am definitely no pro-banning books, but I am also not pro people who are trying to make a bit of money by selling their story and revealing things that they shouldn’t - be that state ‘secrets’ or details of a relationship.
But actually Banned Books week is about something more subtle than that. It is more about banning books from the educations system because they promote ‘unwholesome vales’ – which might be issues about race or sexuality or the language contained in it. Of those, actually the one I would have the least issue with not allowing to be used in schools would be ones with offensive language. But generally banning something is not a good thing (for a whole variety of reasons) and it can often have the opposite effect anyway buy drawing more attention to the issue or giving the banned issue or person something of a cult status (for good or ill).
A great book on the consequences of banning of books is Fahrenheit 451 (which I read last year), maybe this week would be a good time to give it a go if you have never read it.