Saturday, March 10, 2007

Do You Feel Inclined to Censure

OR . . .

"I promise I’ll be a good writer just please, don’t burn my book!"

By Keith Fisher


This is the first part of a two-part blog that is intended to incite the expression of opinions. I'm on my soapbox again and I would like to hear your opinions, but please keep your comments within the parameters of the spirit of the blog.

In 1933 Nazi youth groups, encouraged by Hitler, set out to burn books in Germany. The books they burned were subversive by their own standards, not conducive to the doctrine of the state.

I have been told that in 367 AD, in the interest of purity of religion, Athanasius, a Bishop of Alexandria ordered the Egyptian monks to destroy more than 95 percent of a legendary library that had been built for thousands of years.

These were not the only groups guilty of this act of abolition in a quest for absolution. Many have repeated this atrocity throughout the centuries, to the extent of the loss of irreplaceable volumes of the history of man.

Recently, I was reading a book by author, editor, and publisher, Sol Stein. After reading his non-fiction books about writing, I looked forward with great anticipation to reading one of his novels.
In the forward of Stein’s book, The Magician, the author talked about the history of the novel, and discussed at length, the banning of his book by several school districts in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Immediately, my hackles were raised. I thought back to a time in my youth when there were several books on the "questionable list" Such books as Catcher in the Rye, the Great Gatsby, and Breakfast of Champions, to mention a few.

I thought of the television episode of Mash when the characters were driven crazy by the desire to see a banned movie called The Moon is Blue. When they finally saw the movie, they discovered the questionable material was really nothing, especially by today’s TV standards.

History shows that when you attach the word "BANNED" to anything, it only increases the desire of consumers to experience it.

I was torn between my intellectual side and my spiritual side. On one hand, I was appalled that anyone would ban a book. After all, isn’t banning the first step to burning? On the other hand I read further in the Magician and I asked myself, would I want my kids to read that book?

I turned to my neighbor for his thoughts. He is a sociology professor who has taught in both LDS and state institutions. I recited for him, my dilemma. His response is telling, he said, "I have asked my students to read materials that I wouldn’t want my own children to read." As an educator, his task is to teach his students about different cultures and some of them reflect a different set of standards than does the LDS culture.

For now, I can control what I, and my children read. You might say I’m banning books in my family. But the evidence is in. Children are better adjusted if they are allowed to keep purity of mind and heart for as long as they can. It’s true that naiveté is a factor, but my heart tells me they are better off learning certain things later in life, when they can deal with it in an adult way.

On the other side there is the parent who bans LDS fiction and non-fiction from his family. The parent is undoubtedly convinced that his children will be brainwashed by those blankety-blank Mormons.

Continued in my next blog

2 comments:

Carole Thayne said...

Hi Keith, I too am not a big fan of censoring. I wondered if you really meant to say Censure or censor. You may very well be doing a word play with the quote--although censure is to harshly criticize. It may work with the content, but I'm not sure. Bill Clinton was to be censured for his sexual misconduct although most parents would've preferred that the tv stations censored the stories a little more. Anyway interesting blog.

Keith Fisher said...

Thank you Carole. Yes I ment Censure. I wondered if anyone would pick up on that.