I guess this must be Banned Books Week. When I went to Half Price Bookstore yesterday the Banned Books display was up. The usual books were there, like Huckleberry Finn and Brave New World, plus a several books that were unfamiliar to me. And there was Harry Potter, among the latest and most popular "banned" books. The one book I didn't see on the display was the Bible, the most banned book in history. Interesting omission, which got me to thinking. Do we use the term "banned" too loosely and too selectively? I think we do.
Off and on over the years I've heard about pitch battles between concerned parents and school officials over what kind of books should be available to public school children. Such battles usually involved shrill accusations of book banning and censorship, especially if the parents were conservative. But the charge of censorship never rang true to me.
If a book is removed from, say, an elementary school library but is still available in junior and senior high school libraries, public libraries, and bookstores, then that book really isn't banned. Removing a book from a certain audience but not from society as a whole isn't censorship, and if it is then we must ask why all the efforts to remove the Bible and other religious expression from the entire public square are rarely condemned as acts of censorship. It seems to me that the cry of "Book banning!" or "Censorship!" often doesn't reflect a principled commitment to free expression but is, rather, a weapon in the Left's war to discredit and extinguish conservative ideas and values. If the public can be convinced that conservatives are intolerant censors the easier it will be to, irony of ironies, censor them!
I don't think that everyone on the Left plays the censorship card as a means to suppress conservatives. I believe there are good people on both sides of the political aisle who sincerely oppose censorship and support freedom of expression as matters of principle. Such people need to lead the way in the fight to preserve our speech and press liberties. Then, freedom of expression will be defended for all and we won't waste time and effort fighting for "banned" books you can get at any library or bookstore.
If you can check it out or buy it without fear of the law, then it's not banned. Let's save Banned Books week for material that can get you jailed, or worse, if you have it. You know, like the Bible.