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September 26, 2013

THEIR VIEW: Celebrate freedom with a 'banned' book

Got big plans next week? Open to suggestion? We’re here to help.

We suggest you do something that doesn’t sit well with someone, somewhere. Simply put, we hope you read a book.

This week is Banned Books Week, an observance that began in 1982. According to the initiative’s website, Banned Books Week was started in response to a large number of “challenges” to certain books available in schools, libraries and bookstores.

We want to be clear on a key point. We respect the right of parents to determine which books are and are not appropriate for their children to read. Book sellers have a right to cater to their clientele. Library and school officials should be allowed to choose the books made available to their communities and students.

We also have no quarrel with those who object to the content of certain books. People arrive at their opinions based on background and life experience, and sneering at values is an elitism generally best avoided.

However, principled objection to printed words crosses the line when the objecting individual, or group, seeks to limit access to a book by the larger community. We think that approach is contrary to the American traditions of choice and free speech. Frankly, we find it offensive.

The best counteroffensive? Read.

The Banned Books Week site lists several of the most-challenged titles of 2012. The top 10 includes books by Toni Morrison and Sherman Alexie, two insightful and immensely talented authors. Those wishing to assert their rights as freethinking residents of the United States could do worse than sampling their works.

In 2013, there are still those who would like to limit access to books. We encourage you to visit the American Library Association website at www.ala.org to learn which books are frequently challenged. Then we suggest you read one or more of those works, perhaps via your local library or bookstore.

In the battle for intellectual freedom, you’ll win.

—The Goshen News

THE ISSUE This week is "Banned Book Week." THEIR VIEW

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