Last week, I spent time at New York Public Library. Speaking of books, by now, you’ve either read Fifty Shades of Grey or know someone who has. “Did you know that sexual content is one of the greatest excuses for book censorship, both historically and today?” says National Coalition Against Censorship’s Acacia O’Connor in Sex and the Censored Book. Banning published pages is an archaic and outdated idea. Hell, even the American Library Associate now celebrates reading banned books. If you’re curious, here’s a somewhat astonishing short list from the timeline explaining which books were once objectionable:
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou was challenged by Alabama State Textbook Committee for “references to lesbianism, premarital sex and profanity.”
- Alice Walker’s The Color Purple apparently promotes “man’s relationship to […] human sexuality” and “sexual and social explicitness.”
- Judy Blume’s Forever is a bit slutty because it includes “sexual situations.”
- John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is no friend to a few folks in Carroll Township, PA. The book and its “sexual overtones” can take itself elsewhere.
- Go Ask Alice by Anonymous was challenged in Wall Township, NJ because it supposedly “borders on pornography.” Though, interesting, today Go Ask Alice is a wonderful online sexual health resource for college students operated by Columbia University.
- Poor Michael Willhoite. Brevard County (FL) Library and Hays (KS) Public Library practically kicked Daddy’s Roommate out for “teaching of the homosexual lifestyle as another way to show love.”
- The Gossip Girl YA novel series by Cecily von Ziegesar can kindly take its “sexual innuendo” away from Leesburg (FL) Public Library.
To be clear, I’m certainly not saying 50 Shades is an award-winning novel on par with works like I Know Why the Cages Bird Sings. I’m just saying people have always gotten their panties in a bunch about sex on paper and online. Censorship isn’t the answer. If you’ve read the above banned books and want more, check out Timeline: 30 Years of Liberating Literature.