Wednesday, July 24, 2013
On Banning, Burning and Boycotting Books
What do you do when a book challenges your entire system of belief? Thank it? Sometimes. What if it's a bad book--just an absolute steaming pile of crap? Laugh at it? Probably. But what if it's something else entirely? Do you ban it, burn it, or boycott it?
One one hand, I think that books, however badly written they might be, are an ideal, and that any attack of them is a symbolic attack on peoples' freedom to express themselves. On the other hand, a lot of writers are dickheads.
I have a whole shelf of books that were banned, burned or boycotted at one time. The classics, you know, ranging from everything from Sade to Harry Potter. Now there are two books you don't often see sharing self space. And some of them I love (hello, Harry!) and some of them I feel squicky even looking at (really, Sade, really?). But here's the thing. I still believe that books have an intrinsic value outside of their controversy. In the case of Harry Potter, it's because they're awesome. And in the case of Sade, it's because once you can get past the didn't-have-a-word-for-how-sick-this-was-before-him stuff, the philosophy of it is fascinating.
But there's one book I really wish I hadn't bought. And it's a great book, it really, really is, but I find the author's views on gay people and gay rights so personally repellent and hate-filled, that, had I known them at the time, I wouldn't have chosen to give him any of my money.
And, like I said, this is a great book, and will probably be a great movie.
Would I ban this book? No.
Would I burn this book? Hell no.
But would I boycott it? Personally, yes. And in a heartbeat.
The key word here is personally.
Read what you want. Buy what you want. And draw the line in the sand where it needs to be for you.
Are there any books you won't read because of an author's beliefs or behaviour?