Banned Books Week sheds light on censorship and freedom of speech

By Jacquie Russo
Staff Writer

Banned Books Week is not about books. It’s not even about censorship. It’s about freedom of speech. Even though the First Amendment of the United States Constitution only limits Congress’s right to restrict speech, most Americans expand these limits to other organizations and individuals. This is why many people are against most forms of book banning.

From Sept. 22 to 28 bookworms from all around the nation celebrated Banned Books Week by buying some of the many books that others throughout the years have tried to have banned from schools, libraries and stores.

Most book banning is initiated by parents. According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom on the American Library Association website, parents challenge books due to sexual material, crude language, age appropriateness, violence, and homosexuality.

To Yesenia Sanchez, a CSUB junior nursing student, banning books is not acceptable. She said, “Books are the insight.” One of Sanchez’s favorite reads is a poetry book by Allen Ginsberg called “Howl.” This poetry book takes place in the 1950s and has a lot of reference to drugs, sexual content and crude language. In the past, people even faced legal implications for selling “Howl and Other Poems.” Its publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was tried for obscenity according to foundsf.org. Sanchez said “to understandabout the era you need to read about it … We should not ban books. We should learn from them.”

Nick Finocchiaro, a CSUB sophomore business student who listens to music labeled “explicit,” said, “that to an extent a parent should monitor it [books, music, etc.] only until their child is old enough … In our atmosphere right now, like college … the kids should definitely be able to choose what they want to read without their parent’s consent.”

Parents will always want to protect their children from matter they deem inappropriate and some parents believe that by getting rid of certain books they will reduce this problem.

Nancy Robles, an undeclared CSUB freshman, said kids will “eventually read them somewhere else.”

Yes, some books will have crude language, sexual content and violence but that’s not the main focus of most books. There is some thought in every book and a lesson to be taught.

Sanchez said, “You want to read these things because you don’t want to make the same mistakes… you want to learn about it.”

When someone tries to ban a book they are forgetting the purpose of that book.

So even though Banned Books Week has passed, pick up a banned book and learn about the characters, the settings, and be drawn into the message of the novel.

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