Censorship

Censorship

Censorship of reading materials has been going on for as long as writers have written.  What a shame for our children.  I realize that there are books on the market that may go against some people’s family values.  However, they have a right to not read those books if they disagree with the content.  Parents have the right to monitor what their children read.  But censorship takes away the books from EVERYONE.  Each family has the right to make those decisions for themselves and not have someone else’s biases determine what is available. 

One of my favorite authors as a young girl was Judy Blume.  I remember people talking about “that book” with the embarrassing information.  The book as you might have guessed is, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret.  I remember burrowing down in my bed preparing for the most embarrassing read of my life.  But what????  It really wasn’t bad at all.  I already knew about everything that she discussed in the book, so I really didn’t see what all of the fuss was about.

This week I have taken some time to research about censorship.  While looking for information, I found two links with information and interviews from Judy Blume herself.  I felt that hearing her thoughts on the matter would be quite an interesting take on the subject.  My son posted the first link to his Facebook on Sunday, and just by doing so it has caused a great deal of controversy.  We have family members that believe differently than we do about children’s access to reading, and some of our family members have taken offense to the article.  They don’t understand the true issue of censorship.  One member stated, “ I understand that there’s a fine line between being crazy about what your children are allowed to read-not letting them read anything with even a twinge of inappropriateness- and being just as crazy by simply not worrying because “they probably won’t get it or else they already know…” There need to be MORE not fewer parents who actually “parent” and guide their children. And, censorship is part of parenting. Bottom line is; I don’t believe kids just let things they don’t understand “wash over them. 

Some definitions from dictionary.com regarding censorship are:

  1. an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs,letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral,political, military, or other grounds.
  2. an adverse critic; faultfinder.

The problem that I see with censorship is that it takes away other’s rights to read what they determine to be appropriate.  I agree with my family member that parents should monitor children according to their beliefs.  What I disagree with is her terming that as censorship.  I feel as though what she is talking about is being a good parent.

In addition to my son posting the link on Sunday, one of the blogs that I am following also had the article listed.  I don’t believe that the idea of censorship will ever go away.

The following link was entitled, “Judy Blume:  Parents worry too much about what children read.”  In the article, she Judy argues that children “will simply ‘self-censor’ by getting bored of anything they do not understand.”  What an interesting concept.  Below the link, I have copied and pasted the entire article written by Hannah Furness, Arts Correspondent for The Telegraph.

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/10868544/Judy-Blume-Parents-worry-too-much-about-what-children-read.html

Parents worry “much too much” about what their children are reading, said the author Judy Blume. She argued that they will simply “self-censor” by getting bored of anything they do not understand.

Blume, the bestselling author of Forever, Blubber and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, said people should not be unduly concerned about their children’s reading material.

If the content was unsuitable, she argued, children would simply tire of it or let it wash over their heads without understanding.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, she said the experience of having her own books banned in the Eighties was “alarming”, leaving her feeling “very alone”.

Her novels, which confront issues of teenage sex, racism, divorce, bullying, puberty and masturbation, were considered shocking at the time, and are remembered by a generation of women for teaching them the facts of life.

Blume, now 76, has sold more than 80 million books worldwide and her work has been translated into 31 languages.

She told the audience that parents should be less concerned about the suitability of their children’s reading material, concentrating more on simply getting them to love books.

“A lot of people worry much too much about what their children are reading,” she said.

“A lot of people will want to control everything in their children’s lives, or everything in other people’s children’s lives.

“If a child picks up a book and reads something she has a question about, if she can go to her parents, great.

“Or else they will read right over it. It won’t mean a thing.

“They are very good, I think, at monitoring what makes them feel uncomfortable. If something makes them feel uncomfortable they will put it down.”

Some of Blume’s own books, written and published in the Seventies, were banned in the United States during the Eighties, with Deenie becoming her “most banned book” for references to the main character’s “special place”.

“Most of the time they hadn’t even read the book,” Blume said of the complainants. “Even if they had, they only read what I would call the ‘good stuff’.

“It was definitely alarming. It was a very scary time and I felt very alone.”

Speaking to her young fans in the audience, she added: “I say go and read. Read what you like to read.”

Another link that I found about Judy Blume was entitled, “Judy Blume’s ‘Summer Sisters’ is Full of Things You Never Noticed.”  The article was written by Rachel Simon of Bustle, and I have copied part of it for you below the link.  Summer Sisters is a book of hers that I hadn’t heard of, so I will need to look at it the next time I am at the library.

http://www.bustle.com/articles/25235-judy-blumes-summer-sisters-is-full-of-things-you-never-noticed

Although the subject matter in Judy Blume’s books may occasionally be cause for controversy, there are a few matters related to the author in which there’s nothing to debate: a) she is the best; b) without her books, none of us would’ve survived adolescence, and c) while all her novels are fantastic, none of them are quite as good as Summer Sisters, her gorgeous, sprawling love story about female friendship, a book that, this year, turned 16 (!) years old.

 I remember the first time that I read Summer Sisters well. I was 15, a sophomore in high school, and had grabbed the book off my mother’s shelf one weekend afternoon out of curiosity—what was this Judy Blume book I hadn’t read that looked decidedly more adult than the copies of Deenie and Blubber I had laying around my room? Five hours later, I finished the book. Five years later, I practically know it by heart. 

There’s just something about Summer Sisters that makes it so special, so important. It’s the rare piece of fiction that considers the friendships between women as the complex, emotional, intimate relationships they are, never belittling them or tearing them apart because “women never get along.” The book knows well how consuming these friendships can be, how the invitation of a popular girl to stay at her home can forever alter the course of a wallflower’s life. All of Blume’s books have relatable elements, but in Summer Sisters, every page feels like a personal message, telling you, the reader: Judy Blume understands.

 

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