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John Bressler - What are you reading from the 'banned book' list?
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John Bressler

       I always thought the word "AARP" was a sound made by a dog with a lisp until I began to receive my own copy of the retired person's newspaper, which I have found to be informative and interesting. On page 39 of the last edition, there is a headline, "Banned!", covering just a few of the many books either banned, burned or blacklisted. To my surprise and dismay, I have been found guilty of reading over half of the books on the list, but for the life of me, don't feel embarrassed or ashamed.
       As I recall, I have also read some stuff not on this particular list, such as, "The Communist Manifest," "Mein Kampf," and "The Song of Songs" from the Bible (also blacklisted) and am neither a Commie or a Nazi, but am a Christian. The first two were read out of curiosity and I have read the Bible more times than I can remember because it is the Word of God.
       According to an article from the University of Virginia, "Books have been suppressed, altered, expurgated, bleeped, blackened, cut, burned or bowdlerized." (a word coined from the name of a family widely known for their brand of censorship) This statement is not about judging censors or censorship but trying to encourage people to question, "Why?"
       I guess this is where I am coming from, too, because I have found that the more I read and attempt to understand a particular position or opinion, the better I can intelligently debate an issue and take a stand for or against. I know how difficult it can be to separate opinion, emotion and prejudice from reason and critical thinking.
       I am also in complete support of parents who wish to take control of their child's reading because some material can be devastating or inappropriate for young readers who lack the skills to separate literature - which can be challenging - from that which can be overwhelming in content and context.
       If a book is required reading for young people, I have always believed that every concerned parent must and should read the material carefully before making a decision based on rumor. If there is a conflict, be vocal and firm and ask if there are some alternative readings that can be substituted. I don't believe any parent wants a child's curiosity stifled or education limited.
       By the way, I was really puzzled to read that Huxley, Twain, Darwin and Steinbeck were on the list and taken aback to read the name of Ray Bradbury, with his book, "Fahrenheit 451," treated so negatively. I am, at the same time, very proud of our local library that not only made cases of his book available but also had it discussed one evening. Just reading old 451 will make us acutely aware that he almost predicted 2010 to the letter.
       I suppose I am saying, in a nice way, to not tell me what to read. I value your opinion but let me read for myself so I can form my own ideas. I might just agree with you, and I might want to have a great debate.
       Off the subject a tad, I had a friend, Bo Hardley, in the Navy, who loved to tie knots like: the granny, bowline, sheepshank and square to mention a few. One day, I noticed he tied a knot that looked odd. I asked him, "Is that a knot, Hardley?" "Why, yes it is, John. In fact, I'm going to publish a book on knots and I'm going to title it, 'Hardley's Knots."   How do you like that?"
       "Well, Bo, I like it more than you can imagine." I hope it doesn't get banned.

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