George Orwell made an excellent point about censorship in his classic novel “1984”.
The novel depicts daily life in a dystopian future where everything, including thought, is censored and monitored by a mysterious governmental figure called Big Brother. Without giving away too many spoilers, it is obvious that things do not run smoothly for the people under Big Brother’s rule.
Although Orwell’s intentions for the novel can be debated, mostly because he’s not around for us to ask, it is safe to assume he was not a fan of censorship. Ironically, his book has been censored and banned countless times since its publication in 1948.
There are many reasons why a book can be banned, along with people who want a book to be banned, in the first place. In most cases, the process is based on a desire to protect children from content some would find harmful for adolescents. However, the idea of banning a book is seen by others as a violation to one’s education, since most book bannings happen in public school libraries.
“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group,” says the American Library Association’s website. “A banning is the removal of those materials.”
The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom is in charge of analyzing reports from libraries, schools and other outlets across the country as to why a book should be censored. From that point, the book is considered to be challenged. Although many books are reported each year, only a few make it to the point of actually being banned from a library or institution.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides individuals with the right to read and write books, despite how others might view the material. Although the banning process can be deemed as unconstitutional, it can also limit one’s education.
“Not every book is right for every person, but providing a wide range of reading choices is vital for learning, exploration and imagination. The abilities to read, speak, think and express ourselves freely are core American values,” says ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano.
The ALA is just one of the many organizations fighting to ensure one’s right to read. September 25 marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, a national week-long celebration of reading and bringing awareness to banned books and censorship. More information about Banned Books Week, as well as a list of events to attend, can be found at bannedbooksweek.org.
Thankfully for UVa-Wise students, the new library is equipped with many challenged and banned books for students to continue their search for knowledge.