This Post Has Been Banned

I grew up in a house full of books. My father is a reader and he has hundreds of books, almost all fiction. I read plenty of his collection, mostly the science fiction stuff and a Bond novel or two. My own collection is probably a bit more eclectic. I own a Jefferson Bible and all seven Harry Potter tomes.

Books are important in my family. Reading is done for pleasure. It was years before I realized other families simply didn’t have shelves of books in their homes.

My daughter has my love for libraries and reading. She devours books. I’ve turned her on to a few things I thought she might like, Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book comes to mind. However, the most successful suggestion was when I handed her a copy of Twilight with the words, “I think you might like this. Your Mom likes vampires too.”

So, it caught my attention when some Christian coalition group with right wing political ties of some sort had their tighty-whities in a bunch over Twilight. Their press release denounced the sparkly vampires as bad role models and encouraging occultism. I’m guessing they probably had a problem with the overt Mormonism in the books too, but that isn’t the interesting angle.

It’s the same stupid argument regarding Harry Potter: these books/movies encourage readers (READ: our childrens! Think of the childreeeennnns!) to worship the occult or Satanism or something else far more sinister. I have no patience for these brainless mouth-breathers. Anything that encourages children to read is a good thing. In this day and age of video games and internet diversions, getting a kid to read a 300 page book is a feat of epic proportions. Of course, when you dig just past fingernail depth their real agenda is for everyone to read the Bible and nothing else. Basically, they are positioning themselves as book reviewers telling everyone who will listen that their book is better than the new flavor of the month.

By the way, I’m not knocking the Bible. It’s an interesting read on a variety of levels. Still, amazingly there are plenty of other books at the bookstore. A person can actually read more than one book and I would even venture the idea that they should.

As for the occult nonsense, I often wonder how much damage the Wizard of Oz has made on the collective psyche of the American public with its flying monkeys, talking scarecrows and wicked witches. In the pre-DVD, cable movie channel world, Dorothy’s adventure in Oz was family viewing often playing during special holidays on one of the three television channels received in those bygone days. The horror it must have inflicted!

Of course, I know the answer to that question: zero effect. It’s a story. It’s fiction. Kids understand vampires, flying monkeys or witches aren’t real and those who have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy have larger issues than reading a story book.

Inevitably it’s the overtly religious who are up in arms regarding whatever the kids are into these days. From Dungeons and Dragons to rock music to sparkly vampire movies, the fundamentalists and neo-christians always find their boogie man to scare stupid and ignorant parents and pliable politicians into some sort of action — banning, burning or worse.

There is no good argument for banning a book. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something — likely a Bible.