The Return of the Book Burners
Back in January, 2002 I wrote about attempts to remove the Harry Potter books from school libraries. Now that the movie, The Golden Compass, is about to be released, those who want to ban childrens' books are back at it. Across North America, various Catholic school boards are considering removing the His Dark Materials trilogy from school libraries. A variety of fundamentalist and evangelical Christian groups, including those who claim the Pope is the anti-Christ, have joined in to call for boycotts of the books and the movie.
Actually, given that the books are perceived as anti-Catholic, it is perhaps surprising that they were in Catholic school libraries to begin with. The Golden Compass may have been on the shelves for dozen years. There were some protests earlier which I wrote about, but they gained no momentum.
Should children's books with an anti-religious theme be banned? Mark Morford recently wrote in the San Francisco Gate:
"If your ancient, authoritarian, immutable belief system is truly threatened by a handful of popular novels, if your ostensibly all-powerful, unyielding creed is rendered meek and defenseless when faced with the story of a fiery, rebellious young girl who effortlessly rejects your stiff misogynistic religiosity in favor of adventure, love, sex, the ability to discover and define her soul on her own terms, well, it might be time for you to roll it all up and shut it all down and crawl back home, and let the divine breathe and move and dance as she sees fit."
I think that makes a good point. If organized religion cannot stand up to a work of fiction, then it should just close up shop.
I'm not going to suggest that school boards don't have the right to determine which books should be in the library. But basic psychology should tell them that the one way to guarantee a book will be read by a child who would not otherwise pick it up is to ban it.
- A quotation from a review on Barnes & Noble
"As soon as this book became controversial in the U.S. (a few weeks back when the upcoming movie was announced), e-mails were sent out to avoid these books and this movie at all costs. This was just enough for my teenage son, my friends, and I to rush out and buy the books."
- Amazon.com may have, at present, the best price for the trilogy.