In what seems like a page from Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451,” schools and universities across the United States have banned countless books from their catalog this year.
First Amendment activists have criticized state legislators for banning certain books, regardless of the political side that advocated for the banning.
Books are means for attaining more knowledge, but, more importantly, they are fundamental in bringing awareness to past struggles, problems and losses in history.
According to a Guardian article from March 2022, “Maus” author Art Spiegelman said that banning books leads to cultures erasing memories, which in turn would lead to the cultures doing the same thing again and again.
Without books, we are banning access to resources that may lead to conversation topics including race, gender and inequality. Books are a necessary tool to teach all generations the mistakes from the past and how to move forward in a healthy and peaceful way.
“You can’t ban books unless you’re willing to burn them and you can’t burn them all unless you’re willing to burn the writers and the readers too,” Spiegelman said.
Many American educators and faculty members were shocked to see such a large amount of beloved books suddenly restricted and then banned from access to students.
According to a Guardian article, the American Library Association (ALA) said that from September to November 2021, more than 330 books were reported for banning, which was over double the number for the entire year of 2020.
Both sides of the political aisle have shared their dislike with the book banning. Conservatives claim the act is unlawful because it infringes on the First Amendment, and progressives claim that targeted books tackle topics including past struggles of slavery, bigotry and social injustice, and leads to less awareness and more inequality moving forward.
According to a New York Times article from March 2022, author Laurie Halse Anderson said that attacking the books, authors and therefore subject matter is a means to removing any possibility for discourse.
“You are laying the groundwork for increasing bullying, disrespect, violence and attacks.” Anderson said.
School faculty members and civil rights activists agree that the surge in banning books is detrimental to the health and awareness of America’s next generations.
According to an Associated Press article from March 2022, Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, said the problem with state legislators banning books because of definitions of vulgarity and the lack of age appropriateness is that our definitions of these topics are “mushy” and are mostly used as an excuse to allow for government control over viewpoints.
Other authors share the opinion that limited access to books only corrupts and fails the next generation of students and members of society by limiting their opportunity for societal growth from our past mistakes.
Some authors argue the position of banning books is led by a feeling of humiliation of our greatest mistakes.
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame,” author Oscar Wilde said.