The Banned Books Week site at the ALA.org says this:
“Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.”
There’s never been any major discovery, no great invention created until a question was asked. It’s that quest for knowledge that makes humans human. It’s what’s so beautiful about us – we want to know.
When I go into the library with my children, I’m telling them learning is important. That asking questions is central to having answers, to filling their souls with things that get them through from the names of the planets to some quote they’ll never forget once read in a book that will change their lives in small or large ways.
When I say, “I think you’re a bit too young for this book, let’s choose another that might be a bit better,” I’m making choices for MY child without taking away choices for someone else’s child. I’m telling my children that they are important to me. When they read a book and they come to me and ask questions, when I struggle but give them honest and hopefully age appropriate answers, I don’t make knowledge illicit, I create boundaries. In short, I’m doing my job as a parent. It’s not the library’s job to shape my children’s minds, it’s mine as their mother. It’s not my next door neighbor’s job – a woman who has vastly different values from my own and values I wouldn’t choose to teach my own children. So I respect her right to teach her children her values but I don’t respect it when she tries to get Harry Potter removed from the school library.
Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of American democracy. It’s the first amendment to our constitution. It’s part of our national identity and history. I care about censorship because I care about knowledge. I care that your values are your own and my values are my own. I care to make my own choices about what to read and what my children read and I don’t care to let anyone else make those choices.
I care because trite as it may seem – knowlege is power and as Trinity says to Neo in the Matrix – It’s the question that drives us.