Why book bans are dangerous?

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Chiara Amodeo, Staff Writer

The beginning of 2022 saw a dramatic increase in censorship and book bans in the domain of public education, particularly on books related to gender, sexuality, and race.  

These bans, or petitions for bans, came from parents of students, many challenging the books for content depicting topics seen as too politically controversial for school.  This surge was met with much backlash, as book bans in themselves are a highly challenged topic.  While some are in favor of removing controversial content, many more people are against it because it limits  free speech and personal choice, extending to educational settings like school libraries.  But just why are book bans in schools and libraries so dangerous and concerning? 

“Because it robs students of the opportunity to come to their own conclusions and develop their own ideas.  Students need these tools in order to navigate the world,” said English teacher Ms. Danielle Lally.  

Beyond the suffocation of other viewpoints, the practice of book banning is also damaging and isolating to students whose identities are being seen as unfit for children to read about.  

“I think banning books takes away resources for students to learn about topics that they might not learn about in any classes, and it’s wrong for administrators to decide what students should be able to read based on their own viewpoints,” said junior Lara Janoff.  

Banning books ignores the inevitable consequences of prohibiting media with opposing viewpoints to a conservative stance.  Exposure and education directly lead to the increased acceptance of minorities and world issues, which are so important in society today.  

“Banning books is dangerous because it denies people of information.  Regardless of the content, in a free country, people should be allowed to learn about what they choose; whether it is deemed acceptable by the government or not,” said junior Alison Epstein.  

Book bans have, for a long time, been known to be the results of outrage from parents in opposition to books deemed dangerous and damaging to a student’s psyche.

For example, in 1966, Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird was banned in the town of Hanover, VA due to challenges against its language and content regarding racist viewpoints.  

Regarded as the first major protest against a book in schools, this challenge, and resulting ban, came from progressive political stances concerned about the harmful views shown in it. 

 While removing outdated content with racist or highly offensive language and ideas could seem like it would have no negative impact, the repercussions still exist and tie into why book bans are dangerous.  

Erasing past discrimination and glossing history, as stated by multiple students interviewed, is something that simply does not work.  Instead of erasing history, these book bans ignore past prejudices and deny the younger generations a proper education on how to prevent repeating the mistakes of our past.

“I think trying to cover up any part of history at all is damaging to all of us.  It’s important that we learn from our past mistakes, not cover them up to save face in the present moment,” said freshman Dante Del Vecchio.  

To ignore and erase history, including mass tragedies and discrimination, is to deprive society of opportunity to learn from the past and ensure that the likes will not reoccur in the future.

What is unlike previous waves of book bans, however, is that this recent surge is much more political than previous challenges.  Authors of books, and school librarians whose libraries contain challenged books, are even facing criminal accusations for the content of these books, according to The New York Times.  

“People would rather ban books than guns,” said sophomore Tyga Weber.  

Focusing on banning books containing material considered controversial to some should not be taking priority in legal areas.  The potential of this trend continuing causes concern for reasons beyond the debatable morality behind book bans. 

The spike in book bans across the U.S. is a point of concern due to the danger and damage these successful bans, and even just attempted bans, entail.  

The practice of removing books negatively impacts students and children, not allowing them to get a full scope of the world due to curating what books are decidedly acceptable and what books are deemed too controversial; for reasons as standard as topics of race, gender, or sexuality.

Banning books for these reasons also further decreases representation for already marginalized groups, even adding to and perpetrating ostracization or isolation in social situations.  

“Banning books is bad because it prevents people from learning about unique perspectives on controversial topics.  Not banning books allows people to form their own viewpoints on things,” said junior Cooper Russo. 

While the bans are not yet widespread enough to be considered a national crisis, the trend is definitely something to keep an eye on and look out for in the future as the conversations continue on what information is being be permitted or censored in school settings.