Perhaps, as Banned Books Week gets underway, you are one of the many people around the world who believe it is dangerous to let writers publish ideas that conflict with yours. Maybe You’re a parent who’s signed a petition to have a book removed from the school curriculum. Or a citizen who’s lobbied to keep a novel out of your public library.
I support your right to read what you choose. In return, I ask only this: do not presume to speak for me.
Perhaps I am a teenager growing up in a house filled with prejudice and intolerance. I may be blind to wider possibilities, to the acceptance of others (perhaps even of you), and may be ready to carry those views with me into the world as an adult. Maybe, just maybe, as our class studies Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird (one of the most challenged novels ever), I may come to see that other possibilities exist. That I do not need to perpetuate the bigotry of my surroundings. Do not presume to speak for me.
Perhaps I am a parent whose child is struggling at school. He reads a couple of grade levels behind his classmates and is becoming frustrated and apathetic, convinced that school is a waste of time. Maybe, just maybe, he’s discovered a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the library shelves and, for the first time ever, is enthused about the delights to be found in a book. His reading skills (and confidence) are improving. Do not presume to speak for me.
Perhaps I am someone who needs help explaining to my child that families come in many shapes and sizes. Maybe, just maybe, she is confused that her friend has two dads. Or that her own family has two mothers. Instead of avoiding the reality she encounters every day (a reality that will not disappear even if no authors write about it), maybe it will ease her mind if we sit down together with a copy of And Tango Makes Three. Do not presume to speak for me.
I understand we may have different tastes, different views of history, and a different tolerance for strong language. Perhaps even different beliefs on politics or religion. I accept those differences and support your right to voice them. But when it comes to deciding what I should or should not read, do not dare presume to speak for me.
In the United States, September 25 to October 2 marks Banned Books Week. In Canada, Freedom to Read Week takes place February 20 through 26, 2011. If your own freedom to choose is important to you, think about clicking some links and finding out about the many events taking place, both online and in your area.