Banned Books Week
This issue hit close to home this past spring as a school board member in Arlington Heights, Illinois, attempted to remove nine books from the library collection of Township High School District 214. Leslie Pinney cited sexual content, language, and violence as the source of her ire, but even the best-selling Freakanomics made her hit list. The authors' statistical correlation between legalized abortion and falling crime rates apparently contradicted her worldview and the district's students should therefore be shielded from such scholarship.
Why not subject her viewpoint and that of Steven Leavitt (co-author of Freakanomics) to the marketplace of ideas, where students themselves can weigh multiple perspectives and decide what constitutes the truth? Recent scholarship has emerged to contradict Leavitt's findings, and who is to say that an Arlington Heights student might not be inspired to do the same after encountering these arguments?
As citizens we have a duty to stand tall for academic freedom. Oppose book challenges in your community even when you disagree vehemently with the author, for the slippery slope may also threaten the titles you hold dear. Read controversial books to expand your worldview. Encourage your children to to consult a similarly diverse literary selection. Join the ALA in celebrating Banned Books Week.