Why oppose banning books and free speech? – Seacoastonline.com

These days, I sometimes question the value of the First Amendment: freedom of speech. When I watch movies on Netflix and every other word is profanity, for instance. Or when the president tells four dynamic recently elected women in the U.S. House of Representatives to go back to where you came from, or denounces a major American city for being rat-infested as a cover for his racist beliefs. Why does our society have to endure such unfair, ugly uses of words?

But of course, the consequences of banning free speech would be unendurable, and undemocratic. Our countrys founders knew that. If we legalized limitations, think of the tyranny that would result. Only specific books and speeches would be allowed, and they could be fascistic or bigoted. Every controversial idea could be labeled subversive as a means of controlling thought! The creative possibilities of art and literature might never be developed!

So while we may fantasize a time without an embarrassingly crude and hateful speaker in the White House, we do not want to consider a time where books are banned from schools and libraries because of the damage free thought might cause in our thinking and actions. And it is this freedom of speech and freedom to read and freedom from censorship that we annually celebrate during Banned Book Week. This year, we will honor those rights on September 24 at Water Street Book Store at Banned Book Night, co-sponsored by the bookstore and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

Six local readers will read segments from six banned or challenged books. Each reader has chosen a book from a huge list of books, and this year, the choices show an interesting pattern: four of the books are by and about black lives, and a fifth is about book banning by burning! It seems to me that the news of the year is influencing these readers choices. Discriminatory practices, racist talk at high levels: they often lead readers to explore more fully writers such as James Baldwin and Nobel Prize winner, the late Toni Morrison and books such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Their Eyes Are Watching God, Go Tell It On the Mountain, and The Bluest Eye. And Ray Bradburys fascinating Fahrenheit 451 illustrates the outcome of banning books and limiting free thought!

In addition to the emphasis on books dealing with race in our local program this year, national reports show that books dealing with LGBTQ topics have been most frequently banned and challenged in 2019, even including childrens books. And Tango Makes Three is among those, and it, too, will be highlighted in our Exeter event.

The public is invited to attend readings from these banned books by Paul Durham, author of young adult and childrens books; Leslie Haslam, director of Exeter Adult Education; Eileen Flockhart, local activist and former state representative; PEA student Liam Ahern; PEA Diversity and Inclusion Director Stephanie Bramlett; and Joe Pace, chair of Kensington Board of Selectmen and area political activist. Join in the conversation about whether there should ever be book banning or limits on free speech. Some banned books will be raffled. Refreshments will be served.

Pat Yosha is a resident of Exeter and is the facilitator of the Banned Book Night at the Water Street Bookstore.

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Why oppose banning books and free speech? - Seacoastonline.com

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