As we run headlong toward the Christmas season, and leave behind what has felt like a season of censorship, my thoughts incline toward the most contentious book ever written. Its pages are teeming with witches, sorcerers, drunkards, despots, tyrants, thieves, and prostitutes—offensive, all. Much of its subject matter is even worse: rape, incest, infanticide, slavery, Satanism, and sodomy are on the list. Murder and adultery are front and center. War and pestilence take their place. Circumcision and castration come up for discussion. As for sexual intimacy—whether heterosexual or homosexual—well let’s just say, there are passages in this book that would, as they say, make a grown man blush.
One might well ask if children, or even young adults should be exposed to such literature. After all, its language is strong, and its themes are often, let’s see, mature? Questionable? Distasteful? In other words, there is nothing safe about this book. It is not age appropriate, or politically correct. And yet, many parents would be happy to find this book in their teen’s backpack. In fact, they might be the ones to place it there. Scandalous, isn’t it?
Am I talking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rawlings? Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson? Tricks by Ellen Hopkins No, not even close. Their books’ so-called offenses pale by comparison.
What am I talking about? The next time you hear of anyone challenging or attempting to censor a book for children or young adults, ask them if they’ve ever read the Holy Bible. If they say they haven’t, suggest that they do. And here’s an idea: start the conversation off with the words “No offense, but.” See where the conversation goes from there. It should be interesting.