Jan 31, 2007

Banning Books in Toronto - the last refuge of the cowardly

Now, I fully acknowledge that there are books that either hurt me, disappoint me, or offend my sensibilities to such a degree that I let loose a rant of such eardrum-shattering verbosity that my partner has lost all her hearing in one ear. However, to play both sides, I would never take the stance that others have no right to read it.

Censorship based on personal mores is never a good thing. Free speech, etc, all that stuff which I whole-heartedly agree with. We are Canadians, we value the opinions of others. We brag about this constantly.

Well, not all of us. In an act of extreme cowardice, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board has removed from shelves a copy of Snow Falling on Cedars, the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel by David Guterson. All this at the behest of one solitary parent who whined to the board about sexual content.

Now, there's nothing new I can add to the argument against such narrow-minded censorship, except to add that this example pales next to the irony of the Fahrenheit 451 debacle in Texas from late 2006. Yet I will say that the board's claiming that they have not made a final decision is, for the moment, a moot argument. A book removed from the shelves cannot be read, whether it is banned or not. And caving in the pressure of one individual without a thought to the greater ramifications of such an act show a timidity towards bullies that should never be tolerated.

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