Friday, September 26, 2008

The Benefit of the Doubt

I was probably going to sit down at this keyboard and continue a rant against banning books, but then a series of events coincided to lighten my mood. Chief among them: the season premieres of "The Office" and "ER" last night, followed by a new episode of "The Daily Show" with Bob Schieffer, the cutest man in television news as a guest. I mean cute in the laughing, elfin way, not in the Anderson Cooper way. Then this morning we drove to the school bus stop due to pouring rain and the kids literally rocked the minivan, jumping and dancing to Metro Station's "Shake It." It's difficult to be bitter with 12 hours full of such life-affirming goodness right behind me. So I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to people who attempt to ban books.

The books most often challenged are those marketed to children, and it is important to bear in mind that people who challenge books usually do so with the good intention to protect children. That said, I love this quote from Clare Booth Luce, "Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, should end there." Back when I was teaching Shakespeare's Macbeth to high school juniors, I had a student whose parents did not want him to study the play due to all of the witchcraft in it. I remember there was some eyerolling about this in the faculty room. I don't doubt I was among the eyerollers. But when I think about it now, I really admire those parents. They exercised their right to choose what their son was exposed to without denying other students access to that material.

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