Letter: The problem with banning books

Graphic by Lori Deaton

There is a coordinated movement in many states and communities to ban a variety of books and materials from public schools and public libraries. This movement includes Asheville and the surrounding communities.

While I understand the value of restrictions and supervision that are appropriate at certain age levels, the outright banning of books is not only in and of itself dangerous, but it is against the principles of free speech as defined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. A truly great library has something that will offend anyone who surveys the library’s collection.

Many of these bans are a function of the fear of vulnerability and indoctrination on certain topics for elementary, middle school and even high school students. Thematically, the book banning seems to be primarily related to topics involving sexuality, race and violence. That being the case, I certainly would think these communities and states need to ban the Bible from public school libraries and local libraries, or certainly restrict their availability from younger readers.

Readers of the Bible experience from the very beginning two individuals who hardly know each other, exposing themselves to full-frontal nudity. It’s a book where slavery is condoned. There are frequent acts of ethnic discrimination, violence and murder, the slaughter of large masses of people. There’s frenzied Pagan worship. There’s kidnapping. There’s seduction. The polygamist Solomon speaks in poetic terms of a broad number of graphic sexual innuendos. And of course, in the central theme of the New Testament, a young unmarried teenage girl becoming impregnated without her knowledge or consent while she sleeps.

The point of this narrative is that when it comes to having access to various forms of content material that provide knowledge, common sense should prevail over politics and personal bias or belief. Knowledge is not harmful. It has great benefit. The banning of materials is based on the illusion that knowledge is harmful. What is important and valued by any individual or group of individuals may have little or no value or importance to someone else. And what one individual or group of individuals finds offensive, another individual or group of individuals will find desirable.

Public schools and public libraries should not be banning materials that are meant to inform and educate. Material on topics related to sexuality, race and violence must remain accessible to those who want and need access. That includes the Bible.

— Richard Boyum


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3 thoughts on “Letter: The problem with banning books

  1. gapple

    Were you okay when they banned Huckleberry Finn, Catcher and the Rye, 1984, To kill a Mockingbird, Anne Frank?

  2. Daniel Walton

    I agree with the central point against book banning, but I would encourage Mr. Boyum to return to his New Testament. Far from being impregnated “without her knowledge or consent,” Mary assents to carry Jesus with an active decision of will. See Luke 1:38: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it happen to me according to your word.”

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