When Does Censoring Books Gone Too Far?

How Cancel Culture Plays a Part in Censoring Books.
when does censoring books gone too far
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The recent controversy surrounding Dr. Seuss's books has been a hot topic for debate these past few weeks. Six of Dr. Seuss's books - such as If I Ran the Zoo and The Cat's Quizzer - are to cease publication as the Dr. Seuss Enterprise deemed them to contain insensitive imagery and racism. It started a discussion of whether or not our society had gone too far with censoring material it wasn't comfortable with.

What I believe Dr. Seuss Enterprise should've done is take the opportunity to educate children and familys' alike on the subject of racism and how detrimental the imagery can be to those individuals. Dr. Seuss was a product of his own time, not to say he was right to use those words to describe different racial groups, but shouldn't be canceled for his past. It begs the question, what does banning books do for our society? 


What is Censorship?

Censorship is the state of suppressing any form of entertainment or media such as books, film, and news seen as politically incorrect, obscene, or endangerment to society. 

In our society, countless books have been banned or removed from public libraries for a variety of reasons based on them containing explicit material, language, violence, racial insensitivity, etc. There is even a website that documents the attempts, successful or not, of banning popular and classic books. Browsing around I saw plenty of books on that list I read either as a child or adult, books I wouldn't have given a 2nd thought to being so-called "problematic."

Censoring books is never the best way to teach people, especially children, the rights and wrongs of the world. I believe because society has let cancel culture become this phenomenon, censoring novels has become even more rampant.

What is Cancel Culture?

Cancel culture is similar to censorship but means to demean a person for their past or present behaviors that could've been inappropriate, sexist, racist, or any other form of misconduct. The goal is to bring awareness about these behaviors and humiliate the person enough where they remove themselves from society or the workforce. 

In some cases cancel culture has brought justice to people's lives such as sexually abused women who through the new phenomenon can publicly call out their accusers and let the law handle it. A lot of women in the past wouldn't have publicly accused their abusers because of the ramifications that could have derailed their careers or relationships. 2021 is a different world but we still have much to work through to become a better society for the next generation. And while cancel culture does bring about things to light it can be used in such aggressive ways, manipulating the public to "cancel" people or entertainment because a few people disagree with what they see.

Take for instance the controversy of Captain Underpants. I remember reading those books as a kid in middle school and enjoying the adventures the characters undertook. It was cited as having inappropriate language, violence, partial nudity, and misbehavior. The partial nudity comes from the made-up Captain Underpants superhero who runs around saving the day in his underwear, mind you created by two fourth-grade boys, who will eventually turn into a real superhero after hypnotizing their mean principal. There is humor in that plus it is all written in innocent fun, however to some parents it was cause for an uproar in banning the book from public schools. 

Censorship in public schools over books such as To Kill A Mockingbird or Uncle Tom's Cabin lends to the discussion of what exactly is the school board afraid of?

Learning about racism, sexism, misogyny, and other societal issues will always be important and the younger generation should have the option to openly have discussions about these topics.

Do those books contain prejudices that our world is still trying to get through? Yes, they do, but it's equally important to understand the timeframe of when those books were made and why it is wrong to have those prejudices in today's world. How else will people learn about correcting the past if we don't allow ourselves the privilege of reading controversial books? As Dr. Seuss himself said,

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

Fan of literary fiction novels, green tea, roller skating, and watching dog videos.

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