Friday, November 23, 2007

More silliness

*Sigh* Not again.

And this just after an attempt to ban a book in my own library system. A mother was angry because her 8-year-old read an 'inappropriate' graphic novel that was shelved and labeled as young adult. So maybe you should tell your 8-year-old child to stick to the juvenile section instead of trying to yank an entire series of graphic novels off the young adult shelves. Ever think of that, hmmmm?

So, according to a recent news article (thanks for the link Garden Girl), a Catholic School Board in Ontario has yanked Philip Pullman's Golden Compass trilogy from its school's shelves due to all the atheist controversy swirling around it.

First of all, it is my personal belief that it is almost NEVER acceptable to remove any book from library shelves. I do realize that because I work in a public library, it's a little easier for me to say that. I'm supposed to be a neutral party, promoting no one point of view over another (let's please not get into whether it's actually possible for a librarian to be completely neutral). A Catholic School Board however, by its very nature, is already biased. So when they come across a book that promotes atheism, I can see how it might draw some negative attention.

But does the Golden Compass trilogy promote atheism? Oh yeah, absolutely. I read and loved those books, and one of the reasons I loved them was because they were so critical of Christianity. I mean, they basically turn the Christian Creation Myth on its head. And I loved that because I've always found Christianity to be horribly misogynistic, what with the whole thing about Eve being the mother of all sin. And Pullman turned it around and basically said that original sin is good. Eve's a HERO for eating the fruit of knowledge. And I think that's fabulous. And the bad guys in this story were members of a religious organization which was basically a thinly disguised version of the Catholic Church. So I can see why Catholics might be upset.

But the thing to remember here, is that we're not talking about adults reading these books, but children. I was 23 when I first read these books. So yeah, I got all the biblical references and I knew exactly where Pullman was coming from. But a kid? Even a teen? I think maybe an older, thoughtful teen would pick up on the atheist sentiment, but otherwise I think most kids are going to read this book as an awesome adventure fantasy novel. Because that's exactly what it is.

When I was in Gr. 3, I read the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time. And I fell in love with them. I thought they were awesome. At that time, I went to the Anglican Church almost every Sunday, and I was fairly familiar with the story of Jesus. But did I get any of the Christian allegory?? Of course not. I just thought they were really good books. The parellels of Aslan allowing himself to be sacrificed on the stone table to save Edmund and Jesus allowing himself to be crucified to save humanity is something that only became obvious to me when I re-read the books when I was a lot older. Kids just aren't looking for these things, and they don't really care either.

The funny thing is, Philip Pullman absolutely hates the Chronicles of Narnia, seeing them as these horrible tools to indoctrinate children to Christianity at a young age. But I think he's being kind of silly. It didn't work on me. And I think if anyone, including Philip Pullman, thinks that the Golden Compass is going to churn out a whole generation of atheists, then they're dreaming.

Kids will, for the most part, just read it as a story. But I think the Catholic School Board has probably done the exact opposite of what they intended by removing the books from its shelves. Cuz now kids KNOW that there's something wrong with the books, something that adults don't want them to know. Now they're going to be curious. What's up with this book? And many more kids, who might not have picked up the book otherwise, are going to want to have a look. And they're going to be able to get ahold of it whether or not the silly Catholic School Board has it on its shelves or not.

And that basically sums up what I think of the whole thing:
Attempted Censorship = Silliness

Get a life peoples.


Library Lady said...

That would be the school district my library is in... Le sigh. Don't get me started... Don't judge us, just because of the stupid people in charge.

Violette said...

My sympathies library lady.