The Implications of Banning Books


Amy Athing, Contributor

Banning books. In the most mild cases, it’s a controversy, but history warns us that book banning is the work of something far more sinister. 

Luckily, here in the United States, we are protected from having books outright banned by the government, as doing so would be a violation of the First Amendment. However, institutions do have the ability to ban books, subtly or not so, within their organization. Most commonly, we see school boards exercising their ability to ban books, censor, or simply remove books from the curriculum.

The topic of book banning has come back into question recently as a result of a Tennessee school board unanimously voting to ban Maus, a Pulitzer prize-winning graphic novel meant to teach children about the Holocaust. After the vote was cast, the author of the novel, Art Spiegelman, made a statement criticizing the board’s reasoning. 

In the past, books such as The Hunger Games and Harry Potter have been banned by school boards, usually under the terms that they promote “the occult and anti-family themes.” While that was news then, banning a book such as Maus, a book exploring a historical event, seems to ring a little differently with the public. Is there a difference between banning a book whose main purpose is to entertain vs. banning a book with historical implications? Which, furthermore, begs the question, is book banning ever okay?

In a survey of Bob Jones students, 57% of students said that they believe book banning may be okay in some school cases, if the book’s content could be dangerous or is purposefully wrong. Only one person out of 40 respondents said that book banning was okay, citing the same reasons many thought it was okay in some cases. 

With the history book banning has, it’s right for people to take the banning of any book, and the reasons for, very seriously. Though, with the criticism Tennessee has been getting in light of the recent banning, one could hope there’s always something good that comes out of something negative like book banning. Since the decision, Maus has experienced a spike in sales and people have been donating copies to Tennessee public libraries.

As it is, in the eyes of the public, banning books is something that should rarely happen. If ever another book is so controversially banned, we should expect backlash and public support for those affected by the ban.