It's hard to believe in 2018 that we're still having to push back against the impulse to ban ideas that make us uncomfortable. More than 2,400 years ago, Socrates was executed for "refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state" and thereby "corrupting the youth."
If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because those intolerances of differing religious views that challenge the current orthodoxy and expand the minds of youth are reasons given for banning Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird and dozens more.
Thankfully we have local booksellers like Alice Hutchinson of Byrd's Books and Joel Orton of The Relay Bookhouse who tirelessly fight back against the tides of ignorance and intolerance, through education and outreach or just by stocking a wide range of books representing a wide range of ideas and beliefs.
In 2017, according to the American Library Association, the following books were banned somewhere in America. Not North Korea or Russia or Iran, but America.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — Mark Twain
The Autobiography of Malcolm X — Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Beloved — Toni Morrison
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee — Dee Brown
The Call of the Wild — Jack London
Catch-22 — Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye — J.D. Salinger
Fahrenheit 451 — Ray Bradbury
For Whom the Bell Tolls — Ernest Hemingway
Gone With the Wind — Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath — John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Howl — Allen Ginsberg
In Cold Blood — Truman Capote
Invisible Man — Ralph Ellison
The Jungle — Upton Sinclair
Leaves of Grass — Walt Whitman
Moby-Dick — Herman Melville
Native Son — Richard Wright
Our Bodies, Ourselves — Boston Women's Health Book Collective
The Red Badge of Courage — Stephen Crane
The Scarlet Letter — Nathaniel Hawthorne
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male — Alfred C. Kinsey
Stranger in a Strange Land — Robert A. Heinlein
A Streetcar Named Desire — Tennessee Williams
Their Eyes Were Watching God — Zora Neale Hurston
To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee
Uncle Tom's Cabin — Harriet Beecher Stowe
Where the Wild Things Are — Maurice Sendak
The Words of Cesar Chavez — Cesar Chavez
We urge our readers to go to your local book seller or library, get one of these books and read it because the best cure for intolerance and ignorance is education and reflection.
Be a true American patriot and read one of these classics.
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