No Offense, but …

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsAs we run head­long toward the Christ­mas sea­son, and leave behind what has felt like a sea­son of cen­sor­ship, my thoughts incline toward the most con­tentious book ever writ­ten. Its pages are teem­ing with witch­es, sor­cer­ers, drunk­ards, despots, tyrants, thieves, and prostitutes—offensive, all. Much of its sub­ject mat­ter is even worse: rape, incest, infan­ti­cide, slav­ery, Satanism, and sodomy are on the list. Mur­der and adul­tery are front and cen­ter.  War and pesti­lence take their place. Cir­cum­ci­sion and cas­tra­tion come up for dis­cus­sion. As for sex­u­al intimacy—whether het­ero­sex­u­al or homosexual—well let’s just say, there are pas­sages in this book that would, as they say, make a grown man blush.

SpeakOne might well ask if chil­dren, or even young adults should be exposed to such lit­er­a­ture.  After all, its lan­guage is strong, and its themes are often, let’s see, mature?  Ques­tion­able? Dis­taste­ful?  In oth­er words, there is noth­ing safe about this book.  It is not age appro­pri­ate, or polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect.  And yet, many par­ents would be hap­py to find this book in their teen’s back­pack.  In fact, they might be the ones to place it there. Scan­dalous, isn’t it?

TricksAm I talk­ing about Har­ry Pot­ter and the Death­ly Hol­lows by J.K. Rawl­ings? Speak by Lau­rie Halse Ander­son? Tricks by Ellen Hop­kins  No, not even close. Their books’ so-called offens­es pale by comparison.

What am I talk­ing about? The next time you hear of any­one chal­leng­ing or attempt­ing to cen­sor a book for chil­dren or young adults, ask them if they’ve ever read the Holy Bible. If they say they haven’t, sug­gest that they do. And here’s an idea:  start the con­ver­sa­tion off with the words “No offense, but.” See where the con­ver­sa­tion goes from there. It should be interesting.

3 Responses

  1. The per­fect answer. When par­ents take the time to dis­cuss with their chil­dren the prob­lems of cer­tain lit­er­a­ture, the chil­dren are pre­pared to make bet­ter deci­sions. Scrip­ture says if we teach our chil­dren when they are young…

  2. Right on, Nikki!
    You could­n’t be more on tar­get. I stayed up late last night re-read­ing the Book of Esther, a favorite of mine. In the end of this sto­ry of the tri­umph of the beau­ti­ful, sweet, god­ly, Jew­ish wife of King Xerx­es, there is bloody may­hem. The Jews were allowed to kill more than 75 thou­sand peo­ple, (who would have elim­i­nat­ed the Jews, if it were not for Esther and Mor­da­cai’s influ­ence on the King.) The thing that’s hard to take in our minds is that this mas­sacre became a joy­ful, year­ly hol­i­day for Jew­ish peo­ple, cel­e­brat­ed with feasts and gifts of food to one another! 

    So, it’s just as you said: “Ques­tion­able? Dis­taste­ful? In oth­er words, there is noth­ing safe about this book. It is not age appro­pri­ate, or polit­i­cal­ly correct.” 

    I agree with you. And I know that I need to under­stand what you referred to when you said: “…what has felt like a sea­son of cen­sor­ship…” to ful­ly appre­ci­ate the impact of your com­par­i­son of cen­sor­ing a book today, to the strong sub­ject mat­ter of the mes­sages and sto­ries in the Bible. Hope I am mak­ing sense.
    Thanks for send­ing the pho­tos from your birth­day bash! Love, Mary Lou T

  3. Seri­ous­ly. Those who wield the Bible as a rea­son to jus­ti­fy their cen­sor­ship argu­ments seem to have lost touch with the big­ger sto­ry they’re invit­ed to be part of, the real­i­ty that sto­ry’s essen­tial to learn­ing to be human, and that we live life out­side the garden.

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