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Ban the Bible!Posted Saturday, April 17, 2010, at 8:23 PM
In the fall of 2006, Marshall's public library was in the midst of a controversy about removing two books from its shelves. "Blankets" and "Fun Home" are graphic novels that some residents found offensive. Here is just one of the stories on that debate: www.marshallnews.com/story/1171005.html.
Public comment was allowed at a hearing in October 2006; what follows here is the text of my remarks. At the time, I worked for the paper, but I was not a reporter. I have twice been accused, unfairly, I believe, of advocating the banning of the Bible on the basis of these remarks. Judge for yourself.
If we are going to decide what others can read, or not read, then we cannot begin with "Blankets" or "Fun Home," the books being challenged tonight.
There is another book, which, based on its contents, poses far more danger to children than these two largely autobiographical works.
The book I am speaking of discusses the range of human sexual behavior and misbehavior, including adultery, nudity, multiple marriage, and prostitution. Contained within its covers are graphic descriptions of the attempted murder of a child by his own father, murder among brothers, the unfair trial and brutal murder of a peace-loving religious leader, violent warfare, even witchcraft.
This book is no doubt found in this and every library in this country, and is the foundation of religious cults the world over, some of which have been considered dangerous and subversive. It is sold in every bookstore. It is easily available online for free. It consistently reaches the bestseller lists, outselling every author from Grisham to Clancy, and has been translated into untold numbers of languages. It's been around for hundreds and hundreds of years -- we know it as The Holy Bible.
Obviously, I'm being facetious. Getting the Bible banned is a job no one would undertake, at least no one in his or her right mind, and I'm not suggesting that here. What I am suggesting, actually insisting on, is that no book should be removed from any library for any reason. As Americans, we are committed to free speech and a free press, and that includes the ability, some might go so far as to say the DUTY, to allow the presentation of ideas and thoughts of whatever nature to be presented for all to investigate, evaluate, and accept or discard according to their own principles.
Now, I am just one small person in the world and in history, and others more intelligent and certainly more famous than I have had a great deal to say about censorship, so I will give you their thoughts:
Claude-Adrien Helvétius, French philosopher: To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves.
Potter Stewart, Justice of the Supreme Court: Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.
Tommy Smothers, comedian: The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.
Henry Steele Commager, historian: The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.
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Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.