This PW poll on banning books made me twitch.
I assume it's supposed to be a light-hearted sort of question: if you could ban a book, which would it be and why? Whoever came up with it is playing off of the OJ controversy and (it would seem) is not a fan of Rosie O'Donnell, either.
Normally, that sort of thing is a party game, an icebreaker, or something you do to allieviate boredom on a long car ride - if you could have dinner with any historical figure, living or dead, who would it be? If you were trapped on a desert island and could only take five CDs, which would you choose?
But... "What books would you ban?"
It chills me to think someone in the industry is entertaining the idea at all, and encouraging others to do so. The majority of the responders seem to be as horrified as I am.
Not only is it an invitation (no matter how tongue-in-cheek) to promote banning - some people will take it as an endorsement of such - it's also mean-spirited, calling on readers to throw out titles of books they didn't like and presumably trash them.
I know. The name of this blog is "Books That Don't Suck." Chances are, at some point, I'll say something mean about those books that I believe do suck. I hope that when that day comes I can balance my snark with honest criticism, not just bitchiness for bitchiness' sake.
Actually, as the title states, I'd much rather talk about books that don't suck - titles I enjoyed, that I think others could fall into and pass around ("Hey, have you read this? You should!")
But I will never, ever, encourage the banning of a book. Will I question why this or that got published? Or why fifty thousand readers are drooling over something I find to be complete drivel? Yes. I still won't suggest a book be banned, no matter how bad I think it is. Chances are, if I think something's bad, it's either poorly written (by my admittedly snobby standards) or in poor taste.
Perhaps the person who thought up this question for the daily talkback poll thought readers would chuckle and have a good time with it. What he or she neglected to consider, though, is what banning a book implies.
If you ban a book, you're saying no one should be able to read it. No one should be allowed to crack it open, read the words, and make their own decisions about the material contained within. You're saying it shouldn't be in libraries, it shouldn't be in bookstores, it shouldn't be in any place people can find it. You're deciding what is appropriate or inappropriate for someone else, taking that choice away from them.
Had the poll question been "Which book do you wish you'd never read?" I wouldn't be so peeved. There are several books I've read where I've turned the last page and said, "I want those six hours back." But for someone to ask us to suggest that books should be banned because they weren't to our liking? Never.
That's not okay. That's not cute. That's not funny.