This past weekend a friend of mine that I haven’t heard from in years sent me a package. In it was a letter wrapped around a box containing . . . an oven liner. Why, I wonder, did she want to give me an oven liner? I did put it into my oven, since it covered up all the spills. I was probably supposed to clean that up first, but why clean it if no one can see it? I feel the same way about making the bed. When my MIL was looking after the girls during my recovery, she had them make up their beds each morning. Needless to say that habit has been abandoned. I simply don’t care whether or not they make their beds. I’ve tried to care, in the name of Instilling Good Habits. I am probably contributing to their moral deterioration.
Speaking of moral corruption, I’m editing a manuscript about the author Robert Cormier. It’s part of a series for young adults on banned books. I’ve never read Comier, but the titles are familiar—I Am the Cheese, The Chocolate War. The manuscript gives some background on censorship in general and a list of court cases that have tried to remove various books from public and school libraries and school curricula. That sort of information just makes me want to kick something. I will never grasp the desire to dam the free flow of ideas.
What did/do people object to in Cormier? Well, he uses naughty words. Then some people object to The Chocolate War because it suggests that children can’t trust adults, and some object to I Am the Cheese because it suggests you can’t trust the government. Gee, let me hold my sides so I don’t split open. Here there is an ongoing attempt by a concerned mom to get the Harry Potter books off public library shelves. She’s welcome to keep them away from her own children, but I would like mine to be able to check them out of the library. On the other hand, no one is trying to remove Ann Coulter from the shelves. Go figure.
Still, I suppose I can relate to a desire to protect children from some of the baser ideas floating around--such as consumerism, greed, sexism, racism, recreational violence, blind patriotism and the like. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy afoot to induct my children into the dark arts. There is, however, a concerted effort to make them good consumers and compliant citizens.
The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame. - Oscar Wilde