Monday, April 14, 2014

Banning and Freedom

Banning is a sticky situation.  It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of thing.  One on hand, restaurants should be able to have a dress code, but on the other, towns and cities shouldn’t be able to tell their citizens what to wear and how to speak.  But books, on the other hand, should not be banned.  As Madeline L’Engle suggests in her interview with Bob Abernathy, the act of banning itself is much more dangerous than the material it prohibits.   

In his essay, A Wrinkle in Faith, Donald Hettinga, he quotes L’Engle as saying, “if we take the Bible literally we don’t have to take it seriously” (5).  L’Engle’s gripe with Christian readers (and I’m sure most readers for that matter) is that they take thing too literally.  She says that by focusing on the literal aspects of the Bible, people often miss the spiritual significance.  The same can be said for banning profane or complex literature.  If we look at L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time and only see overt Christian teaching, or immoral clashing of science and religion, we miss the implicit themes of love, strength, perseverance, and the power of the human spirit.  This same method applies not only to literature, but life as well.  If we ban saggy pants, or tattoos, or certain language, we miss the beauty of individual creativity and expression.  Of course, there is a fine line between allowing complete freedom and individuality, and allowing anarchy to ensue.  It seems nearly impossible to deem what is “okay” and what is not. 

In modern terms, freedom is known as independence from rules.  In our society, we see freedom as being unrestrictive, as emancipatory.  Because of this viewpoint, when we do face rules and regulations, we feel trapped and confined by what we “can’t” do.  Maybe this is the problem with banning, and why is elicits such a rise from those in favor of or against it.  Perhaps we should take a cue from the ancient concept of freedom, in which people feel free because of the rules that hold them in place.  This way, as L’Engle suggests, we’ll stop taking things so literally, and begin to see the beauty of what surrounds us, even if we are opposed to it.   

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