Lisa Howorth published her first novel Flying Shoes this spring to great acclaim. Not only is she co-owner of the wonderful Square Books here in town, but she also once worked at the LCOPL.
Censorship is a sticky question. Freedom of speech is very important , but just as important is the protection of the innocence of children. This is not so much a problem with books, but TV, film, and social media have gotten impossible for parents to monitor. Children can’t unsee a beheading, an incomprehensible sex act, or a graphic selfie. (And neither can I.) But books—words—are somewhat different, and I don’t believe in banning them, but where children are concerned, I do believe that parents, teachers and librarians have a responsibility to provide guidance and select books appropriately. This is where the stickiness lies. For instance, I want my novel to be available in the public library, but it doesn’t belong in a middle school library, and perhaps it’s too “adult” for many high school students. But I trust librarians, who know better than I, to make these decisions. It’s worth remembering that Hitler was one of the greatest book-banners in history—someone who found it just as easy to extinguish people as books. On the other hand, although freedom of speech is guaranteed to us by the First Amendment to our Constitution, our forefathers could never have envisioned what we in the 21st century would be putting out there for the general public, in the same way that they never could have foreseen what we now do with guns. To say that our society and values are the same as men who provided guidance to us more than 200 years ago is ridiculous, and says that we learn nothing from generation to generation. These issues must be re-evaluated all the time. If you begin banning books, where does it end? Someone could say, for example, that the Bible is too full of apalling violence, racism, baby-killing, bullying, genocide, slavery, monsters or sex for a particular group, or library. So verily I say unto you, we need to proceed with caution, informed intelligence, and the lessons of history.
Thank you so much, Lisa!