Banned books and censorship

26 Sep

As Banned Books Week comes to a close, bookish types everywhere give thanks for media freedom and our fragile liberation from oppressive morality and people deciding what’s ‘good’ for us, and what’s not. In the last 6 months I’ve read Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s gripping dystopia about a world where books are banned and Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner, which is (almost inexplicably) on this list of most challenged books of the last year, and I am genuinely grateful that the former has not yet proven prophetic and I was able to read the latter.

But, here in Australia, there’s been a bittersweet irony to the week’s quiet celebrations. The politicians might not be burning our books, but they are sure keeping us in the dark.

It’s been the week of announcing we will not be told about the boats. We will not be told about climate change. We will not be given equitable access to universities. Our internet access will be limited, compared to the rest of the world.

One might start to think that this black cloak over information and learning has begun the same way that any state censorship does: it is not in our government’s interests for us to know anything.

Burning books it ain’t, but as we gleefully read our banned books, we should perhaps look up from the pages and see that our understanding of the world is being shaped by a more subtle and insidious censorship.

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