Thursday, December 20, 2007

Oh Good GRIEF.

To summarize the article above, the Toronto Catholic School Board has banned the Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass and its two sequels from school libraries for not being conducive to the Board's "governing values." A great deal has been written about the trilogy's so-called anti-religious themes, and about the author's atheism.

Let me start by saying, clearly, that I thought The Golden Compass was a wonderful, beautifully told story. The book is chalk-full of fantastic imagery, rich characters and deep imagination. I loved it.

But the issue is not about the quality of the story. And MY issue isn't really even about whether or not the books are anti-religious. My issue with this kind of book-banning, that is the kind that is intended to "spare" children from perspectives we don't want them to have, is that it assumes one really ridiculous thing. It assumes that our children are stupid. It assumes that our children will believe everything they read, that our children have no ability to separate reality from fiction, that a story can immediately overrun any other teaching that has been given to a child from the moment that child was born. It assumes that our children can't think critically, even that the act of thinking critically is bad. It assumes that children have no imagination.

It is a narrow-minded and short-sighted act, and it reeks of defensiveness.

And it BOTHERS me. I certainly understand that there are books/movies/TV shows out there that are not suitable for children, and I'm not suggesting that caution and care should not be exercised when deciding what children should be exposed to. BUT THIS IS A CHILDREN'S STORY, and a good one, at that. Yes, it's dark, and scary and frightening, at times. And the story is quite probably coloured by Philip Pullman's perspective on the world (and possibly on the church). But I have a hard time believing that he sat at his desk, hunched over, giggling to himself, saying, "Hee hee hee... I'll write this story and it will be clearly anti-church, and then all the kiddies will be atheists and then I'll take over the WORLD! BWAHAHA..."

If there could be a universal getting of a grip on this one, it would be good.


Towanda said...

Right on.

stealthdachshund said...

ANd it sure keeps 'em from developping those critical thinking skills, which means the moment they encounter anti-church writings, they'll be defenceless.

From The Podium said...

Did not the same thing happen with Harry Potter? Which I know is not the be all and end all of Children's books - but because of the "witchcraft" which it represented, it was also banned from Catholic, and other private schools.

It amazes me when adults can't distinguish fiction from reality, when children do it so well.

Great post.

Diane said...

if we start censoring, we would end up censoring large parts of the Bible, too.

The Bible may be the Good Book, but's not always a Nice book.

spot on.