So, now that we’ve explored the different angles of Banned Books Week (well… three. I only have a week and writing for this website is a part-part-part time gig) It’s time to think of action. So, what can you do to be a proper rabble-rouser and ensure free access for all and that banning books are a bad thing? Bad Shakespeare is here to help.
-The most obvious, of course, is to not ban a book, or complain when you see someone reading a book. I mean, getting a book banned is a very deliberate act, you aren't going to do it accidentally. So I guess this falls under the universal guide for living, “Don’t ruin it for everyone else.”
-Read a banned book. You may be disappointed to find that they aren’t as salacious as you would like. See the television show South Park for an excellent example of just how disappointing banned books can be when it comes to sex and violence.
-Give someone a banned book. “The Hunger Games” is on that list. Chances are that you have given someone a banned book without even knowing it. But go deeper. Actively give someone a banned book and say, “hey, this is so good it’s illegal.” The second you make something illegal, it goes way up in demand, if my time at the Economics Department at George Mason has taught me anything.
-Support your local library. I know, I know. Right now you don’t even have to leave your couch if you want to watch a movie and get a pizza. Google will provide you with a billion pages on the subject that you are looking for. Kindles, Nooks, and Ipads (sorry Kobo users) create a world where you can literally download any book, ever, and a lot of the classics are free. But libraries aren't just about books, they’re also about a sense of community of going to a place and learning something. These are the places that are under attack when you hear of a book being removed from the shelves for being “too awesome” as I've proven with my previous two statements.
-Keep an open mind. This means completely open. This means not just supporting the crazy, wacky ideas that you love, but also supporting the crazy, wacky ideas that you hate. The First Amendment wasn't created to protect popular speech. Everyone can nod their head and get behind me when I say that Firefly may have been the best show ever created. But when someone says, Firefly sucks, that is the person that needs protection, because they are taking the least popular view. Our Founding Fathers (and noted Firefly fans) loved their free speech. In fact, that was the first thing they thought of when founding our country. Minds are like bear traps. The second they close, they become deadly.
-Speak up against censorship. Earlier this year, a group called “One Million Moms” spoke out against one of my favorite comic books, because it dared to show a gay man as a superhero (THE HUMANITY!) Throwing aside that there aren't anywhere close to “One Million” of them, I wrote a rather nice piece about how I felt this changed nothing about the Green Lantern. I did this because I had a forum. I try to reach as many people as I can with this blog, and I will continue to do so until I can no longer type, or the machines cut off access to the internet before the Robot-Human war. That’s one way I will continue to speak against censorship of any kind. You find your way to do it. It can be as simple as attending the PTA meeting to talk those out of censorship. Just do something. Those Firefly Fans I mentioned that started this country did so because they took an active role.
-Be respectful. I can talk a big game, but just be nice to each other. There’s no need to resort to name calling or hateful speech because someone disagrees. Remember, no one sets out to say, “I’m going to ban this book today.” They are banning something they are afraid of, and we have to respect that before we can talk to them, explain that not everyone will have the same reaction as them. It’s easier to see eye to eye with someone if you’re not trying to shout over them. Bill and Ted said it best: “Be excellent to each other.”