Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books, a Blogfest, and Good Advice

Banned Books Week kicked in on Sept. 25h. Since we all know how I feel about banning books (if you're desperate to hear it, click here or here. I wouldn't fault you. I like my posts.) I'll spare you another rant/diatribe/epic poem on my feelings on the issue. Instead, I'll tell you a story.

(Unfortunately, I'm too far away from any of my old diaries to participate in the Public Humiliation Uncontest, this story can suffice for that moment too. Except I think of it more as fun than humiliating.)

When I was in high school, I was a member of the debate team. (This should not be construed as a representation that my friends and I were any good at it. But we had a lot of fun.) For my first and second years of high school, Debate Club was sort of a Geek Collective. Even the team captain admitted that you had to be something of a geek to want in.

Anyway, if you've ever participated in something called Cross-Examination Debate, like our captain did, then you'll know that Cross-Ex debaters travel with what we called Debate Boxes. They contained the deep knowledge of the universe, and all the information you might need to combat any argument made by the opposing side, ever. That too.

If you're like just about every single other person in the world, you've probably never made a thorough examination of one of these boxes. But it can be a long trip to a meet, and those were some pretty interesting boxes. Now, in one of the boxes, there was something called the Porn is Good file.

Before you scream at me and threaten to call the FCC, Google, The Hidden League of Blog Controllers, or whoever moderates blogs these days, I'm going to remind you that this box contained any argument needed to block any point your opposition could ever make. So, if you tried to shut down an opponent by saying they were destroying free speech, they'd say that the free speech is secretly bad, citing pornography, and thus you needed to defend pornography.

My friends and I spent some time debating the merits of this file and its counter file, the Porn is Bad file. (Oh, Debate Club, I miss you.) This led to some interesting conversations between my friends, me, and the Debate Captain (who once sold me his soul for a water bottle, but that's a different story).

(It should be noted, to protect the innocents, that nothing said during a real or mock debate cannot be assumed to be that person's actual views. You flipped a coin to see who defended what side, so you could easily win a debate saying something you firmly believed to be false. Anything said on the bus, likewise, was an intellectual exercise and shouldn't be held against a person. (Note: unless you're running for office. In that case, everything from debates, press statements, and shoe size will be held against you in the court of public opinion.))

Debate Captain: So, you see, pornography will lead men to think about women in a sexualized way. Therefore, we must ban it.

The Other One: But, don't romance novels cause women to think about men in a sexualized manner? Do we have to ban those too?

Debate Captain: You are absolutely right. **He points to a sticker on the Debate Box that states READ BANNED BOOKS.**

So, in the spirit of my Debate Captain and Banned Books Week, I'd like to urge you to take some time this week and, you guessed it, read a banned book. (If you're looking for suggestions, click here.) Me, I'm working my way through 1984 by George Orwell. So far, plusgood ;).

How are you guys celebrating Banned Books Week? Anyone else participating in a blogfest at the moment? Anyone else a debater in H.S.? Or a member of any other geeky clubs?

Also, while this post might have anything to do with writing or banned books, her advice is both useful and important, so I strongly urge everyone click read Kiertsen White's post on ectopic pregnancy. It could save your life.


  1. It's interesting that those who propose to ban books create such a backlash that the very books they try to ban become even more popular than before. Irony. LOL!

  2. I HATE the idea of banning books. Anyways.... man, reading through your post I just realized how much I WISH I had joined the debate team in high school. Back then....I was trying to suppress my inner geek and stay on top of the school hierarchy. Now, I get so HAPPY when people call me a geek... sorry, I'm rambling. Anyway, I wish I joined the debate team. It sounds so fun!

    I'm re-reading Harry Potter. (Big Surprise after my post today right?).

  3. I was on the debate team in high school. Everybody hated me because I was always right. (I always won.) I think it's one of my better qualities actually, that I can look at something from both sides and make an informed decision.

    I read 1984 in high school and was scared to death to think this was what "my" world was going to be like. I read it in '78 so it was with trepidation I made it through the rest of high school.

    People who ban books or movies or art, should be shot. Plain and simple. Right now I live in an extremely conservative right wing area. I can't even find books in the local library I want to read, and I know are out there because they've been published. I asked for one such tome one day (can't remember now what it was) and the librarian said, "Oh honey, we don't carry smut in our library." I almost laughed in her face. Small minded people don't need lectures, they just need to be shot.

    Sorry for the rant Dominique.

  4. I love banned books week - Just look at all the great books that moved to the top of my TBR list! :)

  5. I'm SO NOT A FAN of banning books. I think we should be allowed to read what every books we want. If we aren't banning films or video games then we shouldn't do it with books.

  6. Banning books is wrong. That's all I have to say. Okay, well, I have a lot more to say, but I'll save it for another time. Love the debate team story.

  7. absolutely hilarious.

    yeah, why ban books? nothing makes me want to read a book like banning it. Maybe I should try to write a book hoping to get it banned...

  8. Ibdiamond -- I think you're right about the potential bannings having the reverse effect. I can't even count the number of people I heard saying they were reading/rereading/giving to friends and strangers the book Speak because they heard about the controversy. Gotta love irony. Makes the world go 'round.

    Melissa -- Embrace the geek. It's the stuff of joy. :)

    Piedmont -- Rants are okay. Everyone needs to rant occasionally. Enthusiasm is always appreciated.

    Carolyn -- Excellent spirit.

    Jen -- You've got a point, but when I think about things like that,I just get scared they'll come for my movies next. If they come for my Colin Firth, this could get ugly.

    Susan -- I'm looking forward to hearing more. Glad you liked the story. :)

    Tamara -- A book an author wrote hoping it would be banned, now that's a book that would make for some interesting reading.