Friday, November 23, 2007

And so it goes

I am tickled. Delighted. Rubbing my hands in glee. The Golden Compass has been pulled from the shelves in Halton District Catholic schools. I am overjoyed. Why? Because nothing does more to get people reading and talking about a book than banning it!

Check out the Hamilton Spectator article on the subject. I love that the two other books in the series have been "pulled as a precaution". Well duh! If they'd actually read the books they'd know that the one they need to worry about is book 3 - The Amber Spyglass.

So why all the brouhaha? Well. Horror of all horrors, the author is (gasp) an atheist! Whatever will we do?!?! And worse than that. His book might in fact encourage atheism. Does it?

Really? Well, it certainly questions dogma. It does question organized religion. Maybe it is even anti-religion in a way. Ok, maybe there is a Paradise Lost style battle in book 3. And there are some concepts and ideas that don't really mesh with Catholic dogma. So, ok.

But should libraries only carry that which is safe? That which does not question? What is the point of reading if not to open yourself to new ideas? What is the point of a library if not to offer people free access to new ideas, new thoughts?

The CBC has a viewpoints article featuring feedback from real people.

My favourite is "Chris" from Waterloo:

Way to go Halton School Board! The first school board in not only Canada, but the world to pull a very interesting and educational reading material from children after not 1000, not 100, not 10, but 1, yes 1 complaint. I dare suggest that this 1 person is of a religious background and might disagree with some of the views in the book. This 1 person and the Halton School Board should recognize that life is all about differing opinions and fighting through those differences to achieve a collective good. Guess Halton District doesn't work like that. Hopefully they don't spread their intolerances to us in Waterloo Region!

Way to say it Chris! - although you missed mentioning that this is the Catholic board of education, not the Public board. They do have their own particular religious needs. Though that is no excuse for denying children access to such an amazing book.

One of the things I like best about this situation is that the book was published in 1995. Twelve years ago. Since then it has won numerous awards. It has been on just about every recommended reading list possible. It has been a big seller. It has audiobooks. And then, they decide to make a movie. Suddenly the non-readers find out about it. Then, all of a sudden it is a book to be banned. Bring it on I say - all the better to get people reading it, and thinking about it!

Incidentally, The Golden Compass, the very very dangerous ban worthy book, was voted the "Best Children's book in 70 years" this past summer. This, based on a public vote, by readers from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, who selected the book from a list of past winners of the Carnegie Medal for children's literature. Not bad for a seditious atheist huh?

So kids - get thee to a public library, where you will find public librarians who adore this book, will recommend it, will be delighted to talk with you about it for hours on end. And, most importantly, who will encourage you to read exactly what you want to read, no matter what they happen to think of your choices.


False Prophet said...

I find there's one good argument for having a separate Catholic school system. This kind of stupidity does a good job of turning people away from the Church. It worked for me, after all.

Moreover, the best way to insure Catholic teenagers will not learn anything about their faith's doctrine and history is to make it schoolwork.

This post sums up my feelings as well.

Francis Wooby said...

There's gotta be some sort of award for this kind of stupidity.

MadJenny said...

There totally should be! Maybe we should start said award. With this as the inaugural champ.