I’m not convinced banning books is the best option

Published 8:00 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

Years ago, I was at the hospital with my then-wife, awaiting someone to wheel her and her bed into a surgical area for a procedure.

We were waiting in a small prep room that had a very conspicuous, large red button on the wall above her bed and a plaque reading “Do Not Push.”

I never wanted to push anything so badly.

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After finding no obvious connections to anything, and against my wife’s warnings, I gave in to my impulse and slammed my hand on that button.

Wham! The door to the room flew open and a nurse stared me down as my hand still hovered over the prohibited button.

“Did you push that button?” she demanded.

“Uh … yes, ma’am,” I muttered, adding a feeble apology. “What does it do?”

“Nothing. You just looked really guilty,” she said. Then she explained they have buttons like that in all the rooms because it distracts husbands and they always get pushed. She and my wife rolled away, both laughing.

It was the only thing in the room that specifically said I couldn’t touch it and I did.

God only prohibited one tree — just one — in the Garden of Eden. So which one did the serpent tempt Adam and Eve to, and which one did they really want and take from, thereby bringing sin and corruption into the world and messing it up for all of us? Yep, that tree.

And then we, of course, push buttons on our own.

There is an allure to something prohibited. Which is why I don’t think banning books is the best answer.

The first book to be banned in the United States was likely “New English Canaan,” written by Thomas Morton and published in 1637. Finding Puritan life too strict for him after sailing to the Americas from England in 1624, Morton had left and created his own colony, which is now Quincy, Massachusetts. His tell-all book critiqued and attacked Puritan customs very harshly, and was thus banned by Puritans.

Recently, the book “Maus” was banned by a school board in Tennessee. The book is a graphic novel about the Jewish Holocaust, banned because of “rough” language and a depiction of a nude mouse woman.

Closer to home, Ridgeland’s mayor Gene McGee recently withheld $110,000 of aldermen-approved funding from the Madison County Library System, until librarians agree to remove “homosexual materials.”

While I don’t really want my children “exposed” to materials that teach morals contrary to mine, in order to do that I would have to cut all internet, television and phone access in addition to whatever books I may find offensive. We should be offended by some things and we should protect our children as much as we can, but I’m not convinced banning books is the best way.

Who’s to say the Bible is not the next book to be banned because of offensive content? It certainly does contain a lot of “offensive” material.

I have worked nearly 30 years to teach my children to use their own minds, to think critically, to examine everything and hold it to the light of God’s Word to see what makes sense, what needs to be held onto tightly and what needs to be cast aside. I pray everyday that they continue to do so. They have not always made the right choices and they may repeat those mistakes today, but I cannot decide for them. They must — based on what I have tried to instill in their hearts and minds.

Sometimes we need to learn — or be reminded of — what’s right and wrong by pushing the big red button.


News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.