Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bowing Out of Banned Books Week.

I hate banned books week. It's so masturbatory.

Let me explain. Politically speaking, I'm a cynic. I've got opinions, and I vote on them, but when asked to discuss them with someone, I'll usually beg off, on the excuse that it just makes me angry. And it does, because it always feels like I'm wasting my breath. There are three possible outcomes of a political discussion: me trying to bring someone else around to my point of view, them trying to bring me around to theirs, or the two of us agreeing on something and talking about how everyone else has it wrong. All three are wastes of time, for different reasons. The first two are useless because words alone don't change people's opinions. They can, but most people fail to understand that anything they tell someone is filtered through the hearers life experience. If it matches what they've experienced of the world and its people, then you can persuade them. Usually, however, it won't. So you're left arguing in circles with someone who doesn't understand your point of view.

Then there's the third kind of discussion: preaching to the choir. Book bloggers love books. It's part of the job description. So we go immediately into combat mode at the suggestion that anyone would take our books away from us. Banned books week is a combination of a month-early Halloween and a pep rally: we sit around the campfire telling each other scary stories of the EEEEEVIL monsters of censorship and ignorance, and then we march on Washington with our allegedly-witty signage and our rants. This is supposed to "raise awareness", which from what I gather is code for "get the people who are already aware of this stuff amped up." In essence, we're practicing for the real fights we'll have to face in the coming year, when someone challenges a book for real.

The problem is, these fights will be political discussions of the first type, which as pointed out previously are f'in useless because you're talking to people who don't understand you. Instead these conflicts boil down to a political version of tug-o-war: the two sides of the argument pull as hard as they can trying to pull the others off their feet. Whoever has the most people on their side (the most votes, in other words) wins. Loser whines to the mass media.

And where does the internet fit into all this? It doesn't. They're the peanut gallery, offering cheers and support but not actually doing diddly-squat. Those bloggers that have a vote in the matter don't blog about it, they act. And action is very effective: I have never heard a single instance of a book being challenged that actually succeeded. So banned books week in the blogosphere is, at best, a bunch of speechmakers practicing for a future political endeavor where their speeches won't matter. At worst, it's a bunch of bloggers yakking for no other reason than demonstrating how enlightened and socially aware they are.

You may wonder why I'm getting my shorts in a bunch over this. Well, but also because I planned to be blog-hopping this weekend. I didn't, because every hop I found had a question about banned books, which I couldn't answer because A) I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said a dozen times before, and B) I don't choose to read books based on whether or not someone may have objected to them. I read books if I think I'll like them.

In short, I've got better things to do with my time. Like reading. You guys have fun, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.