As members of the LDS church, we strive to seek out uplifting media. The church officially gave one hard-and-fast rule in the nineties, that members should avoid viewing R-rated movies, which quickly became obsolete. The standards for MPAA ratings shifted, and as LDS.org says, relying on the MPAA to regulate the content of your media is like "playing Russian roulette with your standards."
So now the official standard is to find media (in all its forms) that is "uplifting... wholesome... [and] promotes good thoughts."
Which means there's no longer a hard-and-fast rule. Which means you need to think for yourself. Which means you need to let others do the same. What uplifts you may not do the same for another, and vice versa.
So how does this relate to Banned Books Week?
Most books, as I'm sure you've guessed, are banned because of parental requests through schools. But that's not always the case. Books can be pulled from store shelves due to customer complaint and library shelves due to patron complaints.
The most common reasons books are banned are (1) sexually explicit - though this often includes sexual themes, not sexual acts* (2) profane language, (3) unsuited for the age group - this is the catch-all, "I can't put my finger on why, but I just don't want my kid reading it", (4) Satanism - any magic gets this label, including Harry Potter and Narnia, (5) violence, (6) religious viewpoint.
Over the last ten years, 291 titles have been banned (most of them are banned broadly and repeatedly, resulting in thousands of petitions) in schools for having a religious theme. Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series was often banned for being too violent and sexually charged, until book three came out and Edward announced he was a virgin and wanted to remain so until marriage. Then the book was challenged for having a religious viewpoint.
Parents all over the United States are successfully having books removed for having a religious viewpoint. This includes the Bible. Religious texts of any kind are not allowed in school or public libraries. Searching my (extensive) public library for "Book of Mormon" brings up a slew of anti-Mormon hate-books and the Broadway musical soundtrack.
Let's think about that: We, collectively as a nation, are more okay with anti-religious hate than we are with Christ's message of love and forgiveness. Look back to the reasons books are banned. We are more okay with violence than we are with sex, even if it is consensual, non-graphic sex.
Looking at a list of the most popular banned books of all time (compiling sales with successful bans over the entire twentieth century), The Bible tops the list. Virtually every classic work of literature makes the list. Les Miserables is a powerful metaphor of God's redeeming love and the juxtaposition of mercy and justice. But it features an unwed mother who turns to prostitution to survive, so it gets banned. Canterbury Tales, The Scarlet Letter, Oliver Twist, Sherlock Holmes (it teaches kids to lie and spy!), and The Diary of Anne Frank are all on the list.
|Sorry, 13 year old girl, your thoughts are inappropriate for teenagers.|
Here's the TL;DR version: If one woman who is seeking out clean, uplifting, wholesome media sees The Hunger Games as filling that role, what right do you have to prevent her from reading it? What right do you have to demand the book be taken from shelves across libraries and stores? Control what happens in your own home. Make suggestions. Ask for alternate assignments for your children if you need to.
Don't ban books.
*For the purpose of this post, and because of logic, I grouped the bans based on "homosexuality" with "sexual content," though homosexuality is usually listed as its own category.
** Books are usually only banned when they're popular. Book banners apparently have short attention spans and forget about those evil books once they're not on the bestseller lists anymore.