Here it is, the middle of Freedom to Read Week

and I’ve hardly mentioned much of anything in the way of that. Something comes to mind, though. These posts are set to drop on Facebook after I write them and one of my Facebook friends left a comment there about Marion Heath’s anti-gay novel that’s soon to be released, which promotes the idea that turning to Jesus can cure homosexuality.

This is where censorship should come into play to ban garbage like this.

I wrote back,

Or one of those “Dangerous for your Sanity” warnings.

Had I more time at the time, I could have thought of a better response than that. I’d been thinking of the “Read with discernment” stickers Baptist book sellers in the States were putting on some of their stock to warn shoppers that the content might make them think too much and thus open the door to all kinds of “wrong” ideas. They’re taking them off now because they got more flak over them than they expected, although not for a reason I expected.

The program became an ongoing target of criticism. The most recent round was sparked by an October blog post by Shaun Groves, a Christian musician and speaker. Groves got so annoyed by the warning he found on Miller’s book in a LifeWay store that he walked out and bought the book at a nearby Barnes & Noble instead.

“LifeWay warns Miller’s readers to exercise discernment because it believes his books to be inconsistent with historical evangelical theology in some way,” he wrote, “yet instead of refusing to sell them, LifeWay chooses to profit from what it alleges to be heresy(ish).”

In order to make the best profits possible, they chose to sooth the worries of devout Baptists by warning them ahead of time regarding books in the store that they might not like, books available for sale there only because they wanted to benefit from a broader Christian market, not because they officially approved of what was written in them.

Groves, whose music is carried by LifeWay and who declined to be interviewed for this story, went on to say that Christians should read every book—not just Miller’s—with discernment.

“I want you to know that everything I write might be wrong,” he wrote. “Exercise discernment.”

It bugs me to no end to see a book like Hearn’s get published, but like Voltaire gets the credit for saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Banning a book is not the best approach for dealing with the ideas inside it. Read with discernment. If you can talk about the book and be able to explain why there’s something wrong with the ideas as presented, with good arguments or proof to back up your side of the issue, that will work infinitely better than banning a book outright.

Use what’s in there as a way to educate and demonstrate why people’s perceptions of homosexuality as curable is something that needs to be challenged. Why do people believe this? Why do people think this will work? What’s their evidence that they’re right about homosexuality being a detriment to society? Is there any, or is the bible all they’ve got behind them, a few lines of scribble from 2000 years hence? What else would they using as proof they’re right and does it make any reasonable sense to go along with it based on what we know about human evolution and biology in general?

Moral of the story here, instead of disgust, discuss. Yeah?

Hmm.

That seems like something that ought to be on a shirt for sale, but I’m too lazy to make them.


edit later – fixed a blockquote booboo. Memo to self- preview these things better before clicking “post”

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About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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2 Responses to Here it is, the middle of Freedom to Read Week

  1. Daniel says:

    “yet instead of refusing to sell them, LifeWay chooses to profit from what it alleges to be heresy(ish).”

    I agree with you. Just because you disagree with something doesn’t mean you should censor others from it. The Christian bookstore is practicing free speech. If they had taken the book off of their shelves, they would’ve been ridiculed for censorship and being unconstitutional. Who can win against such unwavering bias?

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    It’s one of rock/hard place things. Obviously stores and book companies want to make a profit off what they sell. Kindles and their ilk continue to gain in popularity. Not only are people reading less generally speaking (if you look at literacy stats, for example), they’re choosing different ways to access what they want to read. Throw censorship and controversy into it.. well, suffice it to say, I’m glad I work for a library instead of owning my own bookstore.

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