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Students Celebrate banned books

October 11, 2012

Lydia Andreu, Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society president, and Dorothy Robbins, English professor and adviser, read at the Banned Book Reading at Prescott Memorial Library last Friday. - Photo by Scott Walkingstick

 

SCOTT WALKINGSTICK
Staff Reporter

 

Students gathered in front of Prescott Memorial Library, Oct. 5 to listen to their peers read passages from banned books as a way to express their freedom.

 

“Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books nobody reads,” said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

 

For the third year in a row, International English honor society Sigma Tau Delta has hosted an annual event as a way to celebrate Banned Book Week.

 

Associate professor of English and adviser, Dorothy Robbins, said it is people’s constitutional right to read whatever they want.

 

“Books get banned for reasons that are not logical and it is very anti-intellectual,” she said. “As a lover of books, it disturbs me.”

 

While Tech’s campus has only been a part of this the past three years, The National Library Association has been hosting this event nationwide for 30 years now.

 

“We take freedoms for granted,” Robbins said. “This event makes students aware that books are still banned in America.”

 

She said books were meant to be read and not edited or censored and does not purify the words in her classroom because it destroys the author’s point.

 

“Reading literary works out loud, I don’t censor the bad words,” Robbins said. “I wouldn’t say the ‘f-word’ at my dinner table, but if I’m reading out loud I will.”

 

Books can be banned for having religious and socialist undertones as well as too much foul language or provocative content.

 

Books such as “The Great Gatsby,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “The Diary of Anne Frank” are some surprising titles that have made the banned book list.

 

“‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ was banned for being too depressing,” Robbins said. “I guess she should have talked about the happy things that happen when you are hiding in an attic from Nazis.”

 

Donald Kaczvinsky, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said some of the greatest works of literature are banned simply because the author had an open mind or made someone question his or her values.

 

“I read whatever I want,” he said. “If I don’t like it, I’ll put it down.”

 

In 1995, Penny Culliton, a high school teacher in rural New Hampshire, gained national attention when she came under fire after a local newspaper had reported she was involved with a lesbian and gay support group and had passed out books depicting homosexual characters.

 

Culliton said she was trying to show students that homosexuals are normal folks.

 

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, students said there was nothing graphic in the books and most were halfway through with the novels when they were forced to return the books to the school.

 

Lydia Andreu, president of Sigma Tau Delta, said it is important to read banned books because censoring books means censoring ideas.

 

“Censoring books is not allowing people to grow intellectually,” she said. “We shouldn’t let people decide what they can or cannot read. We should take the initiative upon ourselves to read what we want.”

 

Enjoying the readings was Allison Hebert, a senior English education major, who said it was great seeing people getting together to enjoy literature and finding out new things.

 

“Being in such a prominent area on campus, I think it made people stop and appreciate what we were doing,” Hebert said. “We have to remind ourselves we have the ability to lead and express ourselves. It’s all part of our freedom.”

 

Robbins said it is very important to keep reading alive.

 

“People have died protecting our freedom,” she said. “This is one of our liberties that we have to keep promoting.”

 

Email comments to rsw020@latech.edu.

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