In Missouri, Banned Books Week Starts Early
It takes a special, toxic mixture of arrogance and ignorance to come out against books as one Wesley Scroggins has in the great state of Missouri.
I'm sure Mr. Scroggins has forgotten his youth, and even if he does recall snatches of it, I'm sure it was a scarring and disfiguring time; one in which the gnarled spiritual spine of a misguided zealot grew into the knotted, rotted mess it is today.
But for others who recall their youth, they may recall the siren song of being denied access to something. I once horrified my parents by scanning through a copy of Helter Skelter they had on our bookshelf. The fact that the book soon after disappeared from the house marked it in my mind as a "must read."
If Mr. Scroggins is of a religious persuasion, maybe he'd recall from history that the early Christian church didn't flourish because it was embraced and encouraged by the powers at the time. The Christian church was shunned, persecuted, marginalized. Christians were fed to lions in the Colosseum at one time. Mr. Scroggins may argue that the early church flourished because of faith. I say it flourished because of human nature -- tell someone "You can't do that!" and by gosh, they're gonna wanna do it.
I'm sure that Mr. Scroggins has probably never traveled very far outside of the great state of Missouri, but possibly he's once or twice heard of a country called Ireland. Ireland was ruled brutally by England for centuries. All things Irish -- their language, art, literature, even their Roman Catholic religion (the suppression of which I'm sure Mr. Scroggins would have approved) -- were persecuted, marginalized and banned. At one point, teachers were instructed and paid not to teach children how to speak their native, Irish language, Gaelic,
Guess what? Gaelic now flourishes in Ireland. As does literature, music and every other native artform.
For these reasons, I've jokingly offered the following solution to encourage people to read: "Ban books." Because the moment people are told they cannot do something or read something, or see a certain movie, that object is marked in their mind as something they must see, read or do.
In the 1950s, it was common practice in Roman Catholic churches across North America to post lists of forbidden books and movies at the rear of the church. Mr. Scroggins will be shocked to learn that these lists were, in fact, used by many parishioners as guides on what to read and see at the cinema.
So, my satirical thinking on the subject of fostering a love of the arts in people has been "Ban art."
In point of fact, I'm too busy creating art -- I'm a writer by birth, bent, trade and inclination -- to actually ban anything. And I wouldn't know where to begin. Shit, I'd probably start with books I personally didn't like, accidentally generating buzz for them, and driving readers right into their incompetent arms.
Because Mr. Scroggins is clearly repeating history because he hasn't learned it, I won't assume he's fable in which a booklover describes the parts of a well-known book to a book-burner, saying, "What would you do about this book, it has sex and violence, incest, masturbation, executions, genocide, magic, false gods and homosexuality?"
Bursting his buttons to get a hold of this inflammatory, hellish book, the book-burner says, "My gosh, I'd burn that book in a heartbeat! Who wrote it? What's the title?"
The Holy Bible.
Happy banning, Mr. Scroggins. I imagine we'll probably be hearing about you in the future, like we did about Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard and George Alan Rekers. Those of you who "doth protest too much" often have scary, entertaining and scintillating skeletons in your own closet. Now that your name is in the media, I'm sure the digging into all you've got to hide has already begun.
For anyone interested in letting Mr. Scroggins know how they feel about his particular mixture of ignorance and arrogance, that leads him to presume he can ban books, here's his email address: WesScroggins@MissouriState.edu
At the very least, I'm sure Mr. Scroggins has got some Missouri young people curious about this Kurt Vonnegut who has caused so much upset. I'm going to pick up a copy of Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Speak.
Now, back to your closed-mindedness, sir.