Few things bug me more than the curtailing of individual freedoms. And I'm ornery enough to want to do something if I'm told NOT to do it. But, no one has ever told me NOT to read this book or that book. (Actually, that's not true... When I was 12 or 13, my uptight, hypocritical, religious zealot mother threw out my copy of "Forever" by Judy Blume. I borrowed a friend's copy and read it anyway, so clearly that didn't work.)
A recent case of book banning has me knotted right up. I first heard of this from GalleyCat (via Twitter). Mark Melvin, an inmate in an Alabama prison, has been prevented from reading a book... a nonfiction book... a book on history... a Pulitzer Prize winning book.
The book is Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon.
It shouldn't matter WHY prison officials prevented Melvin from reading this book. No books should be banned. Ever. End of story. As soon as you ban this one or that one - no matter how offensive someone might find it - you end up on the slippery slope or at the thin edge of the wedge, which is too precarious a position to contemplate. From there, it doesn't take long to suffocate.
(For the record, prison officials thought the book posed a "security threat.")
I urge you to read this book. It was one of the three best nonfiction books I read in 2010.