The dangers of censorship.
Image C/O Madison Sciba
By Madison Sciba
Associate Editor/Opinion Columnist
Penguin Random House, one of the largest publishing houses in the world, made waves after they announced that they will censor some of the most popular children’s novels by the late author, Roald Dahl. You have probably read at least one of Roald Dahl’s books or even seen one of the various movies or Broadway musical adaptations from one of his works. Dahl is known for books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, and many more. Many of his novels have been staples in the childhoods of many.
The publisher of Dahl’s books, Penguin Random House, has decided that in an effort to be more “inclusive” they will be editing Dahl’s novels by changing the more “offensive or insensitive” wording. They will be replacing words such as “enormously fat” to “enormous” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and phrases like “You can’t go round pulling the hair of every lady you meet, even if she is wearing gloves. Just you try it and see what happens” are being completely reworded to “Besides, there are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that” (The Witches).
Roald Dahl is just the latest victim in this censorship craze that is being disguised as being “inclusive.” Classic literature such as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird have been censored and banned in several libraries and schools throughout the United States by people on both sides of the political spectrum. Books that are considered classics are being banned and censored for having “inappropriate” or “insensitive” content by today’s current standards.
While no book or piece of literature should be banned, these classic novels should not be banned purely because of their worth to education. Most of these books have been read by students every year in all levels of English and Literature classes. Yet now, they are suddenly not okay for students to read.
In my last year of high school (2019/2020), my senior AP Literature class was instructed to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was originally published in 1885. My teacher however, was told that the school board of our district was making a list of books students were not allowed to read and Huck Finn was on the list. We were told that due to the use of an expletive in the novel, it was now forbidden to be taught in any school in the district.
Banning books based on things like explicit language and content that is not completely acceptable to today’s standards is ruining literature. No book is perfect. No author is perfect. Just because there are some inappropriate terms does not mean that the book is not worth reading. Just because an author is controversial does not mean that their work is not worth reading. Let people decide for themselves what they should and should not read. Why not use controversial books as opportunities to learn and improve us rather than shelter us from the past? Censorship is dangerous and something we need to speak out against. Don’t let companies like Penguin Random House ruin your favorite books. Don’t let groups like my high school district tell you which books you are not allowed to read. Make those decisions for yourself. Read what you want. Say no to censorship and say no to banning books.
Madison Sciba '24,