Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is associated with Colorado State University in Fort Collins. A year ago, a friend mentioned it to me. Providing classes for 17 years, they offer over 70 courses for adults ages 50 and better. I clearly fit the age requirement.
I recently took three classes by the same instructor regarding banned books in certain areas of Colorado. Books like Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, James and the Giant Peach by Dahl, Captain Underpants by Pilkey, The Storyteller by Picoult, To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee, Glass Castle by Walls and more. There were over twenty-five attendees and due to the comments and questions, I’m certain we were all on the same page (no pun intended). Basically, we were saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me!’
Currently, some places have already taken these certain ones off the shelf or are currently in the process of the “fight” to do so. I learned that it could take only one person to request the ban and depending on the city board, the library board, and others, it can happen. One person! I knew that bans were being introduced across the country, but even so, I’m sure my mouth gaped open when the instructor showed book covers on the screen that are currently in the “penalty box.” In fact, license has been used to change some words within the book to appease the protestors.
This recent movement isn’t new. For generations, books have been banned due to use of certain words, graphics, and subject matter. Classics have also been a target, now and before. I’ve read many and enjoyed them—they’ve also taught me much. I earnestly am appalled at what’s taking place today. I don’t believe any of us readers and writers want extraordinary readings written by the ordinary removed from us. It’s time to pay attention.