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We got a literary term for you today and an op-ed piece about banned books.
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A metaphor is a direct and vivid comparison between two things usually considered distinct or unrelated. Metaphors discover the connections between unique things and emphasize their similarities poetically without being taken literally.
Here are a few examples of metaphor:
● Her smile is the sun.
● He’s a black sheep.
● All the world’s stages.
What’s The Deal With Banned Books? – Op-Ed Piece
Writing a book that is banned is, for the most part, thought of as being bad for the writer’s career and reputation. Banned is bad. Bad is banned (Got it?) A writer should not try to be on that infamous list. That means that people don’t like you or your words. You said something that offended someone. You made a mistake. They will drop your books and body into the streets and burn both of them, possibly at the same time. After they are done burning the books and your body, they will surely appropriately treat your corpse by dragging it around the city streets for all to spit on. They will mock your stories and words and treat you as the monster that you are. You animal which feeds on the minds of the unrest, who preys on the souls of the unkept; you wrote that book because you believe in all of the sacrilegious sayings you put in it. You are a thief of my mind and a carrier of dirty deeds. I cast you out to hell where you belong, the writer who wrote the banned book.
Okay, that may be a little much. I mean, who has the time to drag a body around city streets, am I right? I’m getting one block in and looking at the mob and saying, “Look, I know we hate this guy and all, but this is exhausting. Can’t we do something better? Like not drag this heavy corpse from street to street. I mean, not to be that guy, but this can’t be sanitized.”
That’s when I either get thrown in with the corpse, and I find myself fighting for my life, or I give my position in the mob scene to one reasonable rioter so that I can step out of line to get a coffee break or something. It’s like, the dude is already dead; what point is there to drag it through the whole city?
Hypothetical digressions aside, is being banned really that bad for the writer? Why do writers worry about that action so much? Being banned only means that entire audiences won’t read your book, and your career as a writer is in jeopardy, forcing you to go back into construction. It could be worse for a writer; they could have writer’s block, make no progress with the novel they are working on, and still need to go to their construction jobs. I have no experience in that field, but I don’t imagine roof builders inspire many stories. I say that as long as a book is still selling, then what is the problem with it being banned? (Did you get the obvious problem there? How the hell can you sell a book that is already banned? If it is selling, then it isn’t banned. If it is banned, then it is not selling. It is a contradiction, or is it?)
There are two types of books that are banned, in my opinion.
Obvious Why It Is Banned
Let’s go into more detail about the two.
The books are so damn popular that someone was bound to be upset over the contents, like The Bible and its many books and gospels or Harry Potter and his many wands and wizards. I mean, sure, you can ban them all you want if you are a bookstore owner. Discourage people from reserving them. Tell all your employees that you don’t sell those books. You can also try to win the lottery and climb Mount Everest. But, for the most part, no one really thinks that banning them will stop their popularity. Nothing a store can do can change how people view those books. Don’t agree with the views of Christianity? Do you not like how slavery is in The Bible? Or are you just one of those people who like to bitch and complain about a book written so long ago being more relevant than anything you’ve done lately? Do you think that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft? The boy wizard is normalizing this awful lifestyle with his potions, his convoluted spells, and gasp …. British accent, and it must be stopped. Yeah, sure. Tell that to everyone who still loves those books. All the biblical scholars who are quick to quote Revelation and the 144,000 or the four horsemen, or the Harry Potter people who dress up for him, and have a ticket to attend Hogwarts. You can try as you like to stop these books, but they are too much a part of our culture to really ban them. Even if these books got banned, let’s say all five major bookstores that people still go to decide to never sell these books, someone somewhere would recognize the business opportunity and go off copying them, or something so that people could still read them. The crowds that like these books far outweigh the minority that views their banned status as correct.
Obvious Why It’s Banned
Then there are the other books that are what many of us think of as justifiable banned books, like Hitler’s Mein Kampf (that’s “My Struggle” for those who don’t speak German) or that book about making a bomb. I mean, you get why they are banned. You don’t need to take an English class to know the reasoning behind the decision. We can’t have kids going up to the bookstore counters asking for their Nazi leader book and bomb-making book reservations. “Today, I am going to read about how he blames the Jews for the war! And then how, with enough cleverness, you can make anything into a bomb. Even soap!” Yeah, we don’t need a bunch of Nazis walking around with soap bombs blaming the Jews for everything. That is bad for everyone, so you get why these books are banned. They say bad stuff, altering and affecting a person’s mind and making them a bad person. We are right in banning them as their words can hurt others. The other books in the “popular” category can be argued that they promote bad things, but these books are different. There is no discussion about their impact. A lot of good has come from that book about the Jewish carpenter on the cross or that story about that four-eyed schoolboy from Gryffindor, but what good can someone get from reading the Nazi leader’s book? What benefits are there to learning how to make a bomb? We are probably better off never getting the answer to these questions.
Can we also acknowledge how bookstores don’t have a section dedicated to either of these books? What the hell is up with that? Bookstores have a café, chargers for my laptop, and vinyl records (for some reason), and yet there is no place for the banned books. Unbelievable. I may have to write them a stronger worded letter. I want to walk into a bookstore, walk over to the vinyl record area, make a wiseass remark about the setup. “Why do they sell these?” Then I go over to the café, and I get an iced coffee (yes, I even get an iced coffee in the winter), and I go to sit down on the couch. I don’t have my laptop, so I don’t have to worry about charging it, plus there is that girl with blue hair who is intently on her laptop by the only charger. I am not going to disturb her train of thought. When I sit down, I want to see one thing when I look around the bookstore, bookshelves of banned books. One bookshelf with a sign “Banned Books – Popular Already” On the bookshelf next to it will be a sign “Banned Books – Obvious” I then sip my iced coffee, observing all those naughty books in front of me, and I wonder the question everyone thinks, “How many banned books could I buy at once before the cashier thinks I am crazy?” I say the number is three. Once I give the cashier the fourth controversial book, she will start to give me that look, as if she doesn’t trust me and doesn’t want to give me a receipt or offer me a bag. You know I am starting to think that these places ban these books because they don’t want me to buy them.
Now, I wonder how many authors wouldn’t mind being on the banned book list? How many of those authors on Goodreads would be okay if their book was a bestseller but was also banned? If you have read me before, then you know where I stand here. Screw Oprah or Reese Witherspoon. (I never watched Oprah’s daytime show where she openly admits to being okay about going to hell and gives away cars like they are coupons, and I don’t like any of Witherspoon movies, and I know so little of them that I can’t even make a joke about any of them. She was in that movie where she wore a lot of pink for some reason. That is all I know of her. So I am not going to ask either of them for a front cover sticker for my book) How can I get my book banned? How can I make parents worry about their kids reading me? How can I make people mad at my books being read? You know why I say this because that is where the fun is. Do you know how cool it would be to tell others that I not only wrote a book but that it got banned? I’d create fascination about the book by removing it from their eyes. What could I write that is so bad, so obscene that the book stores and Amazon want nothing to do with it? (Is this a bad time to pitch my book about the Nazi soap maker who wishes to become a wizard?)
Here is how I imagine the conversation going.
I casually tell someone of my book, even though I am dying to tell them everything about it on the inside. “I wrote a book.”
“What’s it about?” The stranger replies, not interested in the book, but only being nice.
“It’s banned,” I say proudly.
“Oh really? Why?” They ask, confused since they don’t even know who I am or why I am talking to them. At that moment, the stranger could think that I am a criminal, serial killer, or Nazi. Am I a Nazi criminal who is on his latest killing spree, and they are my next victim? No, I am just a creative author who thought it would be fun to write a book about controversial stuff.
“I guess you will have to read it to find out.” And I have successfully created intrigue from a stranger without telling them of the book’s story. Although, I have probably made them uneasy. Thanks, Oprah. Thanks, Reese Witherspoon (for nothing)
Can you imagine if a writer was known as the writer who only wrote books that got banned? It would become a sort of badge of honor for the guy. They could even have ceremonies for the damn bastard. Because let’s face it, being banned helps a book’s publicity. As a reader, you are intrigued by the contents of a book that was so offensive and wrong that it was no longer sold to the public. You think to yourself of the awful words in the book because it is bad for society. And of course, that makes you want to read it. Like a car accident, you know that it is wrong, but you can’t look away and are wondering if someone died. After viewing the scene, you start to wonder if you are going to continue on your original route home, or does this car accident make traffic change, so that you need to change course? What could be so bad that the stores say no to the book? Obviously, the fact that the Nazi soap maker is making bombs, or that he blames the Jews for everything or the fact that he is, you know, a Nazi.
The trick for an author is to continue to generate sales and yet somehow have their book be bad enough to be banned, but not actually banned. The money keeps rolling in. The public is still talking about the book and why it is banned. Everyone wins. The book publisher is making money. The author is now famous. One can view becoming banned as a publicity move for some authors since it generates speculation and debate from people.
I see a lot about the banning of certain shows and books for the contents, and I think that is bullshit. First off, if a no-name guy like me wrote the same book, it wouldn’t get banned; it wouldn’t even get read. I could write about my Nazi soap maker, who is struggling with his love for the party and his love of wizards; I bet you didn’t know that the Nazis didn’t like wizards. This great book could be written by a writer who knows what the hell they are doing. (In other words, not me) And you know what will happen? Nothing. They don’t ban books that are never read.
And what is with the timing of these bans? Why do they always happen late down the road of the book’s publication? Like the book sold millions of copies and now is banned? What is the point in that exactly? What happened after millions of people read the book was when it became offensive. Right…
Should an author be afraid of having their book banned? No. They shouldn’t. I, for one, am aiming to have at least half of my books banned in my lifetime. (The other half will be banned after I am dead) All I need to do is include a large portion of the story to something that can offend a bunch of people. Everything offends people today. Wow, who knew the sensitive culture that we live in could help me with my writing?
Here is the synopsis of my banned book.
Ralph Rommel is a simple man. He lives a simple life as a bomb maker for his favorite political party, the Nazis, as they try to establish a better life for everyone. Ralph is tired of his days as a bomb-maker in the soap factory, though, and wants to be a wizard with potions and spells. After finding a wand allowing him to perform real magic and tricks, Ralph is caught between two lives. The life he loves as a supporter of his favorite party or his love of wizardry.
In this story, the character learns that it is not the destination but the journey that counts.
I don’t know what I meant by that last line in the synopsis about the character learning; it is the journey, not the destination. I hear a lot of smart people say that.
Did You Know?
There is a sequel to Mein Kampf, titled Zweites Buch (which means "second book" in German). It focuses on the foreign policy of the Nazi party leader. It was never published.
5 Most Banned Books Between 2010-2019
according to The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). List found here
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Looking for Alaska by John Green
George by Alex Gino
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About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.
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