SHREVEPORT – I abhor censorship, especially when it comes to books and things like banned books lists and instances where people who deem themselves more forward thinking than all the rest of us in their decisions to “protect” us from offensive material.
You will have no doubt heard by now about the decision to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a prestigious book award title:
A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from a major children’s book award, over concerns about how the author portrayed African Americans and Native Americans.
The board of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) made the unanimous decision to change the name on Saturday, at a meeting in New Orleans. The name of the prize was changed from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.
The association said Wilder “includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values”.
The first award was given to Wilder in 1954. The ALSC said Wilder’s work continued to be published and read but her “legacy is complex” and “not universally embraced.”
So this is my question: why must something be “universally embraced” for it to be acceptable?
As a child I read every one of the Little House on the Prairie books; I loved them. They transported me to that frontier era and taught me a lot about how those early settlers survived. I was fascinated by them.
I never read the books as a child and thought, “Well, my goodness, that’s an awfully racist way to depict Indians.”
The Association for Library Service to Children has the right to make decisions about their own award, certainly. What concerns me, and always has when it comes to things like this, is where does it stop? Are we now to go back and revise every piece of literature that mentions Indian violence on the frontier?
What else in our American literary canon might offend someone? The list could be pretty extensive.
This is so closely related to those people who want to ban To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from reading lists and libraries because they contain language we no longer use today.
Somebody cue Guy Montag…he can handle this.