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Beware! There's danger in reading the dictionary!

Did you know that Webster's Dictionary, Dr. Seuss and the Bible have been lumped together on a list of banned books?

Here's how I think it happened. Somewhere, there's a place called The Office of Intellectual Freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness (or OIF, as it is often referred to by The Society to Ban Long Names).

Inside the office are 51,000 Intellectual Freedom Fighters who stare at the telephone waiting for good citizens to report the heinous crime of censorship.

And anti-censorship citizens are calling in! All 1,000 of them. (This is a True Fact.) OIF then takes the information and compiles "A List." Thus we are fortunate enough to learn that Webster's Dictionary was banned from fourth and fifth grade classrooms in a New Jersey school district because some parents objected to its definition of intercourse.

And we all know why this does not justify banning the book.

Ten-year-olds ought to be allowed to huddle in a corner of the playground, giggling and thumbing through a dictionary in search of a word they can't even spell yet, while some bright lad says, "Isn't that where two roads meet?"

The anti-censorship people also discovered that Dr. Seuss' story of the lorax was banned from a California school district because some loggers claimed that it portrayed their industry in a bad light. Fortunately for us all, Dr. Seuss wrote a kazillion other books that, so far, have not offended anyone's income.

All this ratting on book banners has made me nervous. You see, I'm a closet Book Banner. There are certain kinds of books I will not let my children read. There are even books I've banned from my own personal library.

CENSORSHIP! I have violated my children's -- and my own -- First Ammendment Rights. Before you know it, democracy will be banned from my home and the kids will not be permitted to vote on household legislation. The Intellectual Freedom Fighters might swoop in and ban me from being a mother!

But I haven't banned the Bible.

This brings me to a very important question. I want to know why the Bible can be banned from the libraries of public schools, but they can carry the Satanic Bible. And why are there no books on Christianity amidst books on Eastern mysticism, witchcraft and other religions?

Rather than getting upset and compiling lists every time parents choose to be responsible about what their children read, why don't the anti-censorship people develop a fairer system of what gets banned and what doesn't?

"All right, folks, if you're going to ban the Bible, ban all books on other religions, too. Or else!" they could say.

Censorship is in the eye of the beholder. So if you don't report my book banning activities to the Intellectual Freedom Fighters, I won't report yours. Deal?

© 1990 by Terry A. Modica
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