I grew up in a home filled with books. Books I could read whenever I wanted. Since they’d long since run out of bookcase space, my mother’s closet served as the repository for her most current Book Club books. As long as she wasn’t reading a book, it was up for grabs.
In fact, I remember only one time when my mother asked me not to read a book. And, even then, it wasn’t a “never” answer; it was a “later” answer. As my 5th grade friends and I made our way through the collected works of Judy Blume, we came across Forever, a decidedly un-5th-grader-friendly novel about teenage sex. While some mothers huffily returned their daughters’ copies to the bookstore and demanded the reshelving of the book from the Young Adult section to the regular section, my mother took a different approach.
“You know, that’s a book I think you might enjoy more in a few years,” she said casually. “Why don’t we put it away, and you can read it then?” I returned happily to Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret and Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself and promptly forgot all about Forever until much later. So much later, in fact, that when I did read it all I could think was that it wasn’t all that well-written in the first place. That, and I’d certainly never be naming a boy Ralph. Two points to Mom for her smooth handling of that one and even more bonus points for instilling in me a love of both reading and freedom of expression.
I’ve tried to carry on that legacy with my own children and in my work. Overall, if you asked me, I’d certainly say I oppose censorship. Which is why the following comment from my This Is Just To Say post has me thinking.
wondering why mine was deleted? censored site?
And, yes, I did remove G’s previous comment along with another one posted around the same time. Both poems crossed a line I wasn’t comfortable with in their sexual nature. And, yes, something about the particular challenge to write a poem in the style of William Carlos Williams’ This Is Just To Say seems to bring out the need for sexual commentary. I don’t really know why, since it seemed to inspire thoughts about laundry for me!
As anyone who takes the time to read the 50 or so attempts at parody can see, I’ve left some that might be questionable. I honestly can’t remember G’s post exactly, but it bothered me enough that I didn’t want it associated with my blog. Censorship? In its essence, I suppose so.
But, what responsibility do bloggers have to allow for complete freedom in comment posting? Should all comments be retained? I’ve kept comments on other posts when people disagree with me. I’m not afraid of that or of allowing different viewpoints. But I don’t feel bound to keep comments I find offensive.
Am I wrong? I’d love to hear from other bloggers or just readers in general. Because that charge of censorship stings enough to make it ring a bit true.