“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
“The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.”
– Adolf Hitler
“A mind needs a book as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”
– George R. R. Martin
“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”[Bold Emphasis Added]
– John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.
September 25, 2016
Censors are increasingly focusing on books that represent diverse points of view
For as long as humans have printed books, censors have argued over their content and tried to limit some books’ distribution. But the reasons for challenging literature change over time, and as Banned Book Week begins on Sept. 25, it’s clear that public discomfort with particular ideas has evolved rapidly even in the last 20 years.
When the American Library Association started keeping a database of challenged books in the early ’90s, the reasons cited were fairly straightforward, according to James LaRue, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “‘Don’t like the language,’ or ‘There’s too much sex’—they’d tend to fall into those two categories,” he says. Some books are still challenged for those reasons—Fifty Shades of Grey is a common example. But there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books “focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities,” LaRue says. “It seems like that shift is very clear.”
The ALA’s list of the 10 most challenged books in 2015 bears this out: it includes I Am Jazz and Beyond Magenta, about young transgender people; Fun Home and Two Boys Kissing, which deal with homosexuality; Habibi and Nasreen’s Secret School, which feature Muslim characters; and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, which was cited for “atheism.” In contrast, the top 10 most-challenged books of 2001 were more straightforwardly banned for strong language, sexual content and drugs, like The Chocolate War and Go Ask Alice.
The shift seems to be linked to demographic changes in the country—and the political fear-mongering that can accompany those changes, LaRue says. “There’s a sense that a previous majority of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are kind of moving into a minority, and there’s this lashing out to say, ‘Can we just please make things the way that they used to be?’” LaRue says. “We don’t get many challenges by diverse people,” he adds. In recent years, book challenges have peaked while religious liberty bills were in the news, he says.
Here’s a look at how things have changed in the past 15 years:
Most-challenged books of 2001:
- Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
Reasons: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group, violence
- The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
- Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
Reasons: offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group
- Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
- Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
Reason: offensive language
- Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Most-challenged books of 2015:
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
- I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
- The Holy Bible
Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
- Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
- Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
- Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
- Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).
But the recent backlash challenges have not been limited to conservatives: the Bible is on the top 10 list for 2015, in part because of concerns about why a book that argues for the murder of homosexuals (as in Leviticus) would be in a public library. Opposition like this comes from “people that are just questioning in a larger sense what is the appropriate role of religion in our society,” LaRue says.
Over time, some books lose their opponents—the Harry Potter series, for instance, were the most-challenged books from 2000 to 2009, but have since fallen off the top 10 list. “There was a period there where Harry Potter was [considered] a Satanist and a cult, and people were doing book cuttings and book burnings,” LaRue says. “And now if you read people that are kind of on the right side of the religious spectrum, their kids love the Harry Potter books, so sometimes the things that we’re convinced are signs that the end is nigh are completely normalized in five years.”
The ALA usually learns that a book has been challenged either from librarians at schools or public or academic libraries calling in incidents, or from reports in local newspapers. In recent years there’s actually been a decline in reports—the ALA recorded 311 challenges in 2014 and only 275 in 2015. On the surface, that may seem like a good thing—but it probably indicates that fewer people are speaking up when a book is removed, meaning more banning is going on under the radar, LaRue says. “We have reason to believe that where censorship starts to succeed, there’s less reporting about it,” LaRue says. “So we can say it’s hard for us to know, we know that challenges are underreported, but we don’t know by how much.” It doesn’t help that school librarians are frequently the victims of school layoffs, meaning there are fewer professionals “trained to use this language of intellectual freedom.”
Still, one thing hasn’t changed since the dawn of censorship: having your book banned is very, very good for an author’s sales. “If what you’re trying to do is stop this book from getting into the hands of a minor,” LaRue says, “the surest way to [fail] is to declare it forbidden.”
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
– President Abraham Lincoln
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind – Beginner’s Mind
April 10, 2019
As a preamble, it must be stated that Bruce Lee was not a conformist in any way shape or form.
Martial artist and philosopher Lee was the very antithesis of conformity. In a modern era where the system seeks to social engineer you in more ways than you can imagine, Lee’s take on the oft-overlooked subject of conformity is monumentally refreshing and well thought-out.
Lee valued individuality far more than most. In fact, in Striking Thoughts – Bruce Lee’s Wisdom For Everyday Living, writer John Little expounds upon this very notion:
“Bruce Lee rejected blind obedience to external authority. He urged human beings to hold themselves and their lives as their highest values and wrote in praise of “the artist of life” who lives by his own judgement…”[Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].
Lee also cautioned the following against conformity:
“We have more faith in what we imitate than in what we originate.”
In this sense, imitation is not the highest form of flattery, not even close.
Likewise, Little notes that the result of conformity crisis is that:
“…we are encouraged – and have opted – to look to anyone but ourselves for the answers of our most unsettling questions.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
The system teaches you to search from without, not from within; away from the individual and their inner consciousness.
Due to knowledge of this conformity crisis, Lee was very careful not to impose his beliefs and knowledge onto his students. In fact:
“[a teacher] employs a minimum of form to lead his student to be formless. Furthermore, he points out the importance of being able to enter a mold without being imprisoned by it, or to follow the principles without being bound by them.“ [Bold Emphasis Added].
Lee sought for others to remain fluid, malleable, like water. An apt analogy if there ever were one considering Lee’s timeless water analogies.
Moreover, Lee also cautioned about an individual’s knack for clinging to artistic principles which curtail an individual’s growth as an individual. Lee warned:
“If we cling to any artistic technique it can limit our artistic expression. Art is the expression of the self; the more complicated and restrictive a method is, the lesser the opportunity for expression of one’s original sense of freedom….If we cling to them, we will come bound by their limitations.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
Freedom of expression, and freedom of creativity should always be sought after and merely clinging to any artistic system restricts this in myriad detrimental ways for all individuals.
For those following artistic systems, Lee also forewarns:
“The second-hand artist, in blindly following the teacher, accepts his pattern and, as a result, his action and, above all, his thinking becomes mechanical, his responses automatic according to the pattern – and thereby he ceases to expand or to grow. He is a mechanical robot, a product of thousands of years of propaganda and conditioning. The second-hand artist seldom learns to depend upon himself for expression; instead, he faithfully follows an imposed pattern. So what is nurtured is the dependent mind rather than independent inquiry.” [Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].
Lee shows why it’s critical to maintain an open mind, clear of any previous dogmas.
Along the same line of thought, Lee states:
“Do not restrict yourself to one approach, there are different approaches, you know?…We must approach it with our own self – we are always in a learning process, where as a “style” [or system] is a concluded, established, solidified something. You cannot do that, because you learn everyday as you grow older.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
Allow me to translate: the individual is ever-learning, ever-growing, ever-evolving. A static mindset is counterproductive to that and the antithesis to open-mindedness and growth.
For those seeking truth in a world that seeks to conform, Lee also cautiously intimates:
“The truth is outside of all set patterns. Conditioning is to limit a person within the framework of a particular system. All fixed set patterns are capable of adaptability. [Bold Emphasis Added]..”
The only way to attain truth is outside of set patterns, outside of a closed mind, which is already set in its ways.
On the very significance of maintaining an open mind against any sort of conformity, Lee states:
“Keep your mind uncontaminated by past conditioning.” [Bold Emphasis Added].
Just as author Shunryu Suzuki trenchantly notes in his illuminating Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, Lee is every-steady in urging individuals to remain fluid and flexible, maintaining an open-mind, a beginner’s mind.
If the individual is to ‘adopt’ anything, Lee suggests to:
“Use ‘no way’ as way. When there is a ‘Way,’ therein lies the limitation. And when there is a circumference, it traps. And if it traps, it rots. And if it rots, it is lifeless.”
Systems lead to stagnation and to decay. On the other hand, flexibility, fluidity, open-mindedness – the open-mindedness of a beginner’s mind – allows for ceaseless learning to be had in ever moment, at every instance. And isn’t that what life is about, learning?
Conformity is the very antithesis of learning. Conformity leads an individual to stagnation and to hold their mind, their very being, their creativity, under lock and key. And what is allowed to manifest, is always within the confines of a box – the system-imposed matrix social engineers seek. That is not an approach that fosters growth. The opposite side of the spectrum is what offers it.
A clear mind of all preconceptions – of all notions – that holds open-mindedness is they key.
And isn’t it logical that the mind of a beginner, if it is always maintained, is ever-ready, like a blank canvas, a blank page, prime for learning, for it is inherent in a beginner’s nature.
In that way, all life is learning, all learning is life; endless growth follows – the endless growth of you; the seed of today, the juggernaut of tomorrow.
 John Little, Striking Thoughts – Bruce Lee’s Wisdom For Everyday Living, pg. xx.][Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].
 Ibid., p. xx.
 Ibid., p. xx-xxi
 Ibid., p. 90.
 Ibid., p. 138.
 Ibid., p. 172.
 Ibid., p. 154.
 Ibid., p. 149.
 Ibid., p. 148.
 Ibid., p. 154.
Have You Ever Walked On The Moon?
Wings Are Made To Fly, Seeds Are Made To Grow
Consciousness – The Key To Life
Why A Sound Mindset Is Crucial: The Light Side Of Mindset Vs. The Dark Side Of Mindset
Mindset Mindset Mindset!
A Sound Mindset Amidst The Obstacles Of Life
Mindwaves & Mindfulness
Modern Misteps Meet Mindfulness
How You Deposit A Truckload Of Black Pearls Into An Emotional Bank Account
How Are Your (Emotional) Bank Accounts Doing?
Emotional Bank Accounts: Investing In Yourself
Emotional Bank Accounts: Mutual Funds
Emotional Bank Accounts: Deposits & Withdraws
Emotional Bank Accounts: Gems Gems Gems, Babies Everywhere!
Emotional Bank Accounts: I Call Your 7 Cents & Raise You A Dollar
Poker & Life: Pulling The Friend’s Card
IT’S A DECEPTICON!!!
The Inherent Power Of Curiosity
A 7 Cent Investment Into An Emotional Bank Account To Convert A Hater?
What Do You Find Inspiring?
Poker FlashBack: Swimming With Sharks, Swimming With Whales
Imagination Rises Out Of The Jaws Of Defeat
What’s Your Story?
You The Individual Are Author Of Your Own Journey, Of Your Own Destiny
Harry Potter Fans Trash Talk? Say WHAT?!
Consciously Creating The Road Of Change, The World Of Tomorrow
What Are Your Personal Defaults?
The Opening Salvo, The First Minute
The Seeds Of Today, The World Of Tomorrow
Assumptions Are Mother Of All F@!$ Ups
Piercing Perspectives #1: Taking Things For Granted | Health & Mindset
Piercing Perspectives #2: You The Individual Are Extraordinary
Piercing Perspectives #3: The Divide & Conquer Left Right Paradigm
Piercing Perspectives #4: Poker As A Mirror For Life
The Individual, The Foundation Of Society
If you find value in this information, feel free to share it. This article is free and open source. All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and BreakawayIndividual.com
About The Author:
Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who aims at empowering individuals while also studying and regularly mirroring subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.