This week is the annual Banned Books Week, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, the American Library Association and many other organizations. As you may know, as a writer, I welcome all opinions and all incarnations of free speech. For our democracy to work, everyone has to have a voice. Even morons like racists, homophobes, religious fanatics and idiots who say that Alan Trammell doesn’t belong in the Baseball Hall-Of-Fame. It has to be this way. Either everyone has free speech and freedom of expression or no one does. Picking and choosing who gets to speak leads to totalitarianism. That’s bad. And that’s why I support the ALA in their efforts to stamp out censorship.
Generally, when I find some idiots like the Westboro Baptist Church or people who speak out in support of white chocolate and even advocating using it in recipes, my first rule is to ignore them. Moronic people are looking for an audience. More, they are looking to cause controversy. If they can get your dander up, they’ve won. Which is why I have a “Don’t listen to idiots policy.” White chocolate. Please. It’s not chocolate, it’s an abomination. But hey, whatever floats your mousse.
Yet as a writer, I’m torn. Except for a weird guy from Germany, many years ago, who sent me a 12,000 word screed on why the Knights Templar were the reason for every evil in the world, none of my books have ever been remotely challenged or banned. As far as I know. And while I would protest vigorously if anyone challenged or banned one of my books, I would kind of appreciate the attention. You know why. Because when something is deemed forbidden, it makes it a little more attractive to us. Especially young readers, which is most of my audience.
Believe me. Writing is hard. It takes time, practice and a lot of luck and perseverance to build an audience. Getting one of your books banned makes it a lot easier. Paraphrasing Mark Twain “the banning of one book will insure the sale of 100 of its mates.”
So you can see my dilemma.
For my own work, based on what I perceive to be the greatest benefit to me (and let’s face it, I look at most problems in the world through one prism: how is it going to effect me?) I need to be banned and censored. I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided it’s the right decision.
If you are a teacher, librarian or parent, I’m asking you to challenge one of my books and demand it be removed from your school or public library. Or both. You should protest in front of your local bookstore. In fact, you should go into said bookstore, buy all my books and burn them. Ask your friends and relatives to do the same in their town. Let’s start a movement.
To help get you started, I’ll even tell you why some of my books should be censored.
1. Blood Riders has illicit sex outside of marriage and lots of violence and carnage.
2. Pirate Haiku talks a lot about wenches and rum. Wenches and rum = bad.
3. Killer Species is all about genetic engineering. Need I go any further? Seriously?
4. Spy Goddess has a really mouthy heroine who steals a car and breaks rules.
5. The Youngest Templar has violence, a mysterious secret society and horses.
6. Zombies. Enough said.
7. The Monster Alphabet is scary for small children (not really but you could make a case for a really small child).
8. Off Like The Wind and Daniel Boone’s Great Escape are all about the conquering of the American West and the displacement of Native Americans. (Not really, but they were there when some of that stuff happened).
I really think this is enough to get you started. If you consider yourself a fan, please take it a step further and get my books banned.
I ask for so little. Let’s do this!
Michael P. Spradlin