Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today I received an email calling for a boycott of the movie, The Golden Compass. This boycott is based on the premise that since the author of the book is an atheist, this movie will turn its viewers (especially kids) into atheists, too. This is, mind you, before its actual release date. Of course, that’s the problem with most censors and the people that line up like sheep behind them--they’re rumor-driven. They never even read the book or see the movie before they begin their campaign to censor it.

As a librarian, I was aware of and/or subjected to numerous censorship attempts. Censor groups wanted Shel Siverstein's books pulled from the our public libraries and school libraries because he was gay and "he wanted to make everyone gay." (I ended up testifying at a public hearing over that one.) I was asked to pull Mark Twain's books because he was an atheist. Likewise, works by Noel Coward, because he was a gay atheist--a double threat. There were many, many more examples, including a group who wanted the Smurf books removed from our bookshelves because they were "communistic."

When I write my books, I don't try to make people Methodists. What sense does the phrase, "The author of this romantic comedy is a Methodist, so she's trying to get her readers to convert to her views" make?

Granted, there are books written specifically to proselytize. But how many people became atheists because they read Tom Sawyer? How many children became gay after their parents or teacher read them poems from Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends? Was there a mass conversion to Islam after people read The Kite Runner? Of course not.

If we judge books and movies by the religious and political beliefs of the person who wrote them, we're going to have a mighty limited selection from which to choose. Each work should be judged on its own merit, and maybe The Golden Compass movie is just what it's claiming to be--an entertaining fantasy.

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