Idaho Writers Guild Stands Against Book Banning

In light of recent events both locally, in our state, regionally, and beyond, it is the official stance of the Idaho Writers Guild that book banning in any form and at any time is wrong. 

While not all material is appropriate for all age groups and audiences, the regulation of information by any government or authority, with potential legal or financial repercussions for violators, sets in motion a slippery, downward slope.

“When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, ‘this you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know’, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.” famously stated by Robert Heinlein.

In George Orwell’s novel “1984,” it is apparent that language plays a critical role in controlling people, with strategies such as promoting “doublethink” and substituting truth with falsehood. Manipulation of media in any and all forms is a key factor to facilitating this control.

At Idaho Writers Guild, we believe:

  • Your Story Matters, no matter who you are and what you believe. You deserve the right to share that story in whatever manner you see fit.
  • The free flow of information and opinions are essential to the growth of an individual and society. 
  • Learning is not possible without doubt, discourse, and even debate. We derive knowledge from what we have encountered or been exposed to in some manner. Both fictional and non-fictional narratives provide essential ways to learn through the eyes of another.
  • Boycotts of creators and their works are fine. There are no legal consequences for violating a boycott, the only consequence is that of a social one. But giving anyone in authority the ability to ban the exchange of information in any form is inherently dangerous.
  • You have a right to choose what you do and do not consume. Just as parents and caretakers have a responsibility to protect their children and others in their care from harmful things, including those in any form of media.
  • Disagreeing with and/or disliking the content of a book or other written work does not negate its potential value and benefit for others. 
  • Books of diverse genres should remain accessible to any who wish to read them.

We do not believe:

  • In endorsing works that condone violence or harm to others, whether that is emotional, physical, or psychological. Though we do not agree with banning such work, we simply do not agree with the content and its purpose.
  • We do not believe every story is for every audience or appropriate in every setting. Freedom of choice does not mean every book has to be in every library (an impossible feat anyway). But there is a difference between choice and the banning of a book which literally that choice away.
  • We do not believe that the consumption of media should be compulsory. Just as it is wrong to ban a book, it is wrong to force students to consume certain content (in which case, alternate content should be offered). Just the same, parents should not be forced to permit their child to be exposed to certain content especially if it goes against their personal and moral values.

Book bans are really about two things: choice and responsibility. In our country, in theory, we are free to choose any number of paths we’d like. However, we are also forced to take responsibility for those choices. That is our individual right. 

But if we choose to ban certain books or control certain information, what is to prevent someone with other beliefs from banning books we hold to be wholesome and true? Banning one scripture opens the door to banning all others. Banning one opinion opens the door to banning any opinion that offends anyone (which is all of them, by the way). 

What can you do instead of banning a book?

  • Boycott the book and author and organize others with your same beliefs to do so as well. This is a much less dangerous form of protest and it can have real results just like when the trans community united after statements made by JK Rowling about their community.
  • Discuss your issues with the book openly, honestly, and calmly within your community. Help others to understand the issues you have with a book or author and seek to share your perspective through meaningful discussions, this may even influence their own opinions.
  • Lastly, check your reaction. Is this just an opinion you hold? Is this work wrong, or just wrong for you? Why do others find comfort, entertainment, and value in the work you are seeking to ban? Have you explored all reasonable alternatives to a book ban? 

At Idaho Writers Guild, we believe firmly in the freedom of expression and freedom from censorship and government control of the flow of information, regardless of how we personally feel about an individual work or author. 

We also welcome all discussions about books and stories of all types. If you have questions or wish to discuss this stance, please email [email protected], and we’ll be happy to talk with you.

All media inquiries can be addressed to the above email as well. 

Troy Lambert

President, Idaho Writers Guild  

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