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Batley’s banned books exhibition puts the spotlight on freedom of speech

Batley Library which hosted a banned books display. Image: Stanley Walker, Wikimedia Commons

By Haleema Saheed

Batley library held a banned book exhibition throughout September to raise awareness about the importance of free speech.

Several libraries across the Kirklees area held small events and Batley library set up a display filled with books that had been banned across the globe.

The display generated so much interest, with people borrowing the books, that it had to be restocked.

Fiona Senior, library assistant at Batley, said: “Many forget what a huge privilege it is to have freedom of speech and it’s something to celebrate.

“Freedom of speech is very important, and we should value it, because not everyone has the privilege to read and say what we want.”

The display featured books such The Colour Purple, which was banned because of the incest and rape within the storyline, and To Kill A Mockingbird for its use of inappropriate language; Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned in China for corrupting the minds of young children.

A range of children’s books has been banned in some countries for numerous reasons, with Roald Dahl’s The Witches, causing controversy amongst feminists.

It has been banned in America on numerous occasions but is constantly challenged, for devaluing the lives of children as well as the promotion of witchcraft.

Other banned titles include: Harry Potter, James And The Giant Peach, Alice In Wonderland and Where’s Wally.

To Kill A Mocking Bird, banned for inappropriate use of language. Image: Wikimedia Commons

High school English teacher Fazila Patel said: “Students should be exposed to a rich and broad selection of books to allow an understanding of different cultures, backgrounds and history.

“Limiting choices would have a detrimental effect on our own understanding of the perspectives of others.”

Freedom of speech is regarded as a fundamental British right and the aim of this campaign was to make people understand that we should value it and use it.

Books are banned for all sorts of reasons from portraying negative attitudes to going against the ideologies of a country.

Censorship of the press as well as books and media, is a global issue with large amounts of the population facing restrictions on what they can say, read and access.

The event was effective and had a great turnout, leading to open discussions on censorship and the impacts of it.

Fatima Seedat, 22, who is an English graduate, said: “The lack of freedom of speech would make the world blind.”

What do you think?