Monday, March 29, 2010

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I have a great many favorite books, but this one is definitely near the top of the list. Hosseini writes a beautiful story here about two boys connected in a way neither of them knows about until one is older- rich, privileged Amir and his servant, Hassan. They grow up together in Kabul, Afghanistan, before and then through the torment the country is thrown into. An unspeakable act and then a lie brings them apart, and it's not until Amir is an adult and is brought back to Kabul from the U.S. to save Hassan's son that he finds a way to "be good again," in the words of his father's best friend Rahim Khan. Hosseini, in both this book and his second, A Thousand Splendid Suns, weaves history and fiction together beautifully to create an unforgettable book.

This book was challenged in 2008 and 2009 in Morgantown, North Carolina; Marianna, Florida; and Champaign, Illinois because of vulgar language (use of the c-word, the f-word describing homosexuals, other curses) and a sodomy rape scene. There are also other violent scenes in the book and the overall theme of war, plus the implication of a boy being prostituted to grown men; however, none of this is gratuitous or pointless- it all serves the plot in a meaningful way. While some parts are hard to read without wincing or crying, it is a beautifully written novel, and one I would recommend to anyone. And as with The Lovely Bones, the book version is much, much better than the movie.

UPDATE: Got less than halfway through Leaves of Grass. Whitman is talented, no doubt, but the lengthy poems and oft-repeated phrases in different pieces got to me, and I had to stop. Got to read Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, however... review to come soon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Take Your Pick.

All banned somewhere in our wonderful country. Read one today. You won't be disappointed.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

This instant classic of a series first caught my attention when I was in the third grade, reading a borrowed copy of The Prisoner of Azkaban in my crowded school auditorium. (And yes, I admit it, I started the series out of order.) Since then, I've read the entire saga at least three times, and separate books even more often. I admit I have a special place in my heart for The Order of the Phoenix in particular. In writing this entire series, J.K. Rowling has created a sort of parallel universe in which magic thrives and things we write off as impossible are, on the contrary, very possible. Moreover, she creates real, plausible and relatable characters, and intertwines pop culture and history along with current events into the principal theme of good versus evil.

Of course, that's not enough for some people who can't get past the plotline of Harry and his friends attending wizarding school. Apparently, there's a lot of Group B activity going on in the movements to ban this book- parents in the U.S. believed these books were "evil" and "twisted" and recruited children to the occult. One mother in an Atlanta, GA suburb went on a vendetta to ban the books from the entire county school district, saying that they promote evil and foster the kind of culture where school shootings happen. According to her this would not happen if the kids were assigned the Bible. (Little does she know that a) the Bible itself is a banned book and b) schools cannot assign books of any particular religion when many are represented. It could be seen as an attempt to convert Jews, Muslims, etc. to Christianity.)

There was also an online petition (perhaps one of many) I discovered in my search, as well as a book burning in New Mexico spearheaded by a sermon by Pastor Jack Brock, who said the books were "satanic" and taught children to take up wizardry. Sounds like the normal Bible-beating nonsense some churches like to come up with in order to trap their followers. If you read anything other than "good, pure, wholesome" dreck, you're being lured by Satan, and we can't have that. Brock himself admits he's never read the books, only researched the contents, but he's championing the destruction of a work of art. Fundamentalism at its very best (worst?).

In my eyes, far from being a lure for children to the dark side, Harry Potter is and has been a wonderful read for years. Rowling is a fantastic writer, and she has spun a gorgeous tale that has gotten kids interested in reading again. I only hope she will continue writing in the future.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Currently Reading...

What a week of reading for me. I finished Mary, Called Magdalene, read Tempted by P.C. and Kristin Cast in a day and re-read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares- just because I could. (Before you criticize my personal reading taste, re-read my previous posts.) Now it's on to another banned book (finally!)- Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

So far, I have to say I'm pretty excited about this book. For anyone who knows me, I'm a somewhat poetic person myself and I love reading others' work, especially the classic poets. I love Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings (Especially e.e), and though I never really got the chance to look at Walt Whitman's work, I am taking it now. The first few poems I've read are excellent, eloquently describing life and feelings we may all be familiar with in a fresh and lovely way.

Of course, Whitman came with his own fair share of controversy. When the book was first published in 1855, it was seen as an obscene work and banned in many parts of America for his sexual imagery- both hetero- and homosexual. (Ironically, Whitman had used America as his inspiration.) In fact, it wasn't until the 1860's that he gained popularity stateside. Europe, however, welcomed the book more easily. Despite its rocky history, however, today it is a classic. And I hope I like it as much as I want to. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Freedom of Speech: The Debate

One of the first assignments in my Lit of Censorship class (and yes I'll reference this course a lot) was to write an essay about whether or not we, as American citizens, truly have freedom of speech. The First Amendment to the Constitution reads, as follows (courtesy of

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Fast forward to a couple of centuries later and we have groups trying to ban and censor books, various sedition acts within our history, censorship of news and TV shows, and the charge of a hate crime. Of these things, the last one is the only one I can somewhat agree with... yet still, it attempts to stifle the words and thoughts of certain people. With all of this to deal with, can we Americans really say we can speak freely in our own country?

True, we have it much better than plenty of other countries. At least we don't get arrested and beheaded on the spot when we speak ill of our government. But we do still have cases where people who speak their minds end up getting punished because of it.

Sometimes it's for good reason. After all, blind hatred, racism or prejudice is wrong, right? And anything that can incite certain people or groups deserves to be punished, right? Right, to an extent. Of course, the use of racial slurs or "hate speech" in literature gets a bit hazy. Is it used as a means of authenticity, so that characters that fit a certain time period seem more in tune with the setting? Or is it just a clever way to feed readers the author's own prejudiced and hurtful views? More often than not, I'd say it's the former. A book like Huckleberry Finn (which I'll talk about soon) uses the N-word as a means of having Mark Twain's writing sound authentic; it doesn't automatically mean Twain was a racist or that he was in favor of slavery. The same is true for so many other books dealing with the South or with racism. People need to read between the lines sometimes in order to get the truth.

I believe we truly don't have an unrestricted freedom of speech; after all, that would get plenty of people into trouble. We even censor ourselves from time to time because we know the consequences of our words. The way I think it works is this: our forefathers wrote that amendment into the Constitution likely treating it as a sort of honor system- meaning since we know we can say whatever we want, but doing that would bring about anger or chaos, we take it upon ourselves to decide what to say and what not to say. Or at least, we should- not to the point where everything we say HAS to be politically correct, but where there's a balance of tact and honesty. Make sense?

True freedom of speech can never be really possible, but at least we have something close to it. It's not perfect, but it's there, and we know we must exercise it with equal parts caution and humility. And of course, no matter what, we must fight to retain our free speech because that is what those before us intended.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I read this book in perhaps the worst English class I've ever had (or one of the worst- I've had some clunkers). This was my spring semester of sophomore year, in a class with a mediocre teacher, a 7 a.m. start time and a group of kids who just couldn't give a flip about reading. All of that combined made for a hell of a time- emphasis on "hell."

Even with all of that, though, I saw the genius in a work like this dystopian novel of Ray Bradbury's, which focuses on a fireman in the future named Guy Montag, who takes pleasure in his job of burning books until he meets a girl, Clarisse, and a professor named Faber who show him a different world: a world in which people can think for themselves, and books and ideas are prized. Enamored with this new world, he shirks his old life, with damning consequences.
I read this book feverishly and really cherished its message. Perhaps now more than ever I see the parallel between our world in 2010 and the one he envisioned, and I realize what he meant in writing it. Our complete faith, even dependence upon, mass media- television especially, in his eyes- can lead us to become mindless and complacent, and "turn our brains to mush." This concept is illustrated in Fahrenheit 451, particularly in Montag's wife Mildred whose sole preoccupation is with the "family," a perpetual interactive television soap opera she watches. Strangely enough, however, Bradbury also believed that there were too many groups in American society for censorship to be possible.

As it turns out, a great many of those groups advocate for censorship. This book was consequently banned on grounds of offensive language ("God damn!" being the offending phrase, mainly), radical thinking (burning books including the Bible), portrayal of smoking and drinking, and anti-religious and anti-establishment thinking. In fact, Bradbury's own publisher, Ballantine Books, printed an expurgated copy excluding the words "hell," "damn" and "abortion", and this copy ran for ten printings before Bradbury got wind of it and demanded the original copy be reinstated, which it was in 1980. Irony, we have it.

Even with its battles with censorship and banning, this book stands the test of time, and I am very glad I was taught it in high school. It gets you thinking in ways you may never have thought to think before, and if it may scare some along the way- well, it does its job then. I definitely recommend this book.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I'd wanted to wait until a bit later to even mention this series on this blog (because it is a censored book, shockingly), but recent events (like the release of New Moon, the second installment of the "saga", on DVD) have prompted me to jump forward in the schedule.

Now, I have seen both movies and read all four books, and I've ranted about this series on my personal blog as well, but I figured I might as well make this somewhat legitimate. I first picked up Twilight during my junior year of high school because a bunch of my friends had read it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. After two books, I kind of liked the series (or at least the character of Jacob Black). After four, I was left... underwhelmed.

Before I lash into it, however, let's break down the censoring part. In the Capistrano, Calif. Unified School district, an instructional materials specialist ordered that the books be moved from middle-school to high school libraries. (We presume this is because of "material unsuited to age group."). The specialist then ordered the books to be removed. The order was later rescinded. The series was also challenged in Brockbank Junior High School in Magna, Utah, because of concerns from a parent over "sexual content" in the final installment, Breaking Dawn.

With all of that said, let me just tell you right now: It is not worth the time. First of all, Stephenie Meyer writes like a five-year-old. Barring all of that purple prose she uses to make Bella swoon all over Edward's hard, cold marble body and perfect face, she just doesn't have the chops a truly good writer needs. Her characters are also irritating- the round-character-slash-narrator-written-like-a-flat-character-so-girls-can-imagine-they're-her Bella Swan, coupled with the brooding, stalkeresque, borderline abusive and control freak vampire Edward Cullen make for a pathetically whiny, self-involved and tiresome literary couple. Like I mentioned before, Jacob Black is the only character worth any shred of sympathy- until he undergoes a massive character assassination in Eclipse to make Edward seem more appealing. Everyone else (save for cutesy vamp sis Alice Cullen, and later in Breaking Dawn, conniving vamp sis Rosalie Hale) is pretty much white noise.

Then there is the plot- or lack thereof. Girl moves to small town, hates life, meets boy, finds out boy is vampire, falls in love with him anyway, does stupid crap to get herself in trouble, vampire boy rescues her time and time again, other boy who falls in love with girl is werewolf, wolf boy takes off shirt a lot, wolf boy and vamp boy flex muscles and threaten one another, girl and vamp boy get married after she graduates, girl has sex with vamp boy (necro), girl gets pregnant (impossible), vamp boy's vamp "sister" wants to take baby, girl has vamp baby and becomes vampire, voila, happy ending. Ya-freaking-awn. I mean, when conflict even comes close to happening in Breaking Dawn, Stephenie just shies away. And all of this when Bella can actually fight for herself now. Lame. Not to mention the fact that she breaks all of the rules she herself sets in the first three books, in the final book. Um, what ever happened to consistency?

Can I also mention that it's hopelessly anti-feminist? Bella can barely fight for herself, she can't bear to live without a man in her life, and she can't become a vampire (or have sex with Edward, for that matter) until they marry. Both based on Christian values that a woman's virginity is all that matters and on male domination. And the strong female characters- Rosalie, Victoria (the vamp huntress out to kill Bella), etc.- are all evil. There's also something fishy about Edward and Bella's relationship- he keeps her from seeing her best friend Jacob, he tracks her when she does try to go see him, and all the while he insists that it's for her own good. Since when has he become her father? But girls who are in love with the series insist that it's just "so cute." Really? And if a guy tried to do that in real life, where would he get? Honestly... like we really need more girls out there with hopelessly low self-esteem, using Bella as a role model.

Also, Meyer really did not do her homework on vampires at all. Read Dracula or Anne Rice novels- THAT is what vamps are all about. They can't go into the sunlight at all (because they die, they don't sparkle), they balk at crosses, and oh yeah, they drink human blood. There's imagination and then there's distorting and discrediting the work of authors way more talented than yourself, Steph.

Don't even get me started on the fans, either. Oh, the crazy, deluded fans who only help censorship activist groups' cause, because they can't separate real life from fiction. Fans who dump their boyfriends for Edward and Jacob and Jasper and who pine for a "real-life Edward Cullen." Check out sometime and you'll see what I mean. It's just ridiculous. And God forbid you cross them, because then their fangs come out. Literally. My own cousin (whom I otherwise love dearly) is a Twi-hard and self-proclaimed "vampire geek," and she swears up and down that it's genius and the fact that so many other people loved it means it's good. Um, a bunch of hormonal teens and middle-aged moms don't prove much, except that they're as shallow as Bella when it comes to their men.

This is the first (and hopefully only) book I'll tell you not to bother reading, if you haven't already. I'll probably catch some flak for such a vitriolic post, but oh, well. I tell it like it is, and I say skip it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Do We Define Obscenity?

As I've mentioned before, I got into learning about banned books during my Lit of Censorship class. We used to get into some debates there, and I was struck by one discussion we had in the middle of the semester over the meaning of "obscenity."

Many of the books I have read and researched have been written off by parents and advocacy groups as being "obscene," but how do we even come close to explaining that? Obscenity is an opinion at most; everyone has a different perception of what strikes them as "offensive to morality or decency; depraved; indecent; abominable; disgusting and repulsive" (combined definition courtesy of Take the issue of pornography, for instance. Some find it "obscene"because of some sexual acts depicted; some think it objectifies women (myself included); others believe it is a symbol of artistic expression and therefore should not be censored.

The same is true for literature. A book like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou chronicles the author's life, which was rife with abuse and other unspeakable things. However, this book has been censored on charges of obscenity. So life is obscene? The fact that a woman had to live through this kind of horror is very offensive to morality, yes, but not the writing itself. And furthermore, how can you even censor a person's thoughts and try to persecute them? That would be akin to the Thought Police of George Orwell's 1984 punishing someone for thinking against the system. It's against everything this country stands for, and everything put into the Constitution. At the same time, you don't want to horrify people and expose young children to some themes before they're ready; still, this is why we have regulations to restrict certain media to certain age groups. Why is there a need to censor further?

So you see, the idea of obscenity is a hard one to really streamline. But people want to create court cases and charge authors and artists for it, and that is what I am against. If you don't like something, don't read or look at it; however, don't seek to punish those who have created it. If the rumors are true, it is a free country, after all.

Correct, In More Ways Than One.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

I borrowed this book from my roommate and read it in about a day and a half (as she watched in awe, might I add), and came away from it a bit underwhelmed. The writing was a bit coarse and not what I would expect from a young teenaged girl, but the author got her (his? their?) point across all the same. From her first (innocent) hit of LSD at a party to her eventual overdose, the girl's story is full of dark turns and vows to repent, with little success.

With all of that in mind, the reasons for this book being banned are obvious. Drugs? Teenagers! Out of the question. Our children will become exposed to that and then want to go out and do it, too! they think, and consequently, the book was banned in 2002 (location unknown) and challenged in Berkeley County, South Carolina for blatant and explicit language (street terms for sex, talk of worms eating body parts and blasphemy), drug use, and sexual behavior. It was also retained for optional reading at a middle school in Girard, Pennsylvania despite a grandmother protesting that the book was offensive. Even so, the book has sold millions of copies, showing that people do know the difference between endorsing drug use and depicting the evils of it.

There has also been some controversy as to who actually wrote Go Ask Alice. says that Beatrice Sparks, a writer who has quite a few of these "anonymous journals" under her belt, takes credit as the editor, but guesswork implies that the book has been written by a group of people rather than just one. That makes sense, because the way this book has been written leads me to believe that an adult (or a number of adults), and not a 15-year-old girl, wrote this book. Even so, I think you should read it, despite a few cliches here and there- because after all, it's a banned book, and pretty much every banned book deserves at least a glance. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This was one of those books I'd always wanted to read but never got the chance to borrow or buy it. Then sometime in October, in a Borders in Milford, CT, I spotted it on a shelf and snatched it up right away. I didn't get to read it until about three weeks later (I've a bad habit of buying books when I have plenty to read), but when I did, it haunted me for a while, particularly the beginning of it.
Susie Salmon, the main character, is speaking from the grave- or rather, her place in Heaven- as the victim of a brutal murder by her next-door neighbor. From above, she witnesses the falling apart of her family as her mother retreats into herself, her father obsesses over finding her killer, her killer is working to erase all the evidence, and her friends and sister try to make sense of it all. She watches as life begins to go on without her, and tries her best to point her loved ones in the direction of her murderer.
Though I wished Sebold would have described Susie's heaven, and those she meets there a bit more thoroughly, I found this book incredible- by turns heartbreaking and beautiful. Of course, parents overlook the beauty and reality of it in favor of removing it from school libraries due to the mature content (Susie was raped, then murdered and dismembered). The book was moved to the faculty section of the school library in a Waltham, Mass. middle school and also challenged in a Westport, CT middle school. However, the superintendent believed that middle school students were mature enough to read the book. While I'm inclined to agree that many are- in sixth grade I was reading books much like this one- I can't help but wonder if the parents had some credibility here. Then again, if the book is being taught or allowed in schools, I'm certain that teachers can find a way to teach kids about death and how to cope with it, as it is a part of life- even the murder described in the book, sadly enough. Besides, without going into extremely minute detail, Sebold wrote the murder with touching discretion, and I think readers get the idea without it being too graphic, and I think she's brave for even skimming the surface of such a tough subject.

At any rate, read this book (and don't see the movie- I heard it was nowhere near as good). It's beautifully written and a wonderful story about how a family copes with the loss of a daughter, granddaughter and sister, and how they learn to find life again. P.S. I included both the original book cover and the one they did when the movie came out- I have the copy with the movie poster on it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Looking for Alaska by John Green

This first book I'm going to write about is one I first picked up in my sophomore year of high school, if I'm not mistaken. This was pretty much the year my life revolved around the library in my school- or at least, my lunch period did. At any rate, I devoured this book about a boy named Miles Halter, alias Pudge, who goes to a boarding school in Alabama and finds new friends and falls head over heels for a girl named Alaska Young, a clever, stunningly attractive and self-destructive young woman who's battling some demons. His circle of friends talk, travel, get into trouble and learn a lot from each other, even in the face of a terrible tragedy within the circle.

However deep and poignant this book may be, however, some parents can't get over the sexual innuendos/content and graphic language Green uses. The book was challenged in the Depew, NY, school system, specifically for use within 11th grade Regents English classes, for its content. In the end, the book was retained, with the school requiring students to obtain parental permission in a letter; only 3 parents refused to let their children read it.

When asked in a bonus interview at the back of the book what he thought of the challenges, Green said that he never thought to censor himself while writing, though he got nervous when it came closer to publication. He added, "Teachers have been trained to teach, and they know how to teach, and we need to fight to let them teach uncensored books... in an English class or evolution in a biology class." And he's right. Parents will never let their kids do what Miles, the Colonel and Alaska do, but that doesn't mean that there are no lessons or teachable themes in the story. This book is incredibly written; the characters leap off the page (especially the Colonel, who is my favorite character), and in writing them so vividly Green is able to teach us, through their faults, mistakes, mischief and experiences, the meaning of life and of suffering.

Why Books Are Censored, and Who Censors Them

In my reading and research of these books, I've found a sort of pattern in the sort of people who challenge and request to ban books. For starters, they're all parents who are trying to censor books their children have brought home from school- a place of learning and broadening the mind, at least for some people. With that said, you would think parents would put a bit more trust into the teacher's ability to instruct their children on how to read and interpret the messages of a given book. But that's not always the case.

I've gone as far as to separate these parents into groups, which I'll reference in many of my posts. There's the "If you ignore it, it isn't real" group, which tries to shield their children from some of the many horrors of the real world depicted in books including but not limited to rape, incest, drug abuse, violence and poverty. We'll call this group, Group A. It's tried to censor books such as The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, The Color Purple by Alice Walker and so on. (This group is a close relation to Group D, which I'll get to in a moment.)

Then there's Group B, the "If you read about it, you'll go out and do it" group, which has censored Go Ask Alice, Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez, etc. This group believes that the simple act of reading the books is going to incite teens to go out and do drugs or have raucous unprotected sex or become gay (which we all know is not something you randomly choose to be... or do we?). I guess they believe their own parenting is so faulty that a book is going to make their child do all these things, but I would never want to make that assumption.

Group C is the "This book offends people" group. Yes, there are some people who get offended by words and ideas, and that's completely understandable- I myself hate using those words. But these people don't get why the words are used in literature, and thus they move to censor the books that offend.

Group D, the "Only Write Happy Things" group (and a small one), is probably my favorite. See, they're under the delusion that life is just chock-full of daisies and sunshine and rainbows and all good things. Um, wrong. I separated this group from Group A because I felt that this one refuses to even acknowledge reality, whereas Group A at least admits it's somewhat present (though they still can't bear to let their children read about it).

Finally, Group E is the "We can't dare let our children read this book, even if they're 18 years old" group. They think that their kids aren't old enough/mature enough to handle explicit or offensive content. These are the people banning books I read in middle school from high school libraries. Again, well-meaning, but come on- I'm sure highschoolers are mature enough to handle the content in books like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (Especially if they're off watching the crap on television that they love so much.)

So those are the groups of people I have found who tend to ban and challenge books the most, because of what they find to be offensive language, racial slurs, promotion of certain behaviors such as homosexuality and drug use, and violence, among other things. Have they read the books? I doubt it. But they still wield considerable power as the parents of impressionable young children, and without them I wouldn't have this blog to write. So thank you, all you people out there who have ever moved to ban a book. You make this a very interesting endeavor for me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To Start...

...I should let you guys know what I'm reading now, shouldn't I?

So, I really didn't notice this until today, but the book I'm reading somewhat ties into Women's History Month. After all, Mary Magdalene was a woman in history, and the only woman truly close to the inner circle of Jesus Christ, the disciples. Also, the way Margaret George writes suggests that she is a woman beyond her time- she learns how to read despite her parents' wishes, she speaks her mind and is a strong, intelligent young woman with a tireless faith in God. Of course, people still debate over whether she was a prostitute, or a church leader, or this or that, but above all she is a woman with clear faults, as I can tell from my reading so far. In her childhood she happened to pick up an ivory idol of a pagan god, the spirit of which later apparently possessed her when she failed to dispose of it according to her religion's Law. Other spirits soon grab hold of her, forcing her to obey their command, and... that's about as far as I've gotten. It's slow-going at first, but compelling enough to keep me occupied for the rest of the month, and then it's back to all my lovely challenged and banned books so I can actually get something onto this blog. :)
So, Reading Now: Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Introduction.

Welcome to The Book Project. This is a blog that deals with the reading, interpreting and recommendations of books that have been challenged or banned in one school district/library or another.

The notion of "banned books" fell into my lap in Jeffrey Perchuk's Literature of Censorship class, my final semester of high school. I had wanted a different elective for English and thus wasn't expecting much of anything when he passed out a list of the top banned books in the United States. As I looked over the list, my jaw dropped at just how many of them I had read as a youngster. Though the rest of the class wasn't quite as exciting, the idea of a book being so controversial that people could want it not read at all appealed to me long after I had graduated.

In my semester at the University of New Haven, I looked up lists of banned books, marking down those I'd read and making a note to buy or borrow and read those I hadn't yet. I did this while my roommates slept at night or while I had spare time between classes. Somehow the idea snowballed into creating a space to write about the books I had read and discovered, trying to find out just why they were challenged or banned. The result is this blog, which will be a record of challenged and banned books as I read and interpret them. As a bookworm and aspiring writer/journalist myself, I find that there's not much more offensive than the oppression of words and ideas. Everyone should have a chance to tell their story, whether it may offend or not, or whether it may or may not be a happy tale. Above all, no one has the right to withhold the truth, because after all... beautiful lies are still lies. Besides, ignoring the facts doesn't erase them.