Saturday, April 25, 2009

Should the "Kite Runner" Be Banned?

Khaled Hosseini has joined the illustrious ranks of Philip Pullman and the authors of a story about gay penguins, after his novel The Kite Runner became one of the books that inspired most complaints in America last year.

The bestselling and critically acclaimed title, the story of a 12-year-old Afghan and his betrayal of his best friend, includes the rape of a boy, and provoked challenges in the US over what objectors saw as sexual content and offensive language. Some objections led to the removal of the book from library shelves, while others saw it replaced with bowdlerised versions minus the offending scenes, according to the American Library Association, which compiles an annual list of the most challenged titles in the country.

Via livemint.com

Let's look at the parents' point of view first. The reasoning would probably go thus: It is never too early to start telling children about racial tolerance, and to start educating them about the history of race; banning Huck Finn, therefore, is a flawed notion. But as a society, we have come to accept that it is sometimes too early to expose children to certain types of sex and violence; the prevalent system of cinema ratings is one example of that. If, as a parent, I expect that my video library will not rent out Basic Instinct to my ten-year-old, maybe I should also reasonably be able to expect that my book library will not rent out The Kite-Runner to my ten-year-old.

But just as we don't (and shouldn't) ban Basic Instinct, I see no reason to pull The Kite-Runner from shelves entirely. Ironically, that would be exactly the sort of draconian move that would fit very well into the The Kite-Runner's plot itself, absolutely against the principles of free expression. It would also be a literary sin, reducing a work to the value of just one of its constituent scenes. Which begs the Question for the Week: What's the middle ground here? Or, to be more provocative: Do we even need a middle ground? Shouldn't we just support free expression unstintingly, and figure that if kids pick up The Kite-Runner and read it, they will unequivocally be the better off for it?

Read the entire articles: 1 and 2

Image Source: nathan17

1 comment:

  1. This was one of the best books I've read in a while. I just loved it! This shouldn't be banned.

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