Banned books

Books including novels, non-fiction works such as biographies, plays and poetry may be banned by governments for various political, religious or moral reasons. 

Governments may deem it necessary to censor certain books to protect citizens, or to stop them from accessing information about opposing ideologies which may contradict a government’s form of rulership.

In Russia, under Soviet rule, much Russian literature was banned because it questioned Soviet doctrines. The result was that many banned books were simply published outside of Russia.

Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” was published in the UK but Muslims were incensed.  Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie. The book was also banned in India citing hate speech as the reason. Books that contain what is deemed to be hate speech are banned in many countries including Sweden.

Sexually frank novels have been banned in the past like Henry Miller’s, “Tropic of Cancer”. DH Lawrence’s, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, was banned in the USA, Australia, Canada because of obscenity and offensive language. Books with a focus on child pornography are banned in many countries including the USA and UK.

Education departments can be asked by parents, educators and citizens to remove certain textbooks or reading materials deemed offensive or unsuitable.

Do banned books protect citizens against harmful ideologies and opinion, or is banning books simply a form of censorship?