I have used the word ‘barbaric’ countless times today in regard to Chris Grayling MP banning books being sent to prisoners. For me, it is entirely an act of barbarism. Oxford Dictionaries online defines barbaric as, ‘savagely cruel’, also as, ‘primitive, unsophisticated’. This act is all of that, and more.
Books are educational. They offer us an insight into other people’s worlds, cultures and, most importantly, they deliver a universal truth. In fact, a piece of advice aspiring writers are often given is: ‘write a universal truth’. In other words, people read to learn, to better themselves, to become more worldly. Of course, when we are looking for a new book, we probably don’t actively seek the novel that’s going to offer that universal truth. But, whether we enjoyed the book or not, I imagine we will come away from it having learnt something. Sometimes we don’t even realise we’ve taken a message on board or that a character has touched us in a particular way. Other times, a book riles us, it confirms our understanding of our Self and that, too, builds our sense of worth and confidence. The joy of reading is learning and reacting. Take this away, and we are faced with a shell. We gain nothing.
In taking books away from prisoners, aren’t we essentially taking away their chance to rehabilitate? Aren’t we saying, ‘The world is closed to you. You will not become a better member of society. We have no time for you.’ For one man to make such a bold and, ironically, uneducated rule, is entirely ridiculous. I’d be interested to know if professionals in the prison service agree with him. Books are used as a reward for good behaviour in prisons and by blanket banning them, isn’t Grayling administering a blanket ban on bettering oneself?
Books have been banned throughout the ages because of war, politics or societal pressures. However, I’d like to think that in the twenty-first century we could stop one man from making such a drastic mistake.
Reading is not the crime here. Banning books? Now, that’s barbaric.
If you agree with me, please sign the petition below.