Why sanitizing books is worse than banning them

Source: The Hill
by Elizabeth Grace Matthew

“For many who cherish classic literature, sanitizing books like [Roald] Dahl’s (which, for all their iconic prickliness, could hardly be called offensive by any rational person) and Fleming’s (which do reflect racist attitudes that were sadly common at the time when the novels were published) is almost as bad as banning them. But sanitizing a book is not almost as bad as banning it. It’s worse. When a book is banned, at least people know whether or not they read it. In fact, banned books often become forbidden fruit, and people have always had an Edenic compulsion to possess whatever is off limits. Banning a book has always served in part as a way to advertise it. The sanitization process, by contrast, leaves people believing that they’ve read a given work, when in fact they have read an imposter.” (03/13/23)