NLB Controversy – Justified Anger, Unjustified Censure

Books are a writer’s greatest labour.

That’s why writers ought to be most outraged by NLB’s decision to destroy 3 children books. Unlike blogs and articles, books are a painstaking result of brainstorming, drafting, editing, negotiating and publishing. The process is justified by the product; an original creation that will proudly stand in bookshelves and sit in strangers’ homes. To have that earned privilege robbed is an unspeakable pain.

Books are also the best resource for wisdom.

That’s why citizens ought to be perturbed. While LGBT themes may indeed be inappropriate for kids, destruction is a drastic measure that blows the issue out of proportion. It harks back to the mass burning of books by ancient propaganda machines. One can only wonder why the administrators failed to display even a trace of deftness that the surrounding literary works display in abundance.

Libraries play a delicate role. While some insist that there should be zero regulation of books, a degree of it remains necessary for the sake of proper education. Curiosity, without sound judgment, can lead unwary children down morally flawed paths that hinder their future development.

Yet these grey areas exist. At some point, they must be engaged to strengthen one’s moral judgment and cultural acceptance. It’s a task all informed citizens must undertake, for self and others. Moving existing children books with adult themes to the adult shelves seem a no-brainer that was somehow sidestepped.

NLB will hold a dialogue in due time, when things become less emotional. The delay is understandable; probably in the best interests of a divided populace. But when it comes, writers and readers alike will be right to demand more accountancy in the library’s review processes and underlying principles. But it must be constructive. After all, NLB has done lots of good work that must not be forgotten with a single – albeit significant – misstep.

In the meantime, readers can have their own opinions. I’ve heard some deciding to boycott our public libraries in light of this episode. Leave that to our local writers. In this age, there is no lack of activism, but a lack of effective activism. Petitions and letters are enough to make a point. Individual boycotts will not advance the conversation, though they might delight those who could do with less competition for seats.

Don’t punish the other writers as well.

Socio Empath

Hi, my name is Eugene. I am a Sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore. This blog is an invitation: To see our selves as colored by cultures, and to brighten the colors of our society. I seek to help you create freedom in everyday life, with empathy and the sociological imagination.

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