Except that book banning is not the answer to the problem of offensive literature. Religion and morals aside, banning books is completely antithetical to the principles on which our country was founded. Publishers and authors have the legal right to produce what they want, and consumers have the legal right to access it. When we try to forcibly prevent access to materials we feel are offensive or harmful, we are standing in the way of publishers and authors who are trying to make a legal profit and to have their voices heard. We are also trying to prevent access to consumers, who have the legal right to buy (or borrow) and read what they want, according to the dictates of their own conscience.
Which brings me to the next problem with book banning, closely related to the first. I don't know a lot about book banning, but I suspect that those who try to get books removed from school and library shelves are genuinely concerned about the harm that they believe certain books may inflict. Many books do contain racial, sexual, occult, vulgar, and other material that can be spiritually or emotionally harmful, and I think that most people with a moral compass of some kind would agree The thing is, we do not live in country that officially endorses a particular religion or moral code. We are all allowed to live by the religion and/or moral code that we believe to be right, as long as it's within legal boundaries. The exception might be for literature that threatens a physical danger somehow, such as, perhaps, a book that encourages genocide or the assassination of political leaders. As a general rule, though, we Americans must follow the principle of "live and let live." We don't want others to impose on our right to read what we want; therefore, even if we are 100% convinced that we have the moral high ground, we should not try to impose on the right of others to read--or allow their kids to read--what they want.
I realize that the driving issue among many of those who challenge books is a concern for the youth who may be reading them, not a desire to impose on anyone's moral and legal freedoms. Since protecting teens from content that is too trashy or mature for them is the main reason for What's In It?'s existence, along with providing a way to highlight YA's literary gems, I completely understand. However, there is a big difference between providing information to parents about problematic content in books and trying to do their job for them by forcing the removal of books they may not mind their kids reading. As ill as it might make me to watch a parent hand his or her teen Looking for Alaska, Pretty Little Liars, or Gossip Girl, for example, my right to step in ends with letting the parent know what those books contain. No matter how firmly we may believe something is wrong with a particular piece of literature, we must respect the right of parents to make choices for their teens according to their consciences--not our own. We cannot rightfully step in and make decisions for their kids by force, which is what book banning does.
Don't misunderstand me. I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to change a school's mind on an assigned book. I don't think there is anything wrong with insisting that a school allows parents to request an alternative book for their students (which I have done with success in the past). I also don't think there is anything wrong with trying to persuade other parents and caregivers to our point of view about inappropriate books. I don't think there is anything wrong with giving a book a bad review (if it's honest), nor do I think it's wrong to ask libraries to post warnings on books and to ask publishers to change their standards (both of which are things I would do if I had the time). To try to actually forcibly remove a book that has made its way to a public library or to the public marketplace in a free country, however, is more dangerous in the long run than the actual books that concern us. And that is something I definitely cannot support.