In my country, we had our share of banned books before 1989, and they were extremely popular.
They were popular not because of their intrinsic quality, but because they were banned by the socialistic government and promoted by western intelligence agencies.
Unfortunately for them, the instant the ban had ended, Czech people immediately lost their interest in banned books and writers, and now those appear only on the official agenda while nobody is, in general, willing to read them just for the ordinary reasons why to read books - for fun or education.
To be on the safe side, not all of those books were terrible, but the immense popularity among people was drawn upon the fact they were banned.
Today’s world is literally plagued by countless books, and trying to ban any of them will lead to promoting them as they get a hint of attraction, very likely undeserved.
If I were a writer craving popularity, I would beg the authorities to ban me. If I had copyright to a book, I would bribe the authorities to put this book on the blacklist. Then, I would start complaining about my book being banned, bursting into crocodile tears and screaming: "Free speech in danger! Banned books here! Buy before it is too late!" Just business as usual.
Anyway, I strongly advocate against reading banned books just because someone considered them harmful. The Internet offers a plethora of contradictional opinions, similarly as bookstores offer different perspectives on anything, so taking books out of libraries (especially with the Internet available) and burning them down seems like a fool’s errand.
With regards to the intellectual capacities of people governing this world, I wish they were not losing taxpayer money to indulge themselves in a futile book hunt as they have a very urgent duty to educate themselves above the level of a stumbling donkey, raising so beyond the stage of mollusks which is the highest accomplished grade of education they wield graciously.
Free speech, if anything, is the best way how to mix facts, lies, and conspiracy theories in the most elaborate system in the world that serves only one purpose, and this is to make signals blurred with noise.
People only believe what they want to believe. Some will believe that banned books hide truths coming from our alien overlords (as I do) and some will believe that those books were banned for a good reason.
Some may even argue that people should make their judgments by themselves, which feels like utter sci-fi to me because people, including my insignificant self, do not have time to examine and evaluate every piece of writing to decide what those blacklisted treasures are about.
To make it as concrete as possible, what about the latest hysteria with Covid? After reading so many seemingly educated articles fighting for both sides of the conflict, I can only express my deepest admiration for those who think they can navigate their boats in this bloody mess.
The moment one would ban a book about Covid (no matter its standpoint), I can guarantee there will be three groups of people:
- The first who would campaign for the book because the book is filled with truths the official places want to hide.
- The second who would dismiss the book as a pile of crappy superstitions and bad science.
- And finally, the third mildly interested majority who would discuss the book leisurely and forget the topic after a new beefy affair is exposed.
I have to repeat. If someone bothers to ban a book, it doesn't mean you have to bother to read it. It is unlikely that our world can monopolize any information; the superior strategy is to give ammunition to deluded masses and watch them quarreling while nobody minds our shady business.