Banned Book contest sparks critical thinking

Myah Phillips

Fullerton College students had the opportunity to read a banned book and write an essay regarding its censorship through the library’s third annual essay contest. On Tuesday, Oct 23, the library announced the winners. In first place was Cadence Lusinsky, in second was Eduardo Munoz, and in third was Paulo Flores-Arvizu. Honorable mentions were Safiyah Lakhany and Victoria Barrios.

Winners and judges
The winners of FC's third annual Banned Book Contest were recognized with prize money. Photo credit: Val Macias

Originally having been recommended to him by his teacher when he was eleven-years-old, Munoz’s love of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain originated from its use of “bad language,” but continued due to its use of satire to criticize what deserves criticism.

“Thanks to Twain’s book, we get to see this common kid fight with himself on what the actual moral choice is: slavery and racism is wrong,” said Munoz. “That’s why I chose this book. It shows us how to talk to people from the other side of the proverbial fence, to help them reach a conclusion set in reality and moral ethics without resorting to violence, slander, or abuse.”

Also appreciating satire’s role in critiquing the flaws of society, Lusinsky wrote about the ancient greek novel Lysistrata, which, despite its age, is quite topical as it discusses gender equality and war.

“Books allow you to enter new worlds and see life from different perspectives. As a result, they can help us better understand others and ourselves,” said Lusinsky. “In my essay, I wanted to emphasize that banned books are especially great for this purpose. Often, the reason why banned books are controversial is because they offer unique and thought-provoking perspectives.”

For their efforts, the contest winners were awarded prize money ranging from 200 dollars to 50 dollars. The honorable mentions were each awarded with a 15 dollars FC Dining Services card. Both Lusinsky and Munoz plan on spending the money on school.

The winners were selected based upon their ability to analyze and critique censorship and its role in the literary community.

“Ideas should be challenged and discussed, they shouldn’t be silenced. I believe dialogue, logic, and reason should be the tools in which we fight for our beliefs,” said student programming librarian Valentin Macias. “Books are meant to foster ideas, and create debates, and thus should not be banned, or censored.”

“I had hoped that with the more students that enter, that it would mean the more students who take the responsibility of thinking critically and to just be more intellectual. Ask themselves and others questions about freedom, censorship, and literature,” Macias added. “This could lead to bigger and broader questions regarding censorship.”