September 21-27 is Banned Books Week in the United States, as established by the American Library Association. We can observe it in Canada too. We live in a society where we believe everyone should learn to read, that reading is important, and that people should have the right to read what they want to read. So many of our fundamental rights and freedoms are represented in the fight for educated, literate citizens to have control over what they read. Sadly, our society also has powerful forces that work against those freedoms. Sometimes those countering forces are well-meaning, hoping to protect us from lies, hate, propaganda and such. Sometimes these countering forces are even necessary, as we seek to protect children from pornography and other age-inappropriate material. Yet a free and vital democracy requires that individuals, not the state, determine what is acceptable reading material and what is not acceptable. Parents must be able to protect their children from the mistakes of society, yet the state must also protect children from the mistakes of their parents. There are no easy answers in all this, yet that is not a reason to shy away from this vital issue.