What is Censorship?
Censor-ship- The practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts. This is the Merriam-Webster definition of censorship. However some may argue that this vague definition sheds little light on the many cases of censorship. People against censorship such as English scholars would argue that censorship is far more complex than the definition that Merriam – Webster has offered. Those against censorship would probably agree with the expose offered by www.conservativetruth.org, and it is as follows; Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it!” Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone. What has been offered to us by www.conservativetruth.org seems to be quite bias. It seems if we are to ask supporters of censorship we would find that the definition once again changes quite drastically. We would be told that censorship is the right of society to protect young minds of the future generations from empty rhetoric or mature subject matter. Therefore the question to address is if censorship persists, then is intellectual freedom compromised. Which leads us to the history of censorship; now we will examine the roles of parents, teachers, the community, and government officials on censorship. As well as to how it relates to race, gender, and class. Perhaps then parents can answer the question for themselves to censor, or not to censor? Is censorship a legitimate instrument in regulating the moral and political life of the population? History of Censorship
For centuries books have been challenged, burned, and censored according to the moral constraints of various segments of American society. The first book burning in America took place in 1650, in Colonial Massachusetts. William Pynchon published his pamphlet The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption that dealt with the doctrine of atonement. After its publication, the General Court confiscated his written work and sentenced the book to be burned. Even after the Bills of Rights were established, the right of free speech was still being denied, as evidenced by the many examples of censorship in America. Reasons Books Are Censored
Literature is frequently censored when it oversteps socially accepted norms. “Anything that veers from traditional perspectives on sexuality, social roles, parental authority, and a wide variety of other such matters is considered taboo” and subject to censorship. Instead of exploring these taboos and breaking down the confusion which may exist, the books are completely banned and ignored. According to a national survey conducted in 1996 by People for the American Way, the primary reason most material was challenged was due to sexuality that was offensive or which contained the acceptable norms of that area of the country. The second reason most Material was banned was profane and objectionable language. The notion of censorship is more sensitive when it involves minors in a public school setting. What rights, restraints, and freedom to learn do these children possess? Does the First Amendment of the United States apply to citizens under the age of eighteen?
First Amendment and Free Speech
While the First Amendment constitutionally ensures the right to free speech, it is constantly...