Censorship in School Libraries
The most debatable and controversial form of censorship today is the banning of books in school libraries. Banning books that educate students is wrong and selfish. Censorship of books in school libraries is neither uncommon nor an issue of the past. Books with artistic and cultural worth are still challenged constantly by those who want to control what others read. The roots of bigotry and illiteracy that fuel efforts to censor books and free expression are unacceptable and unconditional. Censoring school books in libraries can often lead to censorship of our basic freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. In some cases, a minority ends up dictating the majority in censorship cases. To be told what is permissible reading material and what is not is a direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The First Amendment of the Constitution is the most important and debatable of them all. The First Amendment states; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, of prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Freedom of expression is an inalienable human right and the foundation for self-government. Freedom of expression defines the freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, association, and the corollary right to receive information. Human rights and intellectual independence; the two are inseparably linked. Freedom of opinion and determining what you want to read is not
derived from or dependent on any form of government or political power. This right is inherent in every individual. The power of freedom cannot be yielded, nor can it be denied. True justice comes from the exercise of rights.
Students enjoy going to the library and being able to read what they want to read, without any indecision. As soon as a censor claims a book should be censored, the student's hope of reading that book is diminished. Censorship, ignorance, and limitations on the free flow of information are the tools of dictatorship and oppression. The "tyrant" simply chooses to pull that book from the shelves of knowledge, and the students right of the First Amendment is violated (Appendix A).
Books like The Chocolate War, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Of Mice and Men have been placed on the controversial bookshelf of many school libraries. The Chocolate War and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings were challenged for reasons of being "sexually explicit" Of Mice and Men, challenged for using "offensive" language. Also Harry Potter for encouraging witchcraft, sorcery, and Satanism. If it's not one "ism," it's another. Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time has been targeted by censors for supporting New Ageism, and Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for promoting racism. Sometimes books are banned or censored for unusual and often ridiculous reasons. An example of such banning is of Little Red Riding Hood in two California districts in 1989. In the story, Little Red Riding Hood is bringing a cake and a bottle of wine to her grandmother's house. The districts claimed they were concerned because of the use of alcohol in the story. Where does that leave today's
children? It appears that the children of today are in danger of being "protected" from a lot of great literature. I feel that by the time a child can read these books, they are at an age where they can distinguish between things that should and should not be said. I think that it is up to the parents to educate the child that just because they say it in the book, does not mean he or she should do or feel the same. I can just imagine next years headline: "Goodnight Moon: Banned for Encouraging Children to Communicate With Furniture!" "If we got rid of everything these people object to, there'd be nothing...
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