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Censorship Of Books: Freedom Of What?

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Social Issues

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The denotative meaning of censorship is the examination of books,
letters, movies, etc. and the removal of anything thought not right for the
people to see or hear. In other words, censorship takes away the right of
the individual to decide what is appropriate for them to see or hear. What
might offend one person may not offend another person, and it is unjust to
prohibit someone from reading or seeing 'inappropriate' material based on
the opinion of someone else. Censorship occurs quite frequently in the
school system. Books are banned from libraries and literature teachers
constantly have to change the material covered in their course as a result
of complaining parents. If a child goes home and discusses a topic they
learned in school and their parents don't like it, many parents
automatically go ballistic. Many try to get rid of it before they have
even taken the time to read it. If a parent feels that certain material is
inappropriate for children to see, then they shouldn't let their chi ldren
read it, but they shouldn't be able to decide what their neighbor's child
should and should not read. That would clearly violate our first amendment
right. The first amendment, in part states that Americans have freedom of
the press (to publish any material they want.) This also means that we can
access any of these materials. It doesn't mean we have the freedom to
control what others access, that would be referred to as communism.
In Triverton, Rhode Island a middle school class was assigned to
read a book called Go Ask Alice. The book portrays a fifteen-year-old girl
who is trying to overcome a drug addiction. It is written as a series of
diary entries she kept during the rehabilitation process. A parent
complained to the school about a dirty word in the book. The 'dirty' words
were an effect used to show what the girl was like while she was on drugs,
and they were only used in instances where emphasis was appropriate.'The
book actually gave us the true effect of what drugs do to you and how you
can become addicted to them so easily,' one student stated in response to
the banning of the book. Another student stated, 'It is about the real
world. It is not a book about fiction, and that is what scares people.'
Ignoring the comments of other students and parents who were also opposed
to banning the book, the principal heeded that one complaint and
confiscated the twenty-two copies of the book. He also removed all copies
from the school library, denying all students access to it. He then filed
a complaint about the book without even reading it. The steps this
principal took to ban the book were in violation of the school's policy and
procedure for banning a book, which was created and is enforced by the
school board. He didn't even bother to consult the school board about the
situation. Needless to say he was reprimanded for his actions and justice
was served. Does this mean Go Ask Alice was returned back on the book
shelves where it belonged? Hardly. Not only was that ...

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Keywords: books about freedom of speech, censorship literature, freedom and censorship, freedom of speech, freedom of expression

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