My initial reaction when our instructor, Kate Scarbrough, began to tell us our topics for the research paper was fear. As the other topics were being assigned: taxes, global warming, and state lotteries issues, I was led to anticipate the worst topic would be assigned to me. Finally, Scarbrough stated I was researching the censorship in schools and surprisingly, I was satisfied. Our school, Seaman High School, has had numerous events in the past couple years involving this issue: newspaper articles, posters around the school, and even interviews on SVTV, Seaman Vikings Television, over their opinion on the topic.
This brought to my attention the amount of books that are banned from the schools with no plausible reason. My first thought about banning books is that it’s unnecessary and unfair; if someone has an issue with a book it could initially be banned. Furthermore, I feel that people can be oversensitive to certain topics, although we should still listen to their concerns, we should also keep in mind our freedoms established in the First Amendment.
Aside from that, I realize I have more to learn about the subject and after researching both sides of the controversy, banning books in schools, I will seize a firm stance on the issue at hand. In the past, banning books has successfully been done when a book was not liked. The process of book banning was effortless, so people took the initiative to prohibit the books that weren’t in their favor. “In ancient Greece, stories were banned or changed before most people could read them.
Sometimes the written works were burned. That was a good way of permanently getting rid of a book, because the printing press wasn’t invented yet. In Nazi Germany during the early 20th century, books deemed unacceptable by Adolf Hitler’s government were commonly burned in public as a way of instilling fear and blind obedience into the people there” (Burned and Banned). This proves banning books have been an continuous issue for centuries; in fact, it’s a notorious issue that’s been occurring around the world.
Moreover, in the past four years, the United States school districts have attempted to ban two hundred fifty books from thirty-one different states (Chalk Talk). That’s a numerous amount of books; in which, nearly all of us have read before. Surprisingly, a profuse amount of books that are requested to be banned, are one that we read in our high school’s English classes: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Anna Frank: The Diary of a Young girl, Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Even the books we read as children have been challenged to be banned: The Captain Underpants Series, Winnie-The-Pooh, Wizard of Oz, and The Harry Potter Series (BuzzFeed); furthermore, if one word or idea is disagreed with, a parent or guardian can attempt to put that book on the ban list. Marian Sweany, Seaman High School’s librarian, has dealt with this issue right here at our school. She explains how books become ban, “It can take one person to get upset about a word, and another person to jump on the bandwagon and agree for a book to be on the ban list.
Most people don’t even read the whole book to realize the moral of the story” (Marian Sweany). This explains how sensitive some parents are. They may have the best intentions; however, they want the utmost best for their child so they attempt to keep them away from the corrupt world. Whether they believe the book is teaching them information against their religion, using vulgar language, or creating an “unhealthy” image in their children’s head, parents feel strongly about this concern and they assume everyone else should be ban from this sort of “crude” learning too.
Image (Challenges by Reason) This graph is an example of all the reasons people use to challenge a book to be banned. The top three reasons a book was challenged in 1990 to 2010 was that it contained sexually explicit details, situations that were unsuitable to the age group, or incorporated offensive wording. For instance, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a book we all read in high school, is a literature first challenged by a Concord, Massachusetts’ Public Library in 1885 (Censorship Histories of World Literature, 398).
They claimed it was trash that was only intended for the slums; moreover, they were offended by the way the characters spoke. Recently, in 1994, at Taylor County High School, the book was challenged because the writing held racial comments, improper grammar, and also didn’t repel slavery (398). This sets an example of how a minor flaw can result in people grasping the wrong idea. Additionally, it can cause an educational book to appear on the ban list for the entire community when the book simply needs to be read and understood to receive the educational purpose of the story.
Image(Business Insider). This picture is a symbol that explains that even one of the most popular series, translated into at least sixty languages and sold more than two hundred and fifty million books, has been challenged to be ban (Censorship Histories of World Literature, 240). The reason for this has been a couple of reasons: it showed children that there was “good witches” and “good magic”, It promotes that rules can be ignored, showed children that drug use is acceptable, and that witchcraft is real (241-242).
Moreover, the numerous reasons the series was challenged to be banned were personal reasons that people shouldn’t be able to apply to the entire school. Moreover, the argument is whether or not the schools should have the power to prevent their community to read certain books or if it’s an invasion of their rights as an American citizen. School boards shouldn’t have the power to deprive a student of the right to read a book. Parents can control what their own child reads, but when they attempt to ban a certain book for the entire school district it become complicated.
Someone cannot ban a book strictly because their own opinion is that the book is a poor influence; furthermore, one must have a valid reason behind the request to ban a book. The Supreme Court case in 1982 involving The Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico established this with a case to determine whether or not the school board could set up a committee to determine the appropriateness of the book for their school district to carry. “The Court stressed that the Constitution does not allow the suppression ideas.
Thus, the intention of the removal is the focus of the inquiry. A book cannot be removed simply because a school board dislikes the ideas in a book and want to suppress them” (Chalk Talk). The article then explains that although the book can’t be removed based on personal feelings, it may be removed based on “pervasive vulgarity” or “educational unsuitability”. This means that the book can and only should be removed if a book promotes offensive behavior or doesn’t meet the objectives of an educational purpose.
Furthermore, when people attempt to ban a book they almost always have the best intentions. They attempt to protect each other’s minds about the issue in which they strongly disagree with. Seventy-five percent of efforts to have a book removed is aimed at children or young adults (Chicago Tribune). This gives an example that nearly all people that attempt to challenge a book are parents who want their kids in their community to read a more educationally beneficial book; likewise, they wouldn’t be compelled to feel uneasy about the book their child comes home with.
Of course parents don’t want their child to pick up a book that gives them the wrong concepts, especially in their own school library. “They’re teaching kids the Big Bang,” Lopez told the board, according to The Post. “They’re teaching kids lies. The world was created 6,000 years ago. In my son’s elementary school book, it says the world was created several million years ago” (Church & State). This explains the logical concern parents have while the school’s books are teaching their children the opposite of how their attempting to raise them.
According to the Congressional Digest authors attract the readers by writing provocative books. “It is a sad commentary on the depravity of human nature that the more salacious the book the more risque the play, the more suggestive the work of art, the wider the appeal, the greater the sale, the bigger the audiences. Publishers and producers are keenly aware of this! Hence anything that may restrain unfettered latitude in appealing to this human frailty raises strong objections” (Congressional Digest). These types of books draw a person in for the wrong reasons.
They promote the destructive topics; moreover, it may teach children something that they shouldn’t have an insight or be worried about yet. Consequentially, as our generation grows, it becomes normal to hear and identify an increased amount of vulgar ideas around us. We wear less clothing, listen to music about sex and drugs, and we’re more disrespectful to our peers. Despite that, a profuse amount of students already knew about the actions described and may even have used words mentioned in the books, but that doesn’t mean the school should excuse it. “If we give them a book with that smut in it, it legitimizes it” (Indianapolis Star).
This explain that by allowing the children in our schools to read books that put the wrong ideas in their heads is a way of the school board telling them it’s okay to read that book and learn more about the degrading subject. Image (Pabbis). This photo shows a committee that was formed throughout the United State to help protect children from books that may have lousy intentions or simply isn’t teaching the children what they should be learning at a young age. Young children shouldn’t be learning about sex, rape, drugs, profanity, or other subjects that don’t have value.
Even if they know about them, it shouldn’t be talked profusely about in the book their reading for that month. Now that I have researched and thought about both sides of the issue, I believe that banning books in schools is an invasion of our first amendment. Remarkably, my research proved this conclusion to be accurate; moreover, a numerous amount of people agree that the school board should not have the ability to decide what their students can read or not read. In fact, as American citizens, we have the right to say, or think of whatever we please; moreover, we can read into whatever we desire.
Someone may be living through a tough time and want to obtain information over a certain subject that’s troubling them; moreover, the ability to read that subject or book should be permitted with your parent says approval. “‘The word is there for a reason,’ says Jeff Nichols, the executive director of the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Conn. ‘The word is terrible, it’s hurtful, but it’s there for a reason,’ to convey the language and attitudes of Missouri in the 1840s, in a book written in the 1880s when Jim Crow laws were being passed in the South to deprive blacks of their civil rights” (USA Today).
This explains that even when a book has a expletive word, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily an insignificant read. No one should judge a book without reading the entire story and truly understand the moral of the story. Furthermore, children aren’t reading enough as it is. The school districts should be promoting their interests in certain books, not taking them away when one parent disagrees with it.