Censorship in School is Not Justifiable
Walt Whitman once said, “The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.” Between the years 2000 and 2009 a total of 3200 books were challenged in school libraries in an attempt to expurgate, or censor, the content in books provided to students. Today the trend of censorship continues as popular novels such as The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, and Captain Underpants are censored from schools across the nation (Challenges by Reason).Censorship in regards to literature refers to the examination and suppressing of a book because of objectionable material. The process of censorship in school libraries often begins with an outspoken parent, teacher, student, or administrator and ends in the banning or abridgement of a novel deemed inadmissible. Censorship is protecting many students from controversial, immoral, and potentially unsuitable content; however, this is not always the case. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators with different backgrounds, beliefs, and morals are not creating a library pleasing to everyone because of the variety of opinion. Censorship in school is not justifiable, because it restricts discussion and knowledge of new, controversial, and necessary ideas, allows a handful of people to make decisions for a larger group based on opinion, and undermines democratic ideals.
The discussion and knowledge of new, controversial, and necessary subjects is restricted among students due to censorship. Student access to books on topics such as self-harm, sexual orientation, depression, religion, etc. are limited because of censorship. These topics may not be appropriate for all individuals, but these books have the power to save lives, change lives, and awaken students to the realities of the world. Librarian Jen Chesney argues that, “As a Librarian, you have to provide material for every person and issue whether you believe in it or not.” Anti-censorship activists argue that the provision of knowledge should not be restricted on the basis of opinion. Heinrich Heine states, “Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.” Restricting the discussion of new and controversial ideas rather than tolerating and acknowledging the presence of new and controversial ideas is causing more pain than it is worth in the school setting. The idea of censoring reality from school libraries is unreasoned, yet that is exactly what pro-censorship individuals advocate. The discussion and knowledge of new, controversial, and necessary ideas among students is restricted due to censorship.
Censorship in school libraries allows teachers, administrators, peers and their parents to decide what a student may or may not read based on their opinion. Opinion is variable between different groups of people within the school; therefore, a single person or a small group of people cannot be trusted to make decisions on the behalf of a larger group. Kekla Magoon argues, “That no one person...