Censorship has become a long standing practice within our society. Who gets to decide what American citizens say, read or view? There are organizations that review and rate, guard or block information. Governmental entities create laws enforcing censorship and place judgment against those that break those laws. These restrictions often result in conflict against them and in favor of protecting our civil rights. The practice of censorship by authoritative, policy-making entities is in conflict to our constitutional rights, including the rights of our children.
Establishments assume the responsibility to protect through censorship. Churches protect their members by prohibiting certain types of movies, music and even dancing. Schools protect children from inappropriate media in school. Books are banned from student curriculum due to sexual situations or religious beliefs. It may be comforting to some adults to know that our children are protected by our churches and schools. This is especially the case when a parent is paying for a private education.
Is it shocking to know that many pieces of classic literature are banned from classrooms even public school classrooms and libraries? The books Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain each have a recorded history of banishment due to (respectively) "political theories" and “racist aspects”. (Karolides, Bald, and Sova, 15, 336). I read Animal Farm as a school assignment many years ago. I learned so much about due respect and equality among humans that I cannot imagine a school forbidding it in student curriculum. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provides illustration of a friendship during a period in history to a child given the opportunity to read it.
In extreme cases, such as the recent controversy surrounding Harry Potter, parents are urged to forbid certain books, movies or even television shows even at home. This is beyond the scope of the usual authority. In the South Park television episode “Death”, parents are so busy protesting against a television show and defending its banishment that they are not paying attention or providing explanation to their children. While this depiction is extremely exaggerated due to its satirical nature, the demonstration of the parents’ fanaticism and resulting neglect of child supervision and instruction should be seriously contemplated. (“Death”). If parents actively participate in their children’s entertainment choices, rather than prohibit, they will strengthen family bonds and provide emotional growth.
It is truly our individual right in this country to choose what books we read and what they are about. Proof against censorship is demonstrated in the fact that an important work can be defended and reinstated and be acknowledged for its worth. “The First Amendment right to distribute literature also protects the right to receive it.” (“Students,” par. 5) Children need to learn about the...