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Cens*rsh*p *n Sch**ls

October 2, 2012

Caroline Silverman

Professor Johnson

ENG 101-P04


Cens*rsh*p *n Sch**ls

“Freedom [is] to be a round peg in a square hole.” Ironically, those words- written by Aldous Huxley in 1932’s Brave New Word- while most definitely true, come from the same source as one of the literary works most cited today as one of the best portrayals of the confinements of today’s society.

For hundreds of years, censorship of the press, government, judicial, religious and educational systems has been prevalent throughout history. In fact, most people today consider censorship (beyond that of explicit content, that is)  to be a thing of the past- especially here in America. The truth of the matter however, is that censorship continues to be extremely prevalent in everyday life. On a national level for example, the covers of the popular news rag TIME Magazine have had numerous covers run specifically for the United States, while the rest of the global receivers of the publication receive a separate (and unified) cover. Source

So how is it that these notions of censorship continue on national media levels without most of the country giving the topic any conscious thought? Because from a young age, censorship in schools has continued to mentally adhere us to the idea of restricted sources, images and actions by administrative bodies. My blog will discuss on censorship in schools with a specific focus on its various media, the effects on students and how to resolve the issue of censorship.

Several issue we all find annoyances with in school include internet restrictions and

dress code. Beyond the normal confines of “the dollar bill rule” and “no tank tops” are more serious and political restriction such as in the case of Tinker v. Des Moines. In 1968 three public school  students in Iowa were suspended for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam war, despite the fact that there were no disturbances being caused by these students. This issue  sparked national controversy and was taken to the Supreme Court  later in the year, ultimately resulting in a decision that while coinciding with the fourteenth amendment on paper is easily overcome by school boards.  In addition to clothing restrictions, many school students also face limitations within classroom learning and even the content of the news being shown in class, depending on the personal views of the teacher in question. Educationally, teachers are often restricted by the school district in charge to steer clear of many topics within teaching- a prime example of this being creationism v. evolution being discussed in science classes. This restriction, presumably in place to avoid offense or disrespect to any one student while intended well is really more of a hindrance than a help. The fact of the matter is that in the “real world”  beyond school, things that some individuals might find offensive will not simply be omitted from everyday life. Especially something as pertinent as the theory of evolution in a science class. Similarly, many of the news broadcasts shown in classrooms often show a diluted and considerably less controversial headlines in the news. While it is understood that as a school program the broadcast is a considerably shorter length, there is relevance to the fact that several important national and global topics are often left out despite the importance they may have.

In addition to many of these more modern notions, controversial books have been causing a stir since the middle ages. With the concept of banned books being introduced by the Catholic Church several hundred years ago, the list of books to have received the tag have only become more varied in time. From children’s novels such as the Harry Potter series to more conceptually controversial works like the earlier mentioned Brave New World the interest of said books seems to have only increased after the banning, unfortunately for those advocating the book restrictions.Source

The effects of these actions however, is possibly more detrimental than any other factor associated with these restrictions. As stated by Supreme Court Justice William Douglas “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us”. Much of the banned content of these novels, for example, is extremely common in everyday life. Profanity, sexual content, religious intoleration, racial slurs, drug use, violence, homosexual activity are all cited as common reasons to restrict books in the public secondary school system. I however, would argue that once the individual reaches the secondary school level that it would be important for them to be exposed to these ideas if they had not prior, before entering into an environment that will not prevent them from exposure to these things. Especially more frightening is the lack of importance or even recognition of this issue that most teens in the nation seem to have in regard to this watered down version of their education.

    As for what can be done to resolve this national issue, some might wonder the most prevalent method would be thought for change. This coupled with a greater thirst for knowledge and exploration into the daily news and literature of the past would be the most successful method. If you want more information on the fight of censorship, feel free to visit here.

While every second hand piece of information is censored in some way it is the conscious decision to restrict the information being given to the future generations is the most unsettling part of this issue. Despite this truth, each individual can overcome the issues of censorship independently, if not within a classroom setting.

Fight Poster-

Black band picture- Source

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2012 8:27 am

    Your blog was very insightful and most definitely interesting. I enjoyed your use of everyday examples in order to prove your point as well. Your writing pointed out many great points starting with the cencorship rules from a young age. I completely agree and believe that the way students are raised withing the public school system in America is sheltering them from the realities of the real world. The different Time magazines were shocking though. Although I have always known that cencorship was real, I never thought about something such as a magazine being completely altered for US use. My favorite part of your blog was that it raised many questions dealing with the difference of American cencorship vs. cencorship in other countries.

  2. October 8, 2012 8:31 am

    I know first hand what it is like to have censorship at school and being restricted completely. While I do think dress codes should be put in place, I don’t agree with other ways the school system restricts high schoolers especially. While school is suppose to help open our minds to new theories and ways of thinking, they often confine us to things they want us to blieve in. Simple things such as informational websites are blocked from usage at school. Teens especially are at vital point in learning how to formulate our own opinions, but schools hinder us in so many ways.

  3. aarondwashere permalink
    October 8, 2012 9:00 am

    I really liked your blog because it made a lot of true points and brought up how censorship is indeed in our every day lives. The most important ideas in your blog, are those about how censorship can actually restrict learning. For example, the point you made about not teaching evolution in a science classroom for fear of offending students is a real issue. The idea in and of itself is ridiculous. Science class should undoubtably teach about evolution beacuse that is the most supported and backed up theory that we have about our existence. The idea that we shouldn’t teach a supported scientific theory to our students because it may contradict “creationist” beliefs that are not and cannot be proven, is foolish and wrong. I also agree that by banning certain books and viewpoints in school, it actually prevents learning and doesn’t expose srudents to real life. I believe this is a real issue in America today and really needs to be looked at more closely.

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