Book Bans Limiting First Amendment Right

Since the beginning of time, libraries have been a primary source of information available to the general public. Libraries provide more accurate and reliable sources for citizens of any age to draw from. Local libraries and schools allow community members access to a variety of sources to be used for research, pleasure, or exploring. Books afford a world of knowledge. Knowledge is a right not a privilege and no single person should be allowed to regulate how others choose to exercise that freedom.

According to the United States Supreme Court ruling. Board of Education v. Pico, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.” Many people believe books involving sexual content or violence should not be allowed in school libraries so as not to poison young minds with adult fantasies. Parents, based on the first amendment right of free speech,  have the right to express their subjective opinion on what type of literature their children are allowed to read, however they are not allowed to use these opinions as a valid argument to limit the reading rights of all. Many complaints are primarily focused on the excessively popular, 50 shades of grey . One librarian under the pseudonym, “Annoyed Librarian”, shares how members of the community react to the library’s decision not to add the book to its shelves in the summer of 2012. One particularly bitter civilian claims “It is not the library’s place to determine what it makes available to the public based on subjective opinion.” While this may seem true, it is up to the library to follow their particular selection policy, which is up to the library to create. The idea of banning in its entirety is based on each individual’s subjective opinion, whether it be directed toward a certain genre or a certain piece of literature. If everybody expressed objective opinions based solely on facts, libraries would have no pressure to ban books found offensive to certain groups of people. What one group finds offensive and obscene, another group may accept the same concept a harmless expression by the author.

Another side of the issue was presented in “The Charlotte Observer” by Kay Mcspadden. According to Mcspadden, there have been over 11,300 books challenged since the first released book ban week in 1982. She understands why parents may dislike their child reading a certain book, even to the point of offering an alternative. She does however believe “such censorship is ill-advised, signaling to a child that his parent’s values aren’t strong enough to withstand scrutiny. Like many on the other side of the book ban argument, Mcspadden allows herself to understand the other side of the argument without completely agreeing with their end goal. She truly believes “Books enlarge our minds; book bans shrink them.”

The controversial topic of banning books is far from being resolved. Under the First Amendment, people have the right to express their opinion so long as they don’t impede on the rights of others. So long as the fight to ban “controversial” books remains legally sound under the First Amendment, books deemed questionable will be repeatedly put on trial based on the purely subjective opinions of their challengers.


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