Schools exist to prepare students for their lives ahead. English classes in particular not only work to improve students’ reading and writing skills, but also to show them different authors’ perspectives of the world. However, students’ learning — and authors’ freedom — could be affected by new calls from parents to ban offensive books from schools. Does banning books suppress authors’ freedom of press, or can it protect children from obscene content?
Book banning is a common occurrence in libraries and schools alike. Some books can offer controversial or outright offensive ideas, and parents and library-goers have looked for years to make them unavailable to students and children. Libraries have removed books from their shelves and schools have removed books from their curriculums in order to satisfy these complaints, only for others to complain about the bans themselves. Those rallying against the bans say that children and students need to be exposed to new ideas to grow as readers and as people, and that silencing certain authors limits their freedom of expression. Others calling for the bans claim that the ideas and language in some books can negatively affect younger readers, by showing them obscene content they are not old enough to handle.
In Miller v. California, the Supreme Court described obscene content as anything overly sexual or offensive without any artistic or educational value, and set the precedent that the First Amendment did not protect obscenity. Ban advocates claim that books featuring racial slurs or controversial themes can be offensive to students and should be banned. However, many books featuring controversy or slurs still have educational value. Take To Kill a Mockingbird, a common target for book banning. It prominently features issues about racism and prejudice, and some characters use harsh racial slurs. However, the author uses these themes to show readers the evils of racism, not to promote it: even though the book has controversial themes, it is still educational for students, and is therefore not obscene. Banning any book featuring strong language or uncomfortable topics not only prevents students from learning valuable lessons about the world, it can restrict authors from reaching a wide audience and freely expressing their views. That is not to say that every book should be allowed: there are mature and graphic books not suitable for students, and a school might not choose To Kill a Mockingbird as required reading because it would be unfit for its English curriculum or too difficult for younger readers to work on.
Banning books from libraries and schools based on controversy alone can lead to suppression of authors’ speech and can take away learning opportunities from students. Students should be able to hear a diverse set of views, teachers and librarians should be able to educate students about the world, and authors should be able to share their views with few restrictions.
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and a SLAPP lawsuit is often initiated by a business or government bodies to oppose people who disagree with them regarding public concern. So this leads into the question, can large businesses and government use their vast amount of money to suppress the speech of smaller, less wealthy, non profit organizations? I believe that SLAPP lawsuits are a violation of the first amendment and freedom of speech. A very notable SLAPP suit was back in 2017, a company ETP, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, has sued Greenpeace to silence advocacy work they’ve done and thus violating their right to free speech. ETP is suing Greenpeace for 900 million dollars, hoping this dollar amount will intimidate Greenpeace enough to have them be silenced. This is completely against the rights the 1st amendment has given us, as they are attempting to completely silence a company with all this money.
This is not the first time Greenpeace has had to deal with a SLAPP case. In 2016, Resolute filed for a lawsuit against Greenpeace. Resolute was exploited for doing irresponsible practices and Greenpeace spoke out, criticizing them. In return Resolute filed a multi million dollar SLAPP suit against them. This is another prime example of a much larger and wealthy company, using their money to silence the critiques of a much smaller company.
SLAPP lawsuits are completely against our rights given to us in the first amendment and are still being used to this day. Why is such a blatant violation of our rights still a very prominent aspect of our businesses and government?
Essential Question: Is banning books from public libraries violate freedom of speech limits to the First Amendment?
Reading is a trait everyone is emphasized into liking and improving from a young age. The real question is where is the line crossed on what is appropriate for these kids to read. Public schools ban several books from their library every year. According to The History of Banning Books in America,” We were facing 700-800 challenges a year…The point of the event was to get people to understand that these books weren’t pornographic or excessively violent, but simply depicting the real world…and that many were classics of American literature.” The number of books being put on trial to be banned is no small number, but many of them do not go through.
This is no new issue the ALA has been banning books since 1990. Books have been being banned since the bible was written. According to the ALA ,the top three reason for banning books include,”Sexually explicit content, offensive language, and “unsuited to any age group”.” Today more books like the bible are being banned; or books that people think depict too many bad things about the real world.
Banning books can be seen as a violation of the First Amendment. The First Amendment grants everyone the right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. In the United States people have the right to print and distribute whatever they for see. On the other hand, many people think banning books falls the obscenity section that limits speech. Obscenity is based on community standards and many members in the community, including parents, think high school students should have restrictions on what they are able to read.
Banning books is a very controversial topic. Is it a violation of the first amendment or is it supported by Obscenity? Are inappropriate books a good reason to cross the line of reading?
Banned Books – Top 3 Pros and Cons – ProCon.org
“Banned Books – Top 3 Pros And Cons – Procon.Org.” Procon.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 25 Sept. 2018.
The History (and Present) of Banning Books in America
“The History (And Present) Of Banning Books In America.” Literary Hub. N. p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2018.
“Libguides: Banned Books: Banned Books Through History.” Libguides.astate.edu. N. p., 2018. Web. 25 Sept. 2018.
Should there be a limit on what twitter users can say? Does the government have the full right to ban you from the site or is that taking it too far? We all have the right to say what we want, but that’s not what Heidi Beirich, the head of the SPLCIP thinks. She states that she honors the 1st Amendment, but only as an idea. She strictly says that “only the government is allowed to restrict free speech.” A big issue was about Alex Jones and how he is “permanently suspended” from twitter for his tweet that was harassment. Freedom of the press is involved with this issue, and is the main way we all communicate and express what is going on in the world. Twitter has changed their guidelines so that everyone knows what you can and can’t be posting on social media. Twitter has the right to ban users in every way from publishing their policy that everyone is eligible to read, and should.
Another big issue was said on The Hook, that Pewdiepie was banned from making a joke about ISIS. Comments come to a point where you should know what you should and shouldn’t say, and this was on of them. Although we do have freedom of speech, we want to keep our country safe and jokes about ISIS aren’t necessary.
What if I were to tell you that, “President Trump Declares War on California!” Would you believe it? Would you even read the article or would you just click the little ‘share now’ button? Well, believe it or not, that little false statement of mine is apart of America’s current problem… Fake News.
Many people ask, “What is this ‘Fake News’?” Well, so-called fake news can come in many different forums. Such programs like Saturday Night Live’s (SNL) Weekend Update or The Onion focus on making fake news based on comedy or satire. These articles or skits are mainly used as forms of entertainment. While others may focus on producing ‘clickbait’. Article titles such as “The Secret They Don’t Want You to Know” or “The Trick They Hate” can be found all over Facebook, and on tabloids, such as Globe. These ‘clickbait’ titles are meant to get the best of their reader. They make the article seem so enticing that you have to click it. Only to be disappointed. Disappointed because you either saw/watched 30 seconds of ads for a lie or you actually bought that tabloid. Quoting Jim Gaffigan, “…momentary pleasure followed by incredible guilt…” (Mr. Universe) That is all clickbait really is, it’s false information that we are so desperately curious about… only to be lied to.
Now one may be asking, “Can we stop it?”. Well, it is hard to fully stop it, without limiting Freedom of Speech & Press, but companies are doing there best to limit it. Facebook is one of these companies and it is done so by introducing human fact checkers in its new usage policies, back in 2016. Users can also be the ones to stop the spread of this fake news. By doing our own part in not clicking on the link that looks like a scam and not sharing it. If everyone did this, it is possible to extremely limit or even put a stop to this false information. Until then, just keep on scrolling.
Our founding fathers, specifically Benjamin Franklin, once proposed this idea of “power of the press” post the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Franklin stated that the press had the highest judgment in public headlines, following that they also carried power in what he announced as “unofficial”. Another highly figure, Thomas Jefferson, believed that freedom be given to the press in exchange for their gratitude in being governed on a higher hierarchy. Though Jefferson stated that the 1st Amendment be abused and falsely cooperated, judgement will find its course and eventually do it’s bidding.
In today’s society, the press or media, have been more complex through the game of politics, trends, and etc. But looking deeper, there has been a more increasingly amount of websites posting fake news on their page to shape society’s beliefs. When Donald Trump had won the 2016 election in January, there was an immediate rush of news outlets saying that Trump’s team had hacked their way through victory against the higher popular vote of Hillary Clinton. Going up against fake news on social media platforms like Facebook, according to the New York Times, Facebook’s policy chooses what content they allowed published on their website. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is finding ways to detect and capture fake news on their platform, however, Mark Zuckerberg believes that allowing freedom of speech is also an important asset when it comes to the people’s voices on the website whether that’s fake news in the mix.
A last thought comes from Clare Fletcher, a journalist who writes about freedom of speech and fakes news combined. Clare simply puts that fake news violates our freedom of speech, in which if fake news was censored by the government, it would be a pure violation to the Constitution. My conclusions is that fake news is simply an expression that’s meant to change the perceptions of a populated group, for which freedom of speech does protect, however to what degree?
“The Pro-Free Speech Way To Fight Fake News – The Walkley Magazine – Medium.” Medium. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 Oct. 2018.
” Ebscohost Login .” Web.a.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 Oct. 2018.
“We Already Have A
Solution To Fake News: It’S Called The First Amendment.” The Heritage Foundation. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 Oct. 2018.
Should social media be able to restrict what you post? I think to some extent, social media should be able to control what some people post. There always is that fine line in social media of what is acceptable to post and what isn’t. If their post can be offensive to a group of people the post should be taken down. For example, saying you don’t like an actor because they’re Muslim. If someone expresses their hatred towards a person about things that they’ve done that doesn’t threaten the person that the post is about, then it’s fine. An example would be, I don’t like ______ because they said _______ about ________.
In the past two months, there has been a big debate in the Marvel community on whether James Gunn, the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, should be rehired after a ton of disrespectful tweets arose from ten years ago. Everyone in the cast from Guardians of the Galaxy posted a letter in support for rehiring James Gunn despite the tweets. However, Disney made a statement that they weren’t going to rehire him. Many of James Gunn’s tweets from ten years ago were about rape and pedophilia which makes sense why Disney fired him since they’re a very family-friendly business.
The pro to having social media restricting what you say is that people being “exposed” for what they said in the past won’t bite them in the butt in the future. There is also a con to having social media restrict what you say. Many conservatives on social media feel as if censorship is a bad thing. Professor Eric Gander states in Gretel Kauffman’s article Twitter Bars Alt-Right Accounts, “…individuals who are liberal are really not committed to liberal values, they’re committed to censorship.” Now I agree with the fact of social media can’t just altogether ban alt-righters from saying what they believe, it’s just when some of their beliefs offend a group of people by being racist, sexist, etc. Social media’s platform should be as neutral as it can without restricting others rights because they don’t have the typical liberal views, but also keeping in mind one’s limits to not offend people.