Tag Archives: banned books

Nope, You Can’t Read That

“Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory…” -FDR. In the U.S today, people aren’t burning books but they are doing something just as bad, removing them from schools. Even though the Supreme Court says that any book can be published, not all of these books are allowed in schools. Books tend to be removed from a public schools reading list when a book is complained about by the public. Recently, a Minnesota school district dropped To Kill A Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn due to the belief that both books used the n-word excessively.  There are other instances of books being dropped nationwide because of complaints that the books offend or people find the books profane or immoral. In any community other than schools these complaints would not exists. Public schools are the only setting where a person’s access to books is questioned. In 1986, the book The Red Badge of Courage was banned by the Bay District School Board because of its depiction of war and its idea that the Civil War was a clash of ideas. Parents also didn’t like the fact that Stephen Crane was not a soldier. Even though this book is banned, many people consider it to be a great, informing book and the Library of Congress even have an exhibit for it because of its “profound effect on the American people”. There are many other books that have made similar impacts on American culture. Books like Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men and the Catcher and the Rye are being banned from schools because they make parents uncomfortable. Katherine Paterson, an author who is frequently censored, spoke out against this saying, “When our chief goal is not to offend someone, we are not likely to write a book that will deeply affect anyone”.

 

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Banned Books: Censoring Authors or Protecting Readers?

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.

Nope, You Can’t Read That

Where is the line between banning books and free access to information?

“Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory…” -FDR. In the U.S today, people aren’t burning books but they are doing something just as bad, removing them from schools. Even though the Supreme Court says that everyone person in the United States can read any book that he or she wants, not all books are allowed in schools. Books tend to be removed from a public schools reading list when a book is complained about by the public. Recently, a Minnesota school district dropped To Kill A Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn due to the belief that both books used the n-word excessively. Books that are banned tend to be banned for racial reasons like the ones above yet books like the Game of Thrones series which has tons of graphic sexual and extremely violent content are still allowed. There are other instances of books being dropped nationwide because of complaints that the books offend or people find the books profane or immoral. In any community other than schools these complaints would not exists. Public schools are the only setting where a person’s access to books is questioned. In 1986, the book The Red Badge of Courage was banned by the Bay District School Board because of its depiction of war and its idea that the Civil War was a clash of ideas. Parents also didn’t like the fact that Stephen Crane was not a soldier. Even though this book is banned, many people consider it to be a great, informing book and the Library of Congress even have an exhibit for it because of its “profound effect on the American people”. There are many other books that have made similar impacts on American culture. Books like Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men and the Catcher and the Rye are being banned from schools because they make parents uncomfortable. Katherine Paterson, an author who is frequently censored, spoke out against this saying, “When our chief goal is not to offend someone, we are not likely to write a book that will deeply affect anyone”.

 

First Amendment and Censorship

“First Amendment And Censorship.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N. p., 2008. Web. 25 Sept. 2018.

 

Anon

Washington Post. N. p., 2018. Web. 25 Sept. 2018.

 

Parker-Anderson, S.

Parker-Anderson, Scott. “Banned Books That Shaped America: The Red Badge Of Courage.” Waldina. N. p., 2013. Web. 25 Sept. 2018.

Should any book be banned from access in libraries just for the fact that the ideas behind them are controversial?

Within our society and as people with many different points of view often times we want our own thought to be understood by everyone else. Although, at times debate and discussion are less emphasized and more focused on the simple desire to force others to conform to the same ideas as our own. This can be seen in instances like schools where they are deciding if they should listen to the angry parents and ban Harry Potter, a notable book, for being related to wizardry and satanism. So, we have to wonder, should we ban any books that might have some controversy with how we want to raise our children?
Is silencing the voice of the writer and practically stripping them of their first amendment right? Nytimes raises one question to the issue. How do the students feel about books being banned? After All, the students are the ones that will be reading the books not the parents, so shouldn’t the students be able to decide what they want to read? For the most part, students answered the question like Erin, an 18 year old in highschool, did by stating “The world is huge, and diverse. Books, whether fiction or nonfiction, open a little part of that world to us. …I think the books helped me to grow up, to learn about the world”. On the other hand how are we to know if the kids are ready to read some books that might require a little bit more maturity or context. We can’t just throw 4th graders into a translated version of Mein Kampf. Thoughtco thnks the answer is just providing a supporting hand if the students need it, like the introduction to the use of the N word in older literature. PBS sees every book as a learning experience and any book that is banned for sensitive material is simply avoiding the problem. Learning new information along with the context in which it is delivered will help us grow as individuals and come to better ideas. Justice Louis D. Brandeis would agree with the fact of having no books banned as seen by a famous case of Whitney vs. California Justice where he stated
*377 “Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
In essence stating that free speech should be protected and if some things may not sound right, then we can talk to change it. In the end, books are meant for spreading ideas in a way that can sometimes be easier than speeches or other sources. Why not use them as tools for learning and enlightenment?

 

Works Cites:
“What To Teach Students About Censorship And Book Banning In America.” ThoughtCo. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
Whitney v. California [1927] 274 U.S. 357 No. 3 (Supreme Court of United States)
Schulten, Katherine. “Are There Books That Should Be Banned From Your School Library?.” The Learning Network. N. p., 1285. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
Strum, Lora, and Lora Strum. “Banning Books Like ’13 Reasons Why’ Makes It Harder For Teens To Open Up To Adults, Author Says.” PBS NewsHour. N. p., 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

Does Banning Books Violate One’s First Amendment Right?

When it comes to banning books, many schools are continuing to ban more and more books. Though there may be fair reasoning to have some of these books banned, it can go against freedom of press, making banning books unjust, unless it is an obscenity. I believe some books that are banned are clearly meet the limit of being an obscenity, but sometimes they it really doesn’t meet the definition. Cornell law describes an obscenity laws as,prohibiting lewd, filthy, or disgusting words or pictures,” but they also mention, “Indecent materials or depictions, normally speech or artistic expressions, may be restricted in terms of time, place, and manner, but are still protected by the First Amendment.” Books like Harry Potter and Where’s Waldo really have no, just reason to be banned, especially when you tie it with definition. This violates the freedom of the press because you are prohibiting authors of their right to freedom of the press for no reason. But, I do believe there are certain cases where it is best to ban a book.

Only some books should be banned, only when they follow this definition of obscenity, and it isn’t appropriate for the age group reading it. Having read several books on the “Banned Book List” I know that some books on that list have no reason to be on there, but others are best to be deemed “okay” to have in schools base off of age, making it fair for them to be banned. When it comes to books such as The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird, banning them or not should probably fluctuate based on age. Even though it isn’t discussed in the constitution or seen as a limit, there can be fair arguments for not wanting certain ages to read certain books. In the book The Color Purple, right away in the book there is a graphic rape described. As the rest of the book continues, there is a lot of important historical context and lessons that happen throughout, making it important for someone to read, but with the graphic rape in the beginning, and a few more scenes throughout, it’s best to put an age restriction on it because you don’t want someone reading it at a young age, making the definition of obscenity fluctuate based on age. Though I think To Kill a Mockingbird should not be banned, due to its high use of the “n word”, some disagree. In no way am I condoning the “n word”, but I believe it’s an important, and dark part of our history that shouldn’t be forgotten, but something we are taught, and we learn from. To Kill a Mockingbird does this in a way that describes life during that time, and someone can actually learn through a fictional story, vs. out of a textbook, what life was like. Having people in elementary and middle school read it, can be deemed worthy needing it to be banned because they don’t understand the time as well, but people in high school are almost adults, and need to learn about that part of history in a further context, and they should understand the context of that word, raising the argument that obscenities definition should fluctuate based on the age reading the book. When it comes to freedom of press, there are certain limits to it, and sometimes those limits vary, based on certain factors. Books are a learning tool for all who read them, and when it comes to banning them or not, books should not be banned unless it’s deemed an obscenity for the age group reading it, not because of personal reasons in order to follow The Constitution, the highest law of the land.

Sources

“Banned & Challenged Classics.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N. p., 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2018

“Obscenity.” LII / Legal Information Institute. N. p., 2018. Web. 12 Feb. 2018.

 

How do schools decide which books to censor, and which to put on shelves?

Books are banned for many reasons, some are good reasons, others not so good of reasons. One example of a reason to ban a book is that of the language that is used and being inappropriate for a curriculum, like in the book To Kill a Mockingbird. Parents are trying to get the book removed from the English curriculum at Monona Grove High School because it uses a racial slur 48 times.(4) The parents feel that it’s racial harassment by having African-American students read the book and that there are different books that teach the same topics in a more contemporary way.(4) The school decided to keep the book in the curriculum on a 4-1 vote. In this example they kept the book on the shelf because the school decided that they “believe in telling the truth” and “students can make up their own minds.”(5).

A different example, with a book that’s actually banned, was Catcher in the Rye. Many schools have banned this book for the profanity on its own, let alone to the other actions the main character does as well as his comments about people commonly discriminated against. Although a classic, schools do still obtain the right to remove a book from its’ shelves or its’ curriculum if it believes the book is to be too inappropriate for students to read(3). Which in this case, a fair amount of schools found it too inappropriate, in Illinois a school banned it for alcohol abuse, and in South Dakota, a school banned it for its’ sexual practice.(6). 

I think schools obtain the right to ban books but only if it’s actually a problem or inappropriate. For example, wanting to remove To Kill a Mocking Bird from the curriculum because you believe it’s wrong for African-American students to read, I can understand that. But that book goes across some racial issues and to solve problems you have to talk about them first.

Sources:

5 Notable Banned-Book Cases for Banned Books Week(3)

“5 Notable Banned-Book Cases For Banned Books Week.” NWSidebar. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2018. -Used to read about a case that, in a way, set a bar for banning books

https://nwsidebar.wsba.org/2014/09/26/banned-books-week/

Journal, K.(4)

Journal, Karen. “Charging Racism, Cottage Grove Parents Want Harper Lee Book Barred From Classroom.” madison.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 16 Feb. 2018. 

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/charging-racism-cottage-grove-parents-want-harper-lee-book-barred/article_422a6b7c-562f-5876-aca8-1c7faf5f4dec.html

-Used 4 and 5 for information about the ruling of To Kill a Mocking Bird

Committee votes to keep ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ in class curriculum(5)

“Committee Votes To Keep ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ In Class Curriculum.” WISC. N. p., 2018. Web. 17 Feb. 2018.

https://www.channel3000.com/news/committee-votes-to-keep-to-kill-a-mockingbird-in-class-curriculum/701223913

Why?, W.(6)

Why?, Who. “Who Banned Catcher In The Rye And Why? | Academic About Movies/Music/Tv, Pop Culture/Trends, School/College And Social Issues/Civics.” Teenink.com. N. p., 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2018. -Used this to read about why Catcher in the Rye was banned.

http://www.teenink.com/nonfiction/academic/article/512353/Who-Banned-Catcher-in-the-Rye-and-Why/

Banned Books

Should libraries be able to regulate books?

 

There are many reasons as to why books are being banned from public and school libraries.  All these reasons are racial issues, encouragement of “damaging” lifestyles, blasphemous dialog, sexual situations, violence, witchcraft, religious affirmation, political bias, and age inappropriate. The most popular for books to banned is having sexual situations, age appropriate, and religious affirmation.  Fifty Shades of Grey and To Kill a Mockingbird are examples are banned books.  In these books, the material used in it is obscenite.  According to the Freedom of Speech,  people have the right to read what other people write and express themselves.  Island trees school district vs. Pico set the standards of banning books from the libraries.  

Although with the libraries regulating books people don’t get to have that right.  Even though, they get to read books without those challenging they don’t get to read the ones that were banned.  So under the freedom of speech is it right for libraries to regulate books?  Some books aren’t meant for children to read so libraries regulate books to protect the children’s mind.  A pro for libraries to regulate books is that it will protect children from what is in the book.  A con is that they should be able to read books to express themselves.  In overall, libraries regulating books isn’t a bad thing because it helps children reading the wrong type of material.