Tag Archives: censorship

There’s a Time and Place

Throughout history, nudity in art has been depicted from the time of Ancient Egypt to the Renessaisce. As the human race moves forward and leaves the past in the past, art keeps evolving. In today’s time, humans enjoy more freedoms than ever before, which brings us to the question, when does nudity in art violate the obscenity laws, and therefore, become unprotected under the First Amendment? Obscenity laws had already been established by the court, yet the obscenity test was about to change after the Miller vs California Supreme court case in 1973. This case came about when Marvin Miller went around distributing large quantities of advertisement sale flyers about “adult” content material. The residents who received the advertisement did not take it lightly and they ended up reporting it to the state which convicted Miller of mailing unsolicited sexually explicit material in violation of a California statute that involved the obscenity test established in the case of Memoirs vs Massachusetts. At the end of the trial, the Supreme court ruled in favor of the state of California, and Miller was found guilty because the material wasn’t suitable for the general population.

I’m in favor of the obscenity laws because it protects the general public from sexual content that might end up at the disposal of our children. I believe that there is a time and place for everything, but I also admire the lengths that artist go to create magnificent paintings and sculptures. In the Supreme court case of The United States of America vs Ten Erotic Paintings, in 1969, ten paintings and drawings were confiscated by U.S. agents in Baltimore. The artworks that were been sent to the U.S. from Europe to be presented in a museum were part of a much larger collection of erotic art. Federal law prohibits the importation of obscene materials which was the authorities justification for seizing them. Even though Miller vs California still had 4 years to go, the court placed the same three-part standard as to what constituted obscenity. Despite that, the artwork contained man and woman genitals and sexual content, the trial court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appels agreed that all the erotic artworks have artistic value and therefore not meeting with the third legal criterion of obscenity. This only shows how nudity in art should be protected because, at the end of the day, all art has artistic values and shouldn’t be considered obscene from the public, well at least for those 18 and above.


“Miller v. California.” Oyez, 28 Feb. 2019, www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-73.

Esmaili, Tala. “Obscenity.” LII / Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, 8 June 2017, www.law.cornell.edu/wex/obscenity.
“Untitled (Pencil Drawing) by Hans Bellmer.” Art on Trial: Art in Publicly Owned Spaces, www.tjcenter.org/ArtOnTrial/obscenity.html.


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.

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.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N. p., 2008. Web. 25 Sept. 2018.

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

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

Offensive Speech in Universities

When can universities censor students without violating free speech and the First Amendment?

Universities have always had a set of standards separate from the outside world. What might be acceptable on the streets could land a student in Dean of Students’ office. For example, flipping another driver off as he/she cuts you off does not have any repercussions and is actually seen quite often. On the other hand, a student giving their teacher the bird for not bumping their grade up will almost certainly result in consequences. Universities are allowed to do this without violating freedom of expression because they have a different set of community standards. Classrooms are a place for education and not much else, so something offensive that lies outside of this realm could be considered an obscenity. If it is preventing students from successfully learning, then the phrase or expression is obscene. The outside world does that not have this standard because it is solely devoted to learning. However, lately universities all around the country have been censoring a little too much.

A study done by Spiked Magazine released a ranking for schools in the UK highlighting which universities censored free speech the most. The report revealed that a majority of schools has “banned and actively censored” students’ free speech. In addition, Tom Slater, an editor for Spiked Magazine, revealed what some of the schools are banning. One school, he said, “Banned sombreros, and other such ‘racist’ attire”. Even groups centered around controversial debates such as abortion have been banned on campus, and students are upset. Many feel as though their freedom of speech has been violated by their universities. Although some opinions and words might be offensive, a lot of what universities censor can be used as an educational opportunity. One said that he is a “firm believer that the best way to challenge an idea is to discuss”. Universities are a place to learn not censor.

Although certain actions or words do need to be censored in the classroom, universities should not be censoring anything that seems mildly offensive. As long as it does not prevent students from learning successfully, it should not be banned. Just because something is offensive, does not mean it can not be discussed professionally and educationally. By toning down the amount of censorship, students might even be able to understand each other more effectively and create better environments within the school.

Works Cited:

“The suppression of free speech on university campuses is reaching epidemic levels; It’s easy to laugh at students who try to ban sombreros or applause, but new free speech rankings show how their censorious megalomania is getting out of hand.” Telegraph Online, 3 Feb. 2015. Student Resources in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A400023226/SUIC?u=mono131514&xid=48fd105e. Accessed 14 Feb. 2018.

“‘Why I’m no longer looking forward to university’; Supression of free speech has transformed universities into a much less exciting prospect for sixth form students, writes Carl du Jeu.” Telegraph Online, 24 July 2015. Student Resources in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A423008194/SUIC?u=mono131514&xid=ee9f24f6. Accessed 14 Feb. 2018.


To Kill A Mockingbird is being challenged!

Should To Kill a Mockingbird be banned from schools?

There are schools that believe that To Kill a Mockingbird should be banned from reading. A school district in Mississippi didn’t like how the book used racial issues and how it deals with civil rights. There are numerous instances in which it uses racial slurs about the black community. There was backlash but it was decided that the book would stay in the library. Some say that they could get the same message across using a different book and it has been constantly challenged since 1960, when it was released. Arne Duncan, president Obama’s former secretary of education, said that “When school districts remove ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from the reading list, we know we have real problems.”.

When it comes down to the 1st Amendment, the right to read for example, all students should be able to read To Kill A mockingbird, even if it has racial slurs. Some parents may want this gone as it is offensive to the black community but as Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Senator, put it, “Engaged parents should call the school district with the clear message: Our kids are tough enough to read a real book.”  There some reasons to remove the book from the 8th grade reading curriculum, but as it stands, it will most likely stay as a shared story in our schools.

Works Cited:

“’To Kill a Mockingbird’ Banned at Mississippi School.” Time, Time, time.com/4983786/biloxi-mississippi-school-ban-to-kill-a-mockingbird/.
Nelson, Karen. “Why Did Biloxi Pull ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from the 8th Grade Lesson Plan?”Sunherald, The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com/news/local/counties/jackson-county/article178572326.html.

Social Media is Free Speech

Social media is so popular these days and is so versatile it can be used so many different ways. There are many positive aspects to social media, but a major debate over social media has always been about where the first amendment fits into all of it. The big question that everyone is talking about is if the government should be able to regulate what is being said and posted on social media.
The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” To me, freedom of speech means that people have the right to say whatever they want whenever they want. Even though I believe lots of people choose to abuse this right and use it as a way to hurt people, it is still our rights as U.S. citizens to say whatever we want. Social media is just a part of this. The use of language can be more strong on social media because it is through a screen and not face to face. I think this is where most of the problems arise and where some people want social media to be regulated because lots of people share hateful and offensive thoughts online. Some people believe others should not have the right to say such horrible things online, and while I agree with that concept, I also acknowledge that the first amendment was created so people to speak their minds freely and have their opinions be heard. If the government were to regulate everything that was put on social media, it would cause people to become closed off and scared to share their views and opinions.
The U.S. is one country that grants its citizens the right to say whatever they want about whatever they want and I choose to look at that as a blessing instead of a curse. Despite the fact that some people abuse the first amendment and choose to use it as a weapon of hate instead of a way to heal and bring people joy and happiness, I do not believe that the government should be allowed to regulate everything put on social media. Social media is a creative output for so many people and a way for people to get their ideas heard. If the government is looking over everyone’s shoulder all the time, then they are taking away people’s voices because they will be too afraid to speak their minds.


Karentay. “How Should Governments Regulate Facebook and Other Social Media Platforms? Proposing A New Paradigm to Regulation.” Technology and Public Good, 24 Oct. 2017, techandpublicgood.com/2017/10/24/how-should-governments-regulate-facebook-and-other-social-media-platforms-proposing-a-new-paradigm-to-regulation/.

“First Amendment – U.S. Constitution.” Findlaw, constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html.

Is censorship in schools an example of Obscenity?

The school system is very strict of what they can or can’t show you. There are all kinds of censorship that the the school system portrays on the student body. “Teachers, principals, and school administrators make decisions all the time about which books and materials to retain, add or exclude from the curriculum”. “As the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and International Reading Association (IRA) note, there is an important distinction between selection based on professional guidelines and censorship: ‘Whereas the goal of censorship is to remove, eliminate or bar particular materials and methods, the goal of professional guidelines is to provide criteria for selection of materials and methods’.” When a book has swearing or bad words in it, but it’s used for educational purposes does that make it obscenity? There were lots of books that were banned from schools all around America when it is really showing us students how life was at that time in the past. When teaching the english language we need to have examples of both the good and the bad. When dealing with American history the best way to teach us it not filter out everything. There was a time the Supreme Court considered whether a local school board violated the constitution by removing books from the school library, it was held that the right to receive ideas is a necessary predicate to the recipient ‘s meaningful exercise of their own rights of speech, press, and political freedom.  Most censorship of materials and restrictions are commonly prompted by public complaints causing the library board or school administration to be mindful of the importance of their neighbor’s religious values, moral sensibilities, and protecting children from offensive materials. So really the ordinary citizens are the driving force behind the challenges to the internet, information, and ideas. Even though there will always be controversy on school censorship, I know that it is an example of obscenity that needs to come to a mutual agreement in the future.

Us, About et al. “The First Amendment In Schools: Censorship.” National Coalition Against Censorship. N. p., 2018. Web. 18 Feb. 2018.How does the first amendment protect what teachers say in the classroom? http://ncac.org/resource/the-first-amendment-in-schools-censorship

“First Amendment And Censorship.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N. p., 2008. Web. 18 Feb. 2018. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/censorship