As of recently, the want to ban books from libraries has been increasing. Why is this? Some books contain controversial concerns that the majority of the public does not agree with. However, many people believe that this is a violation of the first amendment: Freedom of Speech.
Does Banning Books from Libraries violate the Freedom of Speech Amendment?
The controversy of banning books ultimately stems from the differing political, societal, and cultural views that people obtain, and feel very strongly about. Part of the public eye feels strongly about keeping books that discuss “touchy” subjects out of libraries, while other parts of the public believe that banning books from libraries would be taking away from our human right of freedom of speech. By banning books from libraries, the information the public can or cannot access would be monitored, which does not allow the public to gain access to all available information and knowledge. Therefore, not allowing people to hear what others have to write can limit the right to speech. As stated in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, “out of the 2,244 U.S. adults surveyed in March 2015, the percentage who felt that certain books should be banned increased by more than half since the last similar study conducted in 2011.”
A large part of the reason why a part of the population believes that some books should be banned is due to cultural morals, like race. For instance, many schools are pushing for the banning of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The Biloxi Public School District in Mississippi agrees with this. The school district argued that the book contains slurs that “made some people uncomfortable because of its racist language.” Therefore, this classic novel has been deemed “unacceptable” by the Biloxi Schools, and many other schools too. Without students being able to access this novel, they cannot read it through their library, even though some schools do not like their students reading it, it limits their reading options. Students are unable to learn from the real message of the book, which is not racist, in fact it is the opposite. This same source says that before the book was deemed unacceptable, the same school district described the book as a “classic with a focus on developing an appreciation for how ethical principles or laws of life can help people live successfully.” And this is only one example. Books bring education, and sometimes that means that people need to discuss controversial problems so that people can learn from them. If books never discussed touchy subjects, then people could never learn from their mistakes. This is part of what the first amendment gives people the right to do: discuss debatable ideas. This is why books should not be banned from libraries, and why many people agree that they should not be. In an article titled “Why Your Kid Should Read Banned Books,” the author explains how kids often relate to banned books because the stories feel familiar with their own lives, and that will start conversation. Reading these books can help people learn and they can help people “define their own values and opinions of content.” People have every right to be able to do that.
All in all, banning books from libraries does violate the first amendment: Freedom of Speech. Although some books in libraries contain argumentative ideas, those ideas often help people learn. When there are issues brought up in books, the solution should be education. In order to educate people about these issues, it is crucial to speak about them. You cannot acquire information about a subject without hearing about it from a source, and many people go to libraries and use books for that specific purpose. So, granted libraries are still banning books, they should really consider whether they are banning books solely because they touch on matters that not everyone agrees with, or if the material should really truly be banned, because often times they are taking away from a person’s database of knowledge. A person has to know what they are talking about in order to speak, so taking away the right to books in libraries would violate freedom of speech.
Calvert, Clay. “Why Are Libraries Still Banning Books?” Newsweek, 23 Apr. 2016, www.newsweek.com/how-come-libraries-are-still-banning-books-379958.
McMahon, Regan. “Why Your Kid Should Read Banned Books.” Common Sense Media: Ratings, Reviews, and Advice, Common Sense Media, 3 Sept. 2018, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/why-your-kid-should-read-banned-books.
“Poll Shows Growing Support for Book Banning.” Edited by Henry Reichman, Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Sept. 2015, file:///home/chronos/u-5544403311d82ad7e26aaad88a38032eee6198c1/Downloads/525-281-PB%20(6).pdf.
Strauss, Valerie. “Analysis | Top 10 Books in 2016 Most Challenged in Schools and Libraries. No. 9 Is a Series Written by Bill Cosby.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 16 Oct. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/10/16/top-10-books-in-2016-most-challenged-in-schools-and-libraries-no-9-is-a-series-written-by-bill-cosby/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.182bd6e29067.