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.
“’To Kill a Mockingbird’ Banned at Mississippi School.” Time, Time, time.com/4983786/biloxi-mississippi-school-ban-to-kill-a-mockingbird/.
Censorship in school is very controversial subject that could violate our obscenity limits under the First Amendment, everyone has different opinions and there is a very thin line on what is acceptable to some and what isn’t. Obscenity can be defined as something you know that is wrong when you see it, based on community standards. There have been many cases where students believe their rights are being violated by the school for not allowing them to wear or speak on something they believe in. One example is the Tinker vs. Des Moines case where about 4 students wore black armbands to school to protest the war and the school told them to take them off or go home. When they didn’t take them off they got suspended and were fighting that their rights were violated. The court ruled that school officials could not censor speech or actions unless it was disruptive or hurtful to others and in this case a plain black armband did not. This case is a huge point for future students and knowing what is right and what is wrong in the school setting. On the other hand, there are many parents that are concerned on what is happening in our schools and if it is too obscene. There are many fighting in Mississippi and even here at our school to get To Kill a Mockingbird removed from our curriculum because it is seen as offensive and hurtful to children of a young age. This book is supposed to make you uncomfortable and initiate discussion on how these situations they went through in the book are wrong. Censorship should be based on the schools rules and if a parent does not want their child reading a book they should be allowed a different option but it should not be taken away for everyone. I believe that schools should come together with students and make rules about what is obscene based on the setting and decide what they should censor. I think if we all agreed we wouldn’t have problems with the First Amendment and what is allowed and what isn’t. In the end it is hard to come to a conclusion on these problems because everyone has different beliefs on what should be allowed in school.
American Civil Liberties Union. (2018). Tinker v. Des Moines – Landmark Supreme Court Ruling on Behalf of Student Expression. [online] Available at: https://www.aclu.org/other/tinker-v-des-moines-landmark-supreme-court-ruling-behalf-student-expression [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].
NBC News. (2018). Opinion | Why do we still teach ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in schools?. [online] Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/why-are-we-still-teaching-kill-mockingbird-schools-ncna812281 [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].
STUART TAYLOR Jr., S. (2018). Court Hears School Censorship Case. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/14/us/court-hears-school-censorship-case.html [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].
United States Courts. (2018). Facts and Case Summary – Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. [online] Available at: http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-hazelwood-v-kuhlmeier [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].
Since the beginning, education has been about exchanging ideas and understanding different views on events, even ones we don’t necessarily enjoy. Schools across the country are becoming more “politically correct”, as some would say, but is that really the right thing to do? Not only does this censorship inhibit the learning of students, but it may be infringing upon their 1st Amendment rights to free speech.
A prime example of this censorship is the banning of the Confederate Flag from schools, and any apparel that sports this symbol. While some people may see it as a sign of racial prejudice or hatred, its supporters have a different view of it entirely. Supporters of the Confederate Flag view it as a symbol of their heritage, and paying homage to those who fought in the Civil War. A timeless expression of family pride and an embrace of history. The main reason it has been banned is because districts argue that it distracts from the learning environment, but banning it might infringe upon the students 1st Amendment rights. People who don’t support the flag argue that the it is a symbol of “hate speech”, it is seen as a banner of white supremacy and racial discrimination, and understandably so. Banning it could protect these students from uncomfortable situations, or racism. However unless the Confederate Flag is used specifically to harm others is it that bad? What we should do is turn the flag into a topic of conversation, and learning. We should investigate what it means to each person, and bring forth our own views on it, such is the purpose of education. Controversy breeds thought, and we should share such thoughts with each other to spark a civil exchange of ideas, schools could benefit from students engaging in educated debates about controversial topics
Rosen, Ben. "Is the Confederate Flag Constitutionally Protected?"<i> Christian Science Monitor</i>, 30 Oct 2016,<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com” target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a>.
Rampell, Catherine. "Silencing Free Speech Isn’t the Way to Debate it."<i> Washington Post</i>, 16 Dec 2016, pp. A.19.<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com” target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a>.
The 1st amendment of the United States Constitution addresses the issues of freedom of expression and the limitations government has when it comes to acting against the expressions of the public. According to the first amendment, government is not allowed to show bias towards a religion or belief and are not allowed to stop a person’s right to speak out about their values . One of the limiting powers of the government is that they are allowed to censor media and information from the public if under the proper context. Does censorship desecrate the freedom of expression? Or does it not hinder it at all?
According to an article entitled “ National Coalition Against Censorship” By the NACA censorship is defined as “ suppression of an image or idea because it offends or disturbs someone, or they disagree with it. This states that media can be censored if it offends or bothers someone, however this raises another question. What are the limits when it comes to offensive or disturbing material? And how do they decide if something needs to be censored or if it should stay? The IRA defines the difference in the following quote “ There is an important distinction between selection based on professional guidelines and what censorship actually entails. “ The goal of censorship is to remove, eliminate or bar particular materials or methods. The goal of professional guidelines is to provide criteria for the selection of those materials or methods”.
Censorship also plays a role in the education system. An article entitled “ The Student’s Right to Read” by the NCTE, states that “ students and parents have the right to demand that education today keep students in reality with the world outside the classroom. Since this a right of the parents and student why are books that are deemed to realistic or vulgar removed from the educational system. Another thing to consider is the responsibilities of an english teacher. The specific responsibilities are highlighted as the following “ Literature classes should reflect the cultural contributions of many minority groups in the United States”
Censorship does not just impact literature in school but also can hinder the quality and impact on education. How this affects students is shown in the following excerpt “ Censorship leaves students with an inadequate and distorted picture of the ideals, values and problems in their culture. Writers and authors have alot of power when it comes to the ability to impact students when it comes to sensitive or emotional content. Writers can distort or inaccurately portray a culture or value or they can paint an overly graphic image of a culture or idea. Censorship can protect the public from sensitive media but in the end does it have a negative effect on students when they enter the real world? That’s for you to decide for yourself, as for me, I think it affects us more than we realize.