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Censorship Against Common Knowledge

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Books are pieces of a puzzle that together write the world; they are meant to teach, stimulate the mind, and introduce topics for discussion in order for one to formulate an opinion of their own. Censorship is the restriction of the exchange of ideas through different mediums, such as books, which a government or other controlling body determines disagreeable or considers inconvenient as. Books are usually censored because they disagree with a majority of the people at the time. Bowdlerization is of no use to the child in a classroom. Every person brings his or her own history, biases, and interpretations into everything that is seen or read.

Therefore, it is impossible to censor everything that creates controversy because every piece of information is disagreed with at one point. If censorship based on opinion continues to occur then surely all knowledge will soon become distorted. Expurgation reduces the entirety of a bit of information and can often lead to misconceptions. Censorship of previously mentioned puzzle pieces for children must in no way occur because it can eradicate advancement of coming generations, deny protection from controversial issues, and eliminate opportunities for a knowledgeable populace.

The eradication of advancement for the coming generations and the suppression of information are directly proportional. That is, they come hand in hand and you cannot have one without having the other. If adults are given the upmost crucial task of determining which information should be censored, their children will grow up knowing much less than did their parents. Later if these now-adults are given the task of censoring that of their own children and so on, eventually knowledge of any kind will be lost to the world. An immense debate is set on whether access of books should be allowed, especially when these works are found questionable by a relatively vociferous portion of the community. Today, this containment continues to deprive students of the fruits of their ancestors’ harvests- their rich knowledge gathered through experience and understanding, passed down through written text. In one school district found in Culver city, California, reading lists are void of an adaptation of The Little Red Riding hood simply because it depicts grandma as having a unfussy glass of wine (USA Today Editorial 159).

Advocates of this incongruous restriction merely do not understand the youth. They fail to distinguish beyond the dirty language and appreciate the valuable messages many works can contribute to society. In any case, children, if raised correctly, have instilled in them their parents’ teachings and take them into consideration with every step the take. Children should ideally be eclectic and be given the opportunity to course through unbiased information and derive from it their own personal and unique perceptions. “Just as there are tragedies, there are happy endings. Just as there is darkness, there is light.” (Beasterfield 24). Education takes the boogeyman aspect of serious issues out of the equation and presents things as they are to be taken, in ones own interpretation.

The good must be taken with the bad because, without knowing the bad, hope to overcome it is nothing but gone. While parents are at complete liberty to teach their children and restrict their own child’s ability to read certain books; they are not allowed to extinguish a source of information because they have an aversion to it. It is obvious to say if a person does not like a book that person is not obligated to read it and because of this simple truth most books have no business being banned from public school libraries.

One cannot provide children with protection from controversial issues by simply refusing to deal with them. The cutting out of information through the elimination of student textbooks and other educational materials is counterproductive. Just because one is not taught of a particular subject matter, it does not insinuate said person is annulled of all confrontations. It only signifies that this person is less prepared to face the circumstance that they haven’t been prepared for. Books can help us survive adversity, heal, live more fully, and change in ways we never thought we could. Books can have great impact on the human population or even just one individual. The author of the book Crank has received much hostility towards her books. Parents believe her touchy topics of alcohol and coercive acts are much too vulgar for a young teenager. Just as a book can present controversy it can also create potential benefits. The author of Crank feels strongly that her readers are able to identify with the difficult subjects she addresses.

She remembers on one occasion a female teen that gets sober after meeting her. “…She shared her own story. How she started getting high in middle school, mostly to deal with her alcoholic mother’s absence. Didn’t care about the trajectory she was on- straight down into the same hell my book represented so well But one day, she found that book.” (Hopkins 13). Many other young teenagers have been able to identify with the author’s books. Books often show outcomes to choices, offer understanding, and give another’s perspective. To navigate the world one must first know the world. Know it and understand it completely; the friend and the enemy, the excellent and the dreadful. We all have positions to usurp in society but without proper, factual guidance through written works how will we do this. Hopkins feels that if her books are able to change a life then they should not be confined to restrictive public services such as censorship. She embodies the very thought that just one book can save a life and strives to make her books do so.

One cannot deny opportunity for a knowledgeable populace. Authors reflect the world, not create it, to deny the people knowledge on the world that surrounds them is the promotion of ignorance (WCAC 178). The obligation of a library is to provide a wide range of materials for all students who have access to that library. Not just a select few whose views are more widely accepted. “If these groups are successful in censoring what appears in our textbooks, how can our students make reasonable and rational choices if they do not have all options presented to them?” (Noble 121). School libraries are meant to provide a comprehensive and balanced collection of information for students to be allowed a basis on which to formulate a factual opinion. One mustn’t take anything on faith alone but rather hear opinions and later confirm them with facts. If these books aren’t set before students with accurate information or a tell-it-like-it-is attitude then these scholars are left to an inevitable stale life. “People sometimes see what they want to see- not what’s really there. People sometimes want others to see things only one way- their way” (USA Today Editorial 159). Everyone thinks differently.

All are different to the person to their right as well as their left. No two people are alike and therefore one always disagrees with another in at least one situation. If censorship continues to cut information from printed works made with the sole purpose to inform and thus makes them biased or incoherent, knowledge as it is known today will shortly become rare. Individuals must all have the opportunity to decide for themselves what is appropriate and not be held back intellectually. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme court ruled, in the case Board of Education, Island Trees School District v. Pico, precisely what I argue. The ruling states that books cannot be removed from libraries merely because of opposition to particular ideas presented by the book.

Authentic concern lies in the fact that the removal or even, at it’s extremity, the burning of books does not mean the removal or burning of ideas. Ideas do not go up in flames and cease to exist in our mind but rather they flourish and stay with us our entire life if we are so wise to keep them. Our ideas are transferred from mind to mind and live on for as long as there is an active brain to hold them. This is what Ellen Hopkins portrays through her manifesto on censorship: that though there are many reasons one is willing to censor books all are done in the name of untouchables that are in simple terms those things generalized but never truly identified. She tackles these justifications and drives home the idea that though one can try to extinguish books their true powers, the possession of ideas, will never leave.

The censorship of literary text and other books presently dedicated to teaching the youth must be abolished because slowly but surely our collection of data will dissolve, the children will be left unprepared to face the world in which they live, and any hope of overcoming universal ignorance will be lost. This gloomy depiction of the world without the very tools that teach it is quite depressing, but, rightfully so. A world without intelligence and without quest is dull and inadequate with its bright surroundings. Students without proper instruction and comprehension through the use of books are left discarded into the world like a baby chick with a broken wing thrown off its nest only for the mother to figure out it was not prepared to fly. Now if every chick is left out to fall out of its nest with a broken wing our society as a whole is doomed to failure.

Books are meant to educate, inspire the mind, and present an insightful idea of any particular subject in order for its reader to formulate an opinion of their own. Books can also have a profound difference in a person’s life; how can we deny this opportunity to better the world. Plenty of groups have risen over the years to battle the demon that is censorship. Strong recommendation
arises among the anti-censorship community when speaking of groups such as The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), which has been around for a rather long time and strongly opposes all forms of censorship. FTRF offers help to public libraries as well as authors, librarians and other individuals affected by censorship. Another rather popular group is the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), which strives to promote awareness of censorship and inform readers of its hazardous existence. Censorship is the ignition of idiocy and without such foundations and coalitions our world would truly be absurd.

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