Censorship In School Is Not Right Essay

, Research Paper


I believe that Imposing censorship within America’s

schools is not only against the First Amendment of the

United State Constitution, but it is also against the very

moral fiber upon which this country was founded.

In an attempt to limit access to so-called sensitive

issues and concepts, radical right wing supporters have

pushed their weight around to remove any and all

questionable works of literature from school libraries.

The right to interpret the written word is one of the

fundamental freedoms of our country, yet more and more this

right is being taken away from students who have the desire

to broaden their literary horizons. Conservative parents,

teachers, librarians and even the American government have

all attempted to limit access to what they consider

sensitive issues and concepts. These same self appointed

literary police are calling for the removal of all

Questionable works of literature from public libraries. On

some college campuses there are even restrictions on which

books can even be brought from one s own collection to

school property.

Proponents of school censorship have issues with just

about every book found in school libraries. Their argument

is that appropriate reading literature should fulfill by one

of two standards: 1) that it effectively adds to the

“general store of knowledge” , or 2) that is exercises some

“beneficial influence” upon the mind as a means of

providing “wholesome amusement or recreation” .

Who is to determine what constitutes wholesome and

beneficial? That is what I, as a censorship opponent want

to know. Personal opinion is just that: personal opinion.

When such opinions begin dictating how the rest of the world

must respond, it becomes a dictatorship rather than a


Giving credit where credit is due, there is nothing

wrong with offering guidance as to what is both proper and

improper for students to read. Depending upon the age group,

supervision over reading material is — in most cases –

reasonable and justified. But when it comes down to the

actual banning of books because one group of people

considers the content unacceptable, that is crossing the

line of extremism.

Every year, individuals and groups alike demand that

yet another book is removed from school libraries, as well

as from particular classroom curricula. Claiming that the

content is too explicit or inappropriate, these small minded

censors are wreaking havoc on students’ First Amendment


The question then becomes: Just how far does the First

Amendment go to protect the students? The censors think

that students do not have the ability to choose appropriate

reading material; that their assistance is necessary to keep

harmful and unsuitable material out of sight.

In fact, the issue of censorship in America’s schools

is an issue of rights. Ex-United States President Jimmy

Carter once said that America did not invent human rights;

rather, it was human rights that invented America. If this

is true, then each individual must be allowed to pursue his

own choices, whether that is with regard to books or any

other form of media. To impose limits on what is permitted

and what is not is to remove one our most fundamental rights

of all.

And what about those people stuck in the middle of all

the controversy? School librarians have been caught in the

crossfire of radical censors for some time now, fighting

hard to protect the rights of student choice.

Paul J. Lareau, a librarian for seven years, says

censorship is the “last resort of parents with disobedient

or rebellious children” . He says that the people who are

the most vocal about removing unacceptable books are the

ones who cannot control their own children and are then,

attempting to control all children.

If left to choose, Lareau says that most students

understand the implications of various reading material and

will either stay away from it or decide to learn more about

it. However, placing restrictions on books based only on

their content — specifically how that content is

interpreted by one individual or group — does more to

encourage its reading if left alone.

The power of censorship in this nation was experienced

at an Arizona college when, as a result of controversy over

library book selections, the campus newspaper was suspended,

an art exhibit censored, and the student literary magazine

“condemned” by the college administration. All of this

occurred because those in power felt the need for

“suppression of controversial books”.

Across our country, books that are the main objects of

the censorship issue are those which present points of view

that can easily be misconstrued as “pro-American and

anti-Communist” . Yet it is not for one person to decide

for the rest what something may represent only through his

own interpretation. According to the framers of the

constitution, such decisions are to be left up to the

individual rather than the masses.

Even an American icon like the comic book is not safe

from the effects of censorship. Comic books have been under

fire because of their violent and sexual content, which has

caused many of them to be removed from school libraries. So

intense is the argument that the US Supreme Court could very

well uphold legislation restricting their sales if it is

decided that there is a “serious enough threat to the morals

of the community.

Censorship is an outright suppression of ideas,

information and artistic expression. It does not belong in

schools where open-minded learning is supposed to take

place. At best, censorship is “unconstitutional” ; at

worst, it is a warning sign of an impending authoritarian


Works Cited

Anonymous #1. “Book Rejection: Is It Censorship?” Library

Journal, (1962) : pp. PG.

Anonymous #2. “Crime Comics and the Constitution.” Stanford

Law Review, (1955) : pp. PG.

Anonymous #3. “Criminal Obscenity Statute Held

Unconstitutional for Lack of Scienter.”

Ohio State Law Journal, (1962) : pp. PG.

Anonymous #4. “Freedom of Speech and Press under the First

Amendment: A R sum .” Yale Law Journal, (1920) : pp.


Anonymous #5. “The Hidden Persuaders in Book Selection.”

Library Journal, (1965) : pp. PG.

Anonymous #6. “Open the Books!” Saturday Review, (1953) :


Clarke, George T. “Improper Books.” Library Journal, (1895)

: pp. PG.

Collins, Blanche. “Ordeal at Long Beach.” Library Journal,

(1965) : pp. PG.

Corbett, James A. Trouble at Cochise.” Arizona Librarian,

(1965) : pp. 22(3):7-10, 40 43.

Cross, Farrell. “Creeping Censorship in Our Libraries.”

Coronet, (1961.) : pp. PG.


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