Category: others of our views, but that doesn’t

Social Issues
Paper Title:
Censorship in Public High Schools: The War For Our Children’s Minds
For centuries, parents have wrestled with the question of how to raise their
children with the best moral and ethical standings. Along with this question
come others such as, “What are the right morals?” Today’s parents are
no different than they were in the past and the struggle continues. It’s
tempting to try to protect children from the perceived evils in modern society.

One such moral issue is the banning of books from high school libraries and
sometimes even classrooms, which may represent some of those aforementioned
perceived evils.

As long as humans have sought to communicate, others have sought to keep them
from doing so. Every day someone tries to restrict or control what can be said,
written, sung, or broadcast through censorship. Almost every idea ever thought
has proved offensive or worthy of objection to one person or another, and almost
everyone has sometimes felt the world would be a better place if only “so
and so” were not around or “such and such” did not exist.

Some people deem this censorship necessity, while still others claim that
these actions impose upon their First Amendment rights. Both sides have some
very worthwhile viewpoints, but lost in the shuffle, unfortunately, is what the
First Amendment stands for – that each of us are free to decide for ourselves
what to read and think. No matter how convinced some may be of the rightness of
their own views, they are not, however, entitled to impose those views on
others. We all have the right to attempt to convince others of our views, but
that doesn’t imply a right to blindfold or silence others in the process.

On the anti-censorship side sits the American Library Association along with
a number of other organizations. Part of this group’s attempt to further
awareness of censorship takes place in the last week in September. This campaign
is known as National Banned Book Week. This is a weeklong propaganda fest and
consciousness-raising extravaganza put on by the American Library Association’s
Office for Intellectual Freedom. The promoters use this week to parade a list of
books that they charge have been banned in libraries and schools across America,
talk about the importance of First Amendment Rights, and lament the rise of
censorship from what they consider to be the ill-informed enemies of freedom and
American democracy — a group that includes the usual conservatives and, of
course, a great number of parents and school officials.

First of all, quite a few Americans have serious problems with the sort of
radical libertarianism that the American Library Association (ALA) represents. A
majority of Americans don’t buy into the notion that public libraries should buy
anything no matter how pornographic, or that schools should teach anything, no
matter how controversial. Most Americans believe in community standards, and
they stubbornly insist that schools, libraries, and other social institutions
ought to support those standards. Even so, the real difficulty with the American
Library Association’s Banned Book Week isn’t its philosophy, however a number of
people may question the ALA’s anything-goes-approach to building a library
collection and managing a school’s curriculum. No, the real problem is the
dishonesty involved.

In my opinion, Banned Book Week isn’t really what it says it is. It isn’t a
model for freedom of speech, but rather the ALA has gone in for some serious
mislabeling here. It has misleadingly categorized the week — a serious charge
when you remember that librarians are supposed to be accurate catalogers and
labelers of things.

In all honesty, where do censorship and book banning really stand in America?
Well, very few — if any — books in this country are currently banned. You can
buy almost any title that you want, download a multitude of information from the
Web if you need to, and you can check out all sorts of things at your public
library. Nor is censorship dangerously on the rise, as the ALA would have you

The difference between what is true and what the week’s promoters claim stems
from their exaggerated notions of what constitutes censorship. In the eyes of
the ALA and its Office for Intellectual Freedom, any kind of challenge to a book
may be considered an effort at banning and any kind of complaint about a title
is called an attempt at unconscionable censorship. For a book to be labeled a
banned book in their mind, someone needs only question its place in a given
library’s collection, or

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