Essay about Censorship in the American School System

Submitted By maroonace22
Words: 1082
Pages: 5

Censorship In The American School System
Censorship is, by definition, the restraint of speech or other public communication which may be considered offensive, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body. It happens in a variety of different situations including speech, books, music, films, the press, radio, television, and the Internet. (
Censorship has become a growing problem across the nation, especially in middle schools. A number of parents and organizations have begun to challenge school boards over alleged offenses in children's books, and even in classic works of literature. Between four and five hundred challenges have been made every year for the past thirty years, but this does not make it right. To put it in simpler terms, book banning and censoring is wrong. The original work of an author should be considered his/her own private property, and censoring or banning books violates that privacy.
Book banning is not a new issue, the number of books being taken off the shelf rises as the years go by. One of the more disputed books is, ironically, an American classic. Recently, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been bombarded with criticism for repeated use of the word "nigger," which was a common, everyday term in the mid-19th-century South. This is of course disregarding the fact that one cannot walk down a school hallway without hearing the very same racial slur used, and not in a friendly manner. (
Modifying a classic like Huckleberry Finn may be confusing to future generations. Changing documents to please a group of individuals, while wrong from an ethical standpoint, may also lead to historical inaccuracies. If the Bible had been edited over the years and "corrected" to accommodate the wants of different ethnicities and religions, we would end up with a text so censored that it would be impossible to distinguish truth from fiction. Mark Twain, the author of Huckleberry Finn, said "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it," which is a perfect quote considering Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn for adults, not middle/high school teenagers.
Parents have always voiced their opinions on school reading materials, but problems begin to arise when organizations such as "Parents Against Bad Books in Schools," and begin to stir up even more challenges. These groups are composed of like minded individuals, usually concerned parents, who track allegedly offensive books. There must be a time when parents realize that sheltering their children will do more harm than good in the long run. (
The real issue is with determination in which someone could find something offensive in any place where words are gathered together. The entire notion of book banning and censorship violates the sacred work of an author, who labored night and day to produce something that reflected his own views and opinions on the world. Why is the opinion of the author less important than that of the opposing party? Furthermore, to change this for the sake of "protecting" a child is overbearing, and shames the author whose work is challenged. In the case of Huckleberry Finn, the lingo that was used was not senseless swearing, it further enforced the reality of the south in the mid 19-century. Many of the challenged books were frequent reading for children in past generations. What gives parents the right to prevent their children to read these classics in their intended form, when they themselves read those very same books as young children? Many concerned parents have the same argument-- they want to do what is best for their children, and prevent them from being exposed to what they feel to be harmful. Certain situations, such as the fairly recent