First Amendment – Censorship Essay

I did my report on the First Amendment. The First Amendment of the United States states that, “Congress shall make no law against the freedom of speech, nor of the press. ” However, the list of banned books in public schools and libraries is astonishing. Most people against literary censorship act with what they beleive to be highest cause: protecting their families as well as their communities from evil. They see that they are preserving the values that the the entire society should take in to account.

The result is always the denial of another person’s right to read. And by denying that right, you deny the personal freedom that every child and young adult deserves. There is an excellent essay written by Nat Hentoff entitled, “Why Teach Us to Read and Then Say We Can t”. In his essay, Hentoff talks about several different ways books were challenged in public schools. Hentoff believes that eliminating books from schools is a form of thought control. He states, “Attempts to control what children read, and thereby think, have been increasing across the country.

It is evident, supported by his findings, that there is a major problem in this country when it comes to the censorship of books that children can read. Why do people see it as a solution to the problems of America s education system? Some school distrcts were trying to ban Mark Twain’s calssic,”Huckleberry Finn” because of what it contained. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was pursuing the issue based on the fact that it contained a word a number of times that is now preceived as an extremely offensive racial slur.

The NAACP felt that the use of such a modern-day derogatory word would hurt the self-esteem and feelings of students in minority groups. This was so hard for me to understand based two on facts. One: Twain used such slurs as a way to show the tone and setting of that time they were used. Two: Twain was against the discriminatory treatment of African-Americans. Each person that is involved in the debate over literary censorship believes that they are doing the right thing for the students. However, I believe that kids and young adults, should be given the opportunity to determine for themselves what is offensive and what is acceptable.

I have found that this type of learning is a good thing for a person s morale, and will make that child a stronger and more knowledgeable person in the end. If that child is sheltered from all that is seen as “offensive” around him, he will grow up totally clueless to the real world. In closing, I will leave you with a quote by Alfred Whitney that I think is suitable, “Books won t stay banned. They won t burn. Ideas won t go to jail. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is liberal education. ”

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