The View Online
Red, white and bannedSunday, September 06, 2009 By Ayla Mitchell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, Song of Solomon; all are books that are banned in several schools across the nation. Most are completely removed from both school libraries and school curriculums. Over the last ten years parent and administrators alike have taken active roles in censoring student material. As mentioned above some of the most highly contested pieces, are works of classic authors whose names are revered in the literary community. Steinbeck, Morrison, Salinger, Wright the list goes on. Parents say that the content is offensive and unnecessary, political figures say that it desensitizes student to graphic material, and administration bends under the pressure and the fear of angry parents seeking to keep their children sheltered and “politically correct.” This represents a sad but common theme in American education, a country that prides itself on the power of its first amendment. There are far too many cases where relevant books were taken from a curriculum for “objectionable” content; whether it is sexual, graphic, violent, or in the case of several books published in the later 19th and early 20th century; contains historical context that is now offensive. While I certainly don’t condone the use of racial slurs, which are in the dialogue of Huck Finn, I just as equally don’t agree that children especially high school students should be banned from this content, for fear that it damages their social views. Unfortunately school’s responses to objectionable material are governed by parental anger and the legal power they hold. While I understand school’s hesitancy to arouse the wrath of student’s parents, there is a point when the battles must end. Fortunately, Desert Vista like some other schools has found a compromise; alternative materials are provided for student’s who opt to not read the provided book. Both courts and administrations attempt to draw the line when parents dictate the outlines or specifics of curriculum. Because; for some parents the fact that there child is not exposed to the material is simply not enough, more importantly some aggravated parents have gone so far and have succeeded in banning books completely from a school, including the institutions library. Examples of this include a high school in Louisville Kentucky, which has successfully barred all Toni Morrison books from its campus. Having read many of Morrison’s novels, I can say, that while yes some of the material is graphic it is no way gratuitous, and holds relevance to Morrison’s own experience and the themes of the story. What does this censorship accomplish? Where does the encroaching line of parental dictation and involvement end? For many parents it is the belief that by sheltering their children they are doing them a service. When in fact it is probably one of the greatest mistakes a parent could make. Most high school students are aware or will become aware within the next few years, what gay and lesbian relationships are, what sexual abuse is, how violence affects people etc. What saddens me the most is that advocates of censorship try to correlate teen violence or sex to the material given by schools. They would rather have a shield of ignorance around their child’s mind that through some mystical occurrence will be removed at the appropriate times, so they can successfully navigate their way through the world. Rather then have possibly negative material penetrate their educational scope.