Tag Archives: schools

The Controversy of Banned Books

Staff Writer, Chris Bennett

For the past 25 years, the United States has exhibited an event known as Banned Book Week. Often held the last week of September, this event calls attention to the banning and challenging of books, books facing these circumstances, and helps raise awareness of the freedom to read. The event was started in 1982, following a spike in the challenging of various works of literature, and was founded in an attempt to stop the banning of books. So what does it mean to ban a book? And how is it different from challenging a book?

Banned books are novels which have been removed from a place for one or multiple reasons. The severity of a ban can range from the novel in question being banned from one school or library, to being banned completely in a state, or even nationwide. A challenged book is one that has not been banned, but has been labeled as offensive by a person or group and thus faces the threat of becoming banned. If a novel is or has been frequently challenged, or challenged in excess, the book may eventually be banned.

Why are certain books challenged and banned?

In many cases, banned and challenged books contain inappropriate content, discuss a controversial topic, or are highly offensive to a certain ethnicity, religion, or political group. In recent years, the most challenged books have been ones deemed “sexually explicit” or “racist”, books with excessive profanity, and books viewed as inappropriate for their target audience. For example, children’s books depicting homosexuality and/or transgenderism have recently come under fire, as it has been argued these issues are too advanced for the mind of a young child to grasp.

There are several opinions on the subject of banning controversial material, with different arguments for each. Several people interviewed, and presumably a majority of the population, argue against the censorship of books, claiming that censoring material of any kind is a violation of the First amendment right to free speech (especially for the author), and causes people to become ignorant of certain opinions and ideas. Presumably, others argue that schools, libraries, and governments should have the right to ban books, arguing that some material is just too extreme or inappropriate for the public to be exposed to, and can be harmful to society. A majority interviewed, and likely a high percentage of the general public, have an opinion somewhere in the middle, arguing that while most books shouldn’t be banned, there are several notable exceptions when it becomes necessary to censor material. An example of a middle opinion is that of sophomore Amani Abumais, who commented “I think banning books is wrong. The authors have the right of free expression. But if an author has bad intentions for a book, or is using it to promote hate towards a certain group, it should be banned.

What are the pros and cons of banning books?

While the censorship of specific literature has little benefit, there are a few prominent positives. The biggest positive of being able to ban questionable or offense books is that doing so can prevent children from discovering more adult issues before they are ready to handle and understand them. This pro-book banning argument was put into terms by freshman Liam Holder, who commented “Banning books shields kids from the the horror of reality.” Banning books that are racist or insulting can be a good thing too, as it can prevent the groups targeted from becoming offended, and helps keep community relations strong.

However, these few benefits are greatly outweighed by the many negative consequences this practice presents. The biggest con is that banning books, in many instances, is a direct violation of the First Amendment right to free speech and expression, and is the very definition of censorship. This especially impacts the authors of these books, as their stories and opinions can no longer be heard, and they can no longer profit from the particular book or books banned. Even worse, the author’s whole reputation, or even career, can be tarnished if one of their works is banned, as this causes people to view the author unfavorably. Also, the censoring of books also often means the loss of history and ideas. As Sophomore, Luke Thomasson, commented, “If people censor books, they risk forgetting history; or repeating it.” Many people also argue that if someone is offended by a book, they should just leave it on the shelf and not try to have it banned for everyone else. Teacher, Justin Ingram, summarized the argument stating, “Once you start to censor things, you have to draw the lines, which is confusing and difficult. If you’re offended by a book, just don’t read it.”

While the efforts of librarians, teachers, and students have prevented the banning of many books, hundreds of challenges are still issued every year by various groups against several novels, with 10% of all books challenged eventually becoming banned. Some books even face the possibility of becoming banned nearly every year, as they are challenged dozens, or even hundreds of times. Worst of all, it is no longer just controversial material being banned and challenged. Some of the greatest books and book series in literary history now face the threat of being banned, or experiencing a much greater ban. Books like Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and even the Holy Bible have come under fire in recent years. Even the series Captain Underpants has become targeted, being the most challenged book in both 2012 and 2013, and receiving even more challenges than books with profanity and sexual content like Fifty Shades of Grey.

What should be done about book banning and challenging?

Those interviewed suggested petitioning governments and other organizations to prevent the banning of books, or creating something that will cause people to reconsider their choice. The American Library Association (ALA) website also has a page where those wanting to “stand for the banned,” where people can submit videos of themselves talking about the issues of censorship, or arguing for the unbanning of specific books. If people want to stop book banning they have to take action. In order to prevent the silence of censorship, people will have to speak out.

Works Cited and Further Reading:

(1996). Banned Books. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

Berry, S. (August 24, 2017) Parents Frightened: Kindergarteners ‘Crying, Shaking’ Over Transgender Book Teacher Read. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/08/24/parents-frightened-kindergartners-crying-shaking-transgender-book-teacher-read/

Brady, A. (September 22, 2016) The History (and Present) of Banning Books in America. Retrieved from http://lithub.com/the-history-and-present-of-banning-books-in-america/

Banned Books That Shaped America. Retrieved from http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/bannedbooksthatshapedamerica

(2013) Bannings and Burnings in History. http://www.freedomtoread.ca/links-and-resources/bannings-and-burnings-in-history/#.WdA8oEuGPrf

Advertisements

Should the confederate flag be banned from schools?

 Staff Writer, Allie Akers
Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 2.38.15 PM
Picture from:
NC schools ban ‘racially intimidating’ clothing amid Confederate flag controversy. (2017, June 13). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://eagnews.org/nc-schools-ban-racially-intimidating-clothing-amid-confederate-flag-controversy/

Should the Confederate flag be banned from schools? This is a topic that has always caused a lot of controversy, but it has recently made headlines following events in Charlottesville this past July. The debate centers around the question: Is this a violation of the first amendment? Also, is the flag a symbol of oppression or a symbol of heritage? Most recently, all Durham County Public Schools have banned the Confederate flag from the dress code. Other local schools, such as Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County, have already banned clothing featuring the flag. Some argue that banning the flag only causes more debate and protest than before. Others counter argue that it prevents distractions and conflict, by not allowing symbols that many people see as a threat. However, due to the current political climate, this is not an issue that can be ignored.Voyager Academy has been facing this question and, as of this writing, has not made a decision. The Viking Tide asked some Voyager High Schoolers on which route they think Voyager should take and why. “No, I don’t see the issue (in banning the flag). The reason behind this is, when I see the Confederate flag, I think of the hate it brought my people in America,” says Madison Carter, a sophomore. “Students would be mad because they think you’re violating their right to expression,” said Kyla Crooks, sophomore. Shawn Sullivan, another sophomore, states: “I don’t think they should ban it because I’ve never seen it. If they ban it, it would only bring attention to it… There’s more history to a confederate flag than a KKK symbol, like that would be a different story.”

This brings us to the legal questions of banning the flag on campuses. Is banning the Confederate flag in schools violating the first amendment? There have been several cases of this brought to court, including Castorina ex rel. Rewt vs. Madison County school Bd., Bethel School District No. 403 vs. Fraser, and several others. However, in the end, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that schools banning students wearing clothing that shows the Confederate flag does not violate the first amendment. In civics class at Voyager, the students had to do an assignment on taking notes of a video on the Tinker vs. Des Moines case.

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 2.40.20 PM
Agiesta, J. (2015, July 02). Poll: Majority sees Confederate flag as Southern pride – CNNPolitics. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/02/politics/confederate-flag-poll-racism-southern-pride/index.html

In July of 2015, following the murder of nine African Americans in a South Carolina church by white supremacist Dylann Roof, CNN took a poll to see what viewers thought of the Confederate flag. The questions was whether one saw the flag as a sign of racism or “Southern pride.” As results poured in, the final numbers showed 33% felt it was racist and 57% believed that it was a sign of Southern pride. CNN says that, “The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride.” Even following the Far Right march in Charlottesville, 43 percent of Americans polled still believe it’s a symbol of pride, compared with 38 percent who view it as a symbol of racism, according to an August 2017 Economist/YouGov poll. A Reuters poll, also from August, agreed with those findings, and stated that 54 percent of people said Confederate monuments should remain in public spaces, versus 27 percent that believe they should be removed. Both polls find responses split along party lines. In the end, it’s the people’s choice whether the Confederate flag shall remain in schools or be banned.

 

Agiesta, J. (2015, July 02). Poll: Majority sees Confederate flag as Southern pride – CNNPolitics. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/02/politics/confederate-flag-poll-racism-southern-pride/index.html

NC schools ban ‘racially intimidating’ clothing amid Confederate flag controversy. (2017, June 13). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://eagnews.org/nc-schools-ban-racially-intimidating-clothing-amid-confederate-flag-controversy/

Confederate flag in school and free speech (October 2016 School Leader Update). (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.educateiowa.gov/resources/laws-and-regulations/legal-lessons/first-amendment/confederate-flag-school-and-free-speech

Willets, S. (2017, August 28). Durham Public Schools Ban Confederate Flags, Other Divisive Symbols. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2017/08/24/durham-public-schools-ban-confederate-flags-other-divisive-symbols

Volokh, E. (2015, September 21). Opinion | The Confederate flag, the First Amendment and public schools. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/21/the-confederate-flag-the-first-amendment-and-public-schools/?utm_term=.a9c21e480fe0

Kahn, C. (2017, August 21). A majority of Americans want to preserve Confederate monuments: Reuters/Ipsos poll. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-protests-poll/a-majority-of-americans-want-to-preserve-confederate-monuments-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKCN1B12EG

Frankovic, K. (n.d.). Trump’s domestic crisis: Charlottesville and white nationalists. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://today.yougov.com/news/2017/08/16/trumps-domestic-crisis-charlottesville-and-white-n/?belboon=031b3908984b04d39400589a%2C4711850%2Csubid&pdl.rlid=203577