Books Plays And Films Should Be Censored Essay Writing

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Against Banning Books

August 30, 2009

The Catcher in the Rye. The Scarlet Letter. Huckleberry Finn. Harry Potter. The Diary of Anne Frank. Animal Farm. To Kill a Mockingbird. The Da Vinci Code. The Grapes of Wrath. These literary classics have been vital to the education of many, especially children and adolescents. These great novels both teach important values and educate children about world affairs and classic themes. Unfortunately, each of these novels has been banned at one point in time. Many of these classic stories have been banned because of sexual references, racial slurs, religious intolerance, or supposed witchcraft promotion. Although some may consider these books controversial or inappropriate, many English classes have required us to read these books. Like the teachers that assigned us these books, I believe that even controversial books can ultimately boost, not deter, our educational wealth. I oppose book banning for three main reasons. First, I believe that education should be open to everyone. Everyone should have an opportunity to read any literature of their choosing and form his or her own opinions based on the reading. Micah Issitt lists "three basic rights covered under the freedom of the press: the right to publish, the right to confidentiality of sources, and the right of citizens to access the products of the press." My second reason specifically addresses the last right stating that citizens should have access to the press. The government should not restrict books from being published or interfere into personal affairs as this is an infringement of the First Amendment. Finally, I believe that parents should monitor what their own children read, but not have the authority to ban other children from reading these novels. For these reasons, I conclude that the government should play no role in the issue what citizens do and do not read, and that book restriction should remain a solely private matter.
At first glance, the debate over banning books appears unimportant. Nevertheless, this debate has divided our nation into those who favor censoring books to protect their impressionable adolescents, and those who argue that education should be open for everybody without interference from the government in restricting the publishing and accessing of these books. Issitt argues that censoring books violates the First Amendment, stating that "citizens must be free to seek out any media, regardless of content, that they deem appropriate for entertainment, information, or education. Denying the rights of the consumer, in any area, is one of the hallmarks of authoritarianism."

While I do not equate banning books with "authoritarianism," we do endorse Issitt's belief that individual citizens have the right to choose, under their own discretion, what books to read. The First Amendment protects the freedom of expression and speech, and by prohibiting certain messages, the government clearly infringes upon public rights. On the other hand, Healey claims that censorship does not "repress information that teenagers and children are exposed to," but merely gives parents the rights to educate their children in the ways they deem appropriate. Though I concede that parents do have the right to monitor what their children read, they do not have the right to remove books from public libraries or monitor what other children in the city read. Healey attempts to persuade readers that "censorship of books should not be about silencing voices on important topics, but about steering young people toward the best possible literature;" however, she fails to specify what constitutes as "the best possible literature." Some of "the best possible literature" also happen to cause the most controversy, including Huck Finn, Harry Potter, The Scarlet Letter, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Those who protest against these books have clearly not studied them in depth. For example, the main theme in Huckleberry Finn focuses not on advocating racism, as some suggest, but proving that race does not define a person's intelligence or capability for compassion. Even Healey admits that "concerned parents and community members react without taking the time to closely investigate the books they want banned."

While I agree that parents should play an active role in educating their children and as their primary guardians, have the legal right to monitor what their children read, I disagree that this legal right extends to controlling what other children in the neighborhood read as well. Prohibiting children from reading a book will not enhance their moral values. Rather, banning a book more likely will increase curiosity for reading it. I also empathize with parents who ban books with controversial or uncomfortable subjects because they are unsure as to how their children will react or how to explain such topics. A good way to discuss these subjects with children is to read books with various views on the subject so that children can experience multiple points of view before forming their own opinions. Healey herself agrees that such a method "might help young people better understand the world they live in, the human condition, and issues they face in their culture."

As Healey stated, parents also tend to ban books based on "moral grounds, although some books have been condemned for their perspectives on civic values and history." For this very reason, the general public should read these books. Our society, especially our younger children, needs to read these books since fully understanding a topic requires knowledge of both sides. If we choose to disregard even a highly unpopular opinion, we intentionally choose to live in ignorance, only partially educated in a topic we claim to know so well. Without a doubt, if we continue to ban books and ignore what some consider taboo topics, we hinder ourselves and our children from finding ways to solve society's problems, thus hampering the development of our nation as a whole.

Many conservative groups make the argument that the books that have been banned have material that is inappropriate, immoral or contradicting the beliefs they have ingrained in their children and/or their society. Take for consideration the controversial books that tackle difficult, touchy social issues like homosexuality. Books like "Heather Has Two Mommies," by Leslea Newman and "Daddy's Roommate" by Michael Willhoite (both books written for youth with gay parents) were shot down by conservative groups because they attempted to educate children about homosexuality, an issue parents felt needed to be taught to their respective children by them. While this may seem like a valid argument, really it is just skirting around the actual issue. Book-banning cases usually concern the protection of children and their innocence, but all that is happening is sheltering parents showing an awkward avoidance of their children's confrontation with uncomfortable matters. It is not only selfish, but also harmful to the overall education of their children. This act of prohibiting books is just the parents way of evading of the conversation with their child about these sensitive issues. These two books are issues that Healey brings up in her argument on how groups were upset about the way these books informed their children of homosexuality. Homosexuality and other touchy social issues are part of every day life, and for a group to attempt to censor this subject from younger society is almost absurd; these issues are not monstrous and the censorship of them not only shows prejudice but lack of respect. Banning books seems to be the most public solution for a private matter- not everyone should have to suffer restrictions because one group feels uncomfortable with the book. That being said, there are often books that contain graphic and often highly inappropriate material; I do consent that these books should be censored at the discretion of the parent, or anyone involved however, no one is forcing books upon others, so we should not be forced to remove them. Other groups would say that it's also the duty of the government to regulate these books to protect concerned citizens and their families, but I would have to disagree. It's the exact opposite of the government's role- our private lives, the books we read, should be regulated and controlled by us. Banning books from public congregations is not what the government was intended to do.

Topics that seem socially outlawed in public, let alone published, have been banned because their immoral content may have a negative affect on younger children. In these books, authors doesn't promote or encourage bad behaviors, they prepare their readers for some of the real world challenges. The child would never be able to learn these things if the book was banned, nor be able to form his or her own opinion about that certain topic. Healey discusses that the book, 33 Snowfish, a "dark story of three teenage runaways who are victims of various forms of abuse..." by Adam Rapp may be an unsuitable way to educate children on these timely topics. However, having these stories banned all together would just further shelter a child whose parents may not be willing to discuss these issues with them at all. Even though these books center around scary topics, they are educating children on real life matters that they will be exposed to once they venture into the world themselves. Healey goes on to make the point that the books should not be banned as well, since it is a matter of private opinion not one to be made by the public libraries of a community. She suggests that schools should "inform parents about the kinds of books they offer children" in their libraries and classrooms instead of banning them. With the knowledge that some of these books have to offer, children can learn how not to act and what can be the consequences if they do misbehave. This learning experience could turn around with the help of a parent and pass a positive affect over the child.

Clearly, banning books not only hinders a child's educational development but also leaves them unaware of the true state of the world. Books do not simply impart general information; they heavily influence a child, the future generation. Without regular access to books, both adults and children could not form sound opinions, only narrow-minded ones. Both advocates and opposers of book banning agree that "books are powerful instruments." Otherwise, a debate on the subject would neither have arisen nor lasted so long. Because books "can be used to...inculcate values and transmit ideology, and to stimulate the imagination," as Healey suggests, any person should remain free to select his or her reading material. This personal issue of selecting reading material has no relation to the government. On the contrary, government action interferes with individual education, a primary American value. Ultimately, children can learn personal responsibility in determining which books to regard and which to discard. In the future, these children will become well-educated adults who can benefit the American society.

  • Hate speech is unacceptable

    Are there cases where it is beneficial for the government to censor television and other media? The answer is blatantly yes. If there was a television program that was hideously racist, called for harm against a specific group of individual or something similarly vile it would be a clear harm to society. The government should intervene in these cases to protect the rights of those at risk of harm or whom are actively being harmed.

  • Yes, to an extent.

    I am one of the few people who has had the ability to see many of the pictures of recent shootings not released to the public. The public should not see them, and I am glad they were censored. Showing of overly graphic photos and videos is unnecessary, the fact that elementary school children were shot to death is a difficult enough reality to endure, we (the public) do not need to see pictures of five year olds with their heads blown off. Though there are many issues I believe the government should not be able to censor, such as complaints against the government, there are certain topics that need to be censored for the good of society.

  • Censorship in the United States

    Of course there needs to be some censorship, even in America.

    Because there are children, there has to be censorship of TV, movies, etc. During certain hours of the day.

    Children do not need to watch a pornography or extreme violence on TV, which is why programs rated “R” are using not shown during the day, but late at night. It is the parent’s responsibility to make sure their kids don’t watch it in the evenings.

    What is the FCC’s Responsibility?
    The FCC, however, does have enforcement responsibilities in certain limited instances. For example, the Courts have said that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be banned entirely. It may be restricted, however, in order to avoid its broadcast when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience. Between 6 A.M. And 10 P.M. (when there is the greatest likelihood that children may be watching,) airing indecent material is prohibited by FCC rules. Broadcasters are required to schedule their programming accordingly or face enforcement action. Similarly, the Commission has stated that profane material is prohibited between 6 A.M. And 10 P.M.

    Finally, the courts have ruled that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot be broadcast at any time. For more information about these rules visit the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau website or see our consumer guide.

    I am assuming that anonymous’s comment about personal responsibility and discretion was directed at adults and not children.

    America is a very advance and we have had censorship for the purpose of protecting minors for over a century.

    I am not sure how you force discretion on anyone. There are many laws in society that limit your choices, e.G., breaking the speed limit. You have discretion in whether you want to break those laws.

    You can't go out in a public place and start swearing at everyone and saying I want to form an army to overthrow the US government. There are laws against disturbing the peace, and treason.

    And, freedom of speech does not apply at your work place (i.E., your employer can fire you for saying anything that is against company policy) or at websites, like debate.Org, which can have terms of agreements that limit how you say whatever you say or in retail department stores. The retail store can have you thrown out of the store for opening your mouth too loudly about anything they want if you are creating a disturbance.

  • Nudity and violence is not for children

    Besides that, ideas should never be censored in any country that isn't a totalitarian cesspit. I think a lot of countries have subtle ways of censoring television and media, maybe not direct censoring but promoting some ideas over others. There is almost never a government run campaign or advertisement that promotes thinking on both sides of the argument; it's always 'this is right because of this'.

  • Media Content: A Big Uh-Oh.

    Messages presented through media, in this day and age, are truly foul. Not because of the fact that swearing is only saying 'bad words' or because inappropriate content can expose unwanted truths to innocent people; but because of their uses, their meanings and how heavily they intoxicate the minds of teenagers.

    As technology is becoming such a demanding part of our lives, and especially that of teenagers, an individual must consider the risks of including foul content. It promotes verbal and physical arrogance in an extremely strong manner. Consequently, teenagers are picking it up subconsciously and are ultimately not able to correctly decide on in which situation such can be acceptable. To brainwash the minds of such young people can be a certain sign of an unsuccessful future.

    Additionally, foul content is truly unacceptable for individuals growing up with certain ethnic values. It must be necessary for the government to consider the importance of presenting appraisable content which will not condescend the values of viewers (unless, and if only, they want World War 111). Respect is a key to success, and it is imperative that the government builds its trust foundation by censorship.

    Censorship is compulsory for such degrading media. It will put arrogance to a halt in teenagers and will prove to be appreciated by a crowd with different ethnic values to our own. It is truly advised that the government considers such substantial benefits that come from carrying out censorship in media.

  • Too much smut, ignorance, stupidity, lewd sex abnormalties, no morals, no family values,

    I have a six year old granddaughter and I don't want her to be able to access the things I've written in my supporting headline, I myself do not appreciate turning on the TV and in prime time seeing two men swapping spit together on a sitcom type program, I think that as rude to be shown on TV, I don't care what they do behind closed doors but it shouldn't be flagged in front of the peoples faces who don't believe in that kind of stuff

  • It should because

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  • Child therapist says Definitely.

    In my office every day I see children anxious, scared, hypersexualized, and even traumatized partially from things they are seeing, hearing and experiencing on various media including TV, movies and the internet. Kids are much more sensitive little beings than most people realize. For proper development they must feel safe. No child should have free access to pornography on the internet or TV. No child should see adults on TV "having sex," be exposed to extreme violence, or hear extremel language, for the same reason as a society we know it's inappropriate and harmful to expose them to these things in real life. Saying they will probably hear or see it elsewhere is not a valid reason to do the wrong thing, and is abandoning our responsibility as adults to protect children and allow for their healthy development. Those who have been abused, in particular, feel triggered and even threatened by unwanted exposure to sexualized shows and commercials (Example: Man to his food: Mmmm..Mmm...You're driving me crazy. You naughty little...(spank). (Male boss: Did you just spank your food? Nice!!" Tagline: X Brand: Food you want to fork.), Is this what we've come to? This commercial is supposed to be "funny" because of course it makes you think of the word FXXX, and this is really what we're supposed to say to women, them being only objects for men's satisfaction and all. Is this funny or appropriate to anyone? Would you like your 6-year-old saying, "Look, I'm spanking my food...You naughty little thing....Mmmm" to his/her teachers or to you? Kids repeat what they hear and see. Ask any teacher in a public school, any police officer, any family court representative, anyone in child protective services, and they will tell you the impact inappropriate media is having on children. Yes, there are many other factors negatively affecting kids, but in my opinion inappropriate media plays a not insignificant part, and putting sensible limits on what kids are exposed to is better for them, for society, and for all of our futures.

  • Think about the kids.....

    Imagine you and your child sitting down watching a movie and then bad words come up he is going to say them like mad plus, studies show that children will repeat any word they hear be it in the house, cinema or adverts. I strongly suggest that ALL movies should censor their bad words unless the age is above 16.

  • It should be

    Because . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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