11.29.2005

Censorship


In a recent editorial for Relevent Magazine, Whiting Out Our Sins: Banned Books, Kristen McCarty writes the following:
There are children who grow up in happy homes, untouched by abuse or tragedy. They have both a mother and father who love them. They have enough to eat every night and have friends at school. Perhaps they've never been exposed to racism or poverty. I was one of those kids, and I'm so thankful to have had the childhood I did. But many of my friends and schoolmates did not. Lyndon B. Johnson once made the claim, “Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” I know that in my own childhood and young adulthood, reading books...shaped and changed me. They gave me pictures of what other lives drastically different from my own looked like. They helped me to form empathy for the pain of others and tools for relating to those I had nothing in common with. It's sad and a little bit scary to think that if some people had their way, those books would never have been available to me to read in my school or neighborhood library.
After reading this editorial, I began to have a lot of questions in regard to censorship: When is censorship helpful? When is censorship harmful? Can we ever be truly consistent in regard to censorship? Although I have began to formulate answers to these questions, I still have a long way to go in my thoughts. Yet, one thing has become clear to me: Censorship comes from all sides. People want to censor the things that they disagree with, while calling for "no censorship" in regard to things they affirm.

Just to add to the discussion you may want to check out the
Banned Books Week, which is sponsored by American Library Association. The Banned Books Week "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."

So, what are your thoughts on censorship? Do you agree with the stance of the ALA regarding censorship? How should Christians respond to censorship issues involving tough issues such as pornography, etc? Let's join in on this conversation together. Post your thoughts in the comment section.

2 comments:

Travis said...

Censorship. There's a lot to that one I think. You've got to think about cultural values, and Christian morals and Governmental considerations like books in schools, and right now I can't really formulate a hard opinion on the issue, except for the fact that children are even more gullible than the general population, so I think this is important especially when you're dealing with brain washing children with unfriendly curriculum in public schools. I think I need to mull over it and get back to you man. And my prayers are with Alora too bro.

Eric said...

Yeah, there are so many different angles from which to approach this subject. In regard to children and books in school, I think there is a big difference between requiring children to read certain books vs. making books available to read. One of the most difficult questions for me is, where do we draw the line? Or to frame the question slightly different, at what point does freedom of speech need to be censored? In high school, my journalism teacher told us that "our rights end where other's rights begin." This could be a helpful principle in some cases. For instance, this principle would exclude child pornography from being called "artwork" or "freedom of expression" because the child's rights are being infringed upon (i.e. the child would not be mature enough to make a decision on whether or not to participate in such activities.) Sadly, I am sure that some would argue against this application. Of course, I wish that no pornography existed. I just cannot bring myself to see pornography as "art" or "freedom of expression." So, I guess I can draw some lines in the sand. Anyway, I'll stop rambling. I look forward to reading some of your thoughts soon. Also, thanks for praying for Alora.