Banning Books Essay

This essay has a total of 1275 words and 6 pages.

Banning Books



Banning Books
Our freedom is under attack! Censorship is clearly an attack on our freedom. There are a
number of books that are banned or challenged that are great books, such as The Grapes of
Wrath by John Steinbeck or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. These books
are classics. Banning these books robs students of great literature. Censorship of books
in secondary schools should not be allowed.

The list of books that have been banned completely in many schools across the nation is
expansive, and so are the reasons that parents and schoolboards give for banning these
books. Advocates of literary censorship say that it's best for the students. Opponents say
that it is detrimental to the educational system. The students have mixed emotions.

Literary censorship at the secondary school level is indeed very widespread. One of the
most controversial books is Huckleberry Finn, which is currently under fire by the
Pennsylvania Chapter of the NAACP because it contains the word “nigger” 39 times in the
first 35 pages. They feel that the liberal use of such a derogatory word is detrimental to
the self-esteem of young African-American children. The NAACP says that they want the book
removed from required-reading lists, but they are not out to censor it (Campbell, par. 4).
Large groups such as the NAACP are not the only people pushing for Huckleberry Finn's
banning in America's schools. Small groups of parents have protested the book's status as
required reading in their children's schools because of its language. Huckleberry Finn
isn't the only book targeted by parents.

Another frequently challenged book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This book was handed
out at an Irvine, California, middle school in 1992 with profane words such as “damn” and
“hell” blocked out. Students wrote to Bradbury describing the situation and pointing out
the irony that a book about the evils of censorship had to be censored before they could
read it. The books were soon replaced with uncensored ones (Campbell, par. 27).

The Catcher in the Rye was challenged in several school districts nationwide because of
the liberal use of slang and obscene words that author J.D. Sallinger used to make the
book more realistic. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has been banned in several
secondary schools for containing racist slurs. Some readers felt that the book portrayed
Negroes as barbarians and criminals. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare was
banned in a secondary school in Midland, Michigan, because a small group of parents felt
that the character Shylock projected a negative image of Jews. Another Shakespeare
classic, Twelfth Night, was banned in Merrimak, NH schools in 1996 after a "prohibition of
alternative lifestyle instruction" act was passed by the school board. Other Shakespearean
works have been challenged in various schools in America because parents and
administrators felt that some characters project a homosexual image ("Banned," par.7).

Every person who is involved in debate over literary censorship believes that he or she is
doing the right thing for the students. The advocates of literary censorship believe that
exposing children to such material as Huckleberry Finn in high school will contaminate
their minds with racist garbage at a time in their lives when they are searching for
things to believe in. Opponents see the banning of Huckleberry Finn in many schools a form
of censorship that will teach children that speaking their minds is not a good thing to do
(Campbell, par. 8). However, the debate over literary censorship in schools is not a
debate over whether or not literature should be censored at all. Most parents, teachers,
and administrators would agree that censorship is necessary to maintain a good environment
for learning. The debate is over whether or not to draw the line at Huckleberry Finn. If
the book was good twenty years ago, then why all of a sudden is it not good for students
to read anymore? People read the book before and they are doing just fine. If the book
can stand the test of time, then it must have some value to it. Even people who consider
themselves the most avid opponents of literary censorship in schools would agree that
pornography should be kept out of schools. In books such as Huckleberry Finn and To Kill
a Mockingbird, the point that the author was trying to get across when he or she included
the racist slurs in his or her writing is open to misinterpretation.

Some students, when given the opportunity, would chose not to read at all. Therefore it
is important that teachers expose their students to exceptional literature by requiring
them to read it. There is a huge difference between removing books from the curriculum and
removing them from the library. As long as the books are in the library, the students
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