Throughout the world there are thousands of books that are not allowed to be in some public libraries or schools, because they feature content that to some is considered not socially acceptable. These peoples ideas of what people and children should be allowed or not allowed to read has kept many classics and very popular books out of the hands of willing children. Stopping children from reading, to me is a horrible thing to do, espically in this day and age when reading is becoming a less and less popular thing to do it seems. An argument that has been often made about this subject is that it violates the First Amendment, something that our forefathers greatly believe in and one of the foundations of our government and rights. The first amendment, according to Wikipedia states
” ….prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment specifically prohibits the government from stopping or making an attempt to abridge the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Isn’t part of the freedom of speech the freedom of listening to someone’s speech, or in this case writing? How can the government deny someone the right of reading something when the constitution gives freedom of opinion, writing, speech, and therefore writing? Who’s right is it to decide that someone should or shouldn’t be allowed to read something?
Many of our forefathers were very fond of reading and having one’s own opinion be able to be expressed. Isn’t that what America and the colonists relied on, expressing their own opinions? There are so many important and historical books that students aren’t allowed to read because they feature terms and ideas, that while now they are considered offensive, back than were the norm and accepted socially. Gordon T Belt wrote a very good online article about this issue that really gave me somethings to think about, you can read it here.
“Thomas Paine is considered to be one of the most important and influential thinkers of his generation, yet his works, The Rights of Man (1791) and The Age of Reason (published in three parts in 1794, 1795 and 1807), were targets of hostility and censorship from the government and from the religious establishment for their perceived seditious and blasphemous content. Benjamin Franklin’s book, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791), was censored from its first publication for its bawdy language and references to his sexual dalliances”
It’s amazing to think that books from these influential people of both their time and today’s thoughts are being restricted because some of their subjects were too radical or not accepted by some people, so than the majourity of the people aren’t allowed to hear them. Its scary to think of the amazing stories that we aren’t allowed to hear because people don’t agree with them. The government in the past has kept many books and stories away from the public because the government didn’t like what they had to say or didn’t want the people to be thinking in those ways.
So who’s right is it to tell us what is okay for us to read and what isn’t? Why can they decide that certian books aren’t okay for anyone because they don’t agree with their beliefs or their idea of socially acceptable content? And why can the government so blatantly go against the First Amendment without any consequences? And lastly where is the line they draw on books that are “okay” and when will it become more strict?