A Few Comments on Censorship

By Anne

Do you ever wonder if we are losing our freedom? To answer that question we must ask a few of our own, beginning with: What exactly is this ideal we call "freedom"? The dictionary defines freedom as "liberation from the power of another". Sounds anticlimactic for a belief that millions have died for over the course of history, doesn't it?

Perhaps that's because freedom, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. America has been called "The Land of Opportunity". Our freedom provides us with that opportunity to pursue our dreams and ambitions. The Constitution clearly states that all men are created equal and each shall have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom is not as easy for some to grasp as others. Children, for example have less freedom than many other groups in our world because they cannot pursue it. Due to their youth they are dictated to not only by laws, but also by teachers and parents.

Censorship is an important issue facing our country right now. Loss of freedom is not only part of the history books, it is in our libraries and bookstores today.

Censorship does have a purpose in a society that is rapidly becoming less concerned with gratuitous violence and pornography on television, but we don't stop there. Not only are video games censored, but, in this quest to protect our children we've deprived them of many literary masterpieces along the way.

Books whose titles grace the "banned" list range from James Joyce's Ulysses (recently voted best novel of the twentieth century by Modern Library) to Little Red Riding Hood, which was banned from two California school districts in 1989 because Little Red Riding Hood carried a bottle of wine to her grandmother. Banning a fairy tale is going too far, but does the list stop there?

Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn have been controversial since their publications and there is rarely a time when you cannot find someone who is trying to get them off our library bookshelves. Jack London's Call of the Wild was banned for

being "too radical"; while Aristophanes' play Lysistrata was actually banned for being "anti-war". Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was banned from publication due to "explicit language".

Geoffrey Chaucer's literary triumph, The Canterbury Tales, has been banned, along with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, MacBeth, and King Lear. Shakespeare's, Twelfth Night, was also banned in 1996 because of a "prohibition of alternative lifestyle instruction", better known as "cross-dressing".

One of the current battles against literary censorship is being fought over the controversial Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, which, though it has inspired countless children to read, has been accused of having ties to the Occult. Anyone who has read Harry Potter (as millions of children and adults alike have) can tell you that it does not encourage evil, but rather fights it. It fights to make our society a much better place by instilling our children with a love of books and reading. It has inspired thousands to start writing their own stories, draw pictures of the characters, and access their own creative gifts. These books are clearly a God-send, so how can people who consider themselves to love God wish to ban them?

Perhaps, though, the most shocking bans are those of religious scriptures including the Koran (Qur'an) and the Bible. People who wish to ban many of these aforementioned books often support their opinions with religious beliefs that are not shared by the greater population. If those people realized that such religious scriptures were some the most prominent titles on the "Banned" list, they might think twice before they lobbied to add to it. So, if you say we are protecting our children by chipping away at their freedom, I ask you, just what are we protecting them from?

Author's Note: First of all I'd like to thank you for reading my point of view, regardless of whether you agree with it or not. This was originally a school essay about freedom, which I modified for these purposes. Censorship is, obviously, an issue I feel quite strongly about, but I wonder if I expressed my feelings well here. I’m not sure.

Secondly, I'd like everyone to note that I am Christian and am in no way trying to offend anyone with this essay, Christian or otherwise. I'm simply trying to get across my beliefs the best way I know how. As in any other group so large, not all Christians agree on much - you have conservatives and liberals, Protestants and Catholics, all nationalities and many other barriers to contend with - I hope that you will not judge all Christians, or Harry Potter fans for that matter, on the basis of this essay, just as I would not want to be judged on something I disagreed with (book banning for example).

If you'd like to contact me to express an opinion about this essay, please do so at annesparkles@hotmail.com. Thanks for your time!