The Censorship Debate

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The Censorship Debate

Do words such as nigger, bitch, or ass offend you? The answer may seem clear cut, but our nation has been struggling with the issue of censorship almost since its conception. To many, the aforementioned words are a part of their everyday vocabulary; to others, they are vulgar and unacceptable. The issue of censorship is much more than just words. There have been huge controversies over the negative ideas and graphic nature of literature, music, and television. What is too violent, too negative, too obscene, or too graphic? And who decides what these standards are? These are questions that are still debated by many.

Literature has the greatest history of censorship debates. For years, there have been arguments over what is acceptable for which age group in which environment. A prime example of this is Robert Cormier's young adult novel, I Am The Cheese. Over the past few years in Florida, there has been great debate over whether or not his book is acceptable for use in a junior high or high school classroom. The novel, which portrays a preteen boy who has been part of the witness protection program, and sees his parents killed when the program fails, has been labeled inappropriate for use in a classroom. Many teachers argue that the book has substantial educational value, citing the many awards that it has won, but the faction for censorship won this battle, and the book is no longer taught. Many other literary works, some which are considered classics, have also been deemed inappropriate. Some titles include: Hamlet, The Red...

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...eedom of speech. Our country was founded on one of these ideas, but our morals and values may be dependent on the other. As a nation, we must decide which is more important. I do not feel that there can be any halfway in this decision. We cannot ban some things and leave others, it has to be all or nothing. If we are going to censor, we must accept the fact that everything will be affected. Then we must deal with the issue of who decides the standards, a problem which may be as monumental as deciding whether or not to censor in the first place. If we decide against censorship, then we must be prepared to deal with whatever is created, no matter how graphic, obscene, or violent any individual may feel that it is. It is likely that we will never reach an accord, and will be debating this until the end of time.
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