Censorship: Scarier than Goosebumps?

For my Communications class, our first major assignment is called a pro con symposium. In our group of 4, some of us take the pro side of an issue while others take on the con (hey that rhymes) and we present our own cases. It has to be well argued and full of evidence.

So naturally, we chose the legalization of prostitution.

And I’m on the pro side.

This type of freedom – the freedom to choose an inappropriate topic – wasn’t a thing in high school. And it bothered me.I started thinking about censorship more this morning in my Journalism (intro to mass communication) class. We got on the topic of books and how some are banned from schools.

Books like Harry Potter and Goosebumps were on the list. Apparently, the content of those novels were deemed a threat to youth by certain people.

I understand censorship. Certain topics are not suited for younger people. But I think it can go a little far.

What’s even wrong with the Goosebumps series???? Are they too scary despite being written at an elementary level? Is it because literal goosebumps on skin are possibly a result of evolution – a remnant of wings – and we can’t let children know anything about a heavily researched biological theory that has much supporting evidence?

Where did Harry Potter go wrong? Was Hermione too difficult to pronounce? Are they concerned that children are going to become interested in witchcraft? Maybe we should also stop feeding them sandwiches. Remove sand from the word and what do you have? A sin, according to some of the parents of today.

Besides official bans, there were certain things we had to watch out for in school. No cussing. No discussion of taboo topics, including prostitution. No expression of opinions that were too radical.

My problem with these restraints is that they make developing our cognitive processes more difficult. If we can’t discuss certain things, how are we going to form opinions on them when we’re confronted with them in the real world? For example, what if someone asks me if I feel that prostitution should be legalized? I’ve been taught that it’s bad, so I’d probably say no. But would I have any legitimate reasoning for my answer?

With censorship, decisions are made FOR US. We don’t get to decide whether or not we like something because we aren’t even exposed to it. Why can’t you at least give students the option of, say, reading literature with swear words and deciding for themselves how they feel about it?

Before forming an opinion on anything, you’ve got to consider both sides. And if you’ve been socialized to only accept one side of something, that process is going to be really hard.

Now, I’m thinking about curriculum – specifically U.S. History. Sometime a year or two ago, I read on the website tumblr that in 1999, the U.S. government was found guilty of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hm. I wonder what made them forgot to mention that crucial piece of information.

A few months ago, I found a documentary on Netflix called “Spies of Mississippi.” By watching it, I learned that the Mississippi government created a spy agency for the purpose of upholding segregation and breaking apart the civil rights movement. This is one of my favorite documentaries, mostly because of how intriguing it was.

It’s gotten to the point now where if I find something crucial about U.S. History through the internet FROM A VALID SOURCE, I’m barely surprised. I went to school to become educated, but sometimes, that didn’t happen. I realize that now.

It’s a little scary to take a step back and realize how much censorship affected me. Information was withheld from me. My way of thinking was altered. Who would I be today if I had been allowed to access valuable censored information when I was younger?


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