Censorship vs. free speech is by no means a new debate, yet it remains, not only as an issue, but as a very real threat to our education system. Though it may be in the name of “shielding” our nation’s youth, this practice is contradictory to the very first right we were given as citizens in a free nation, the freedom of speech. Contrary to popular belief, students do have the same right to freedom of speech as any other citizen.
Censorship is often viewed as a way to protect individuals, such as children, from exposure to indecent content. However, censorship is not doing anyone any favors. By censoring certain books from schools, for example, we are teaching students to hide from the harsh realities of the world, rather than face them head on. Classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are among many books that are often banned due to parents disapproving of their swearing, racial slurs, and content in general. These works, though fictional, are no different from any history lesson in that they reflect how the world once was, and the realities that many have faced and do face today. Most importantly, they teach students about the world outside of the one they live in. By putting such content into a literary work, readers are able to share emotions with these characters and relate to them in a way they may be unable to in their day-to-day lives.
Censorship promotes ignorance, which is a very real threat to humanity in that it widens the gap between people and encourages people to fear diversity rather than celebrate it. Schools are meant to educate students and prepare them for the world, not to shelter them from the harsh realities of it. Books also provide new perspectives, which in turn teach empathy and motivate us to grow and improve upon an imperfect world.
We are fortunate enough to have this privilege and should use it to grow and better ourselves as humans. Our schools are not nearly as censored as they are in other parts of the world and we should use this knowledge to help those less fortunate. The phrase “knowledge is power” is true, and while it may not always be convenient, it can lead to a better world. By rejecting censorship and embracing free speech in schools we are teaching America’s youth to learn from both past and present mistakes, to help create a better future.