I recently had an interesting yet terrifying thought. Censorship is taught everyday in school. Children, for all twelve years of their education, are taught to offend no one and censor everything they think and say. I do not think that students should make one another cry on a daily basis but I think the difference between censoring hate and censoring ideas should be taught. Even though when someone says they do not believe in God another person who does will not like that idea it does not mean that it will harm them. If a person were to say that they "hate you and think your God is a figment of your imagination," a little self-censoring probably could be used.
Instead of teaching the constructive self-censoring of keeping arguments on topic and away from personal attacks, complete censoring is taught. Kids are taught to not speak about things that are controversial and to not say anything that will offend anyone.
This does not prepare them for life. It makes the world a worse place. When polled, the majority of people say the government should demand that media represent both republican and democratic spokesmen in any political article. I am all for balanced reporting, but because we are taught to fear debate and possible unbalance the majority of Americans want their government to control the media. That is a problem.
I sat through a presentation today that listed statistic after statistic showing that the majority of people polled want the government to require the media to balance this or that and not say anything negative about a religion, race, etc. One person in the audience actually said they felt the media had "too much freedom" because they are allowed to constantly show "all that stuff about war and negative issues." They felt the media should be required to show more "positive" news BY THE GOVERNMENT!
This scares me. I am on the Intellectual Freedom Committee and we battle the issue of censorship in schools and libraries, but the session was demoralizing for me. The majority of the population wants to throw away their rights and every one's 1st Amendment right just to keep the peace without a specific issue being discussed. Those stats were as general as could be. Abortion, homosexuality, Jesus, Iraq War, etc was never mentioned. I might understand these stats more if first the poller had mentioned a divisive issue, but they didn't.
I have far more respect for a crazy fundamentalist mother who wants to shield her child from sex by banning a book for everyone than I do for the people who answered those polls. I think it all circles back to how schools try to cookie cut children to keep the peace and sacrifice real thought and initiative. It is okay to talk about divisive issues and to allow books with questionable ideas and images to remain on the shelf. It is okay to offend each other occasionally. The Westboro protestors should be allowed to protestor at funerals and I should be allowed to say that they disgust me and are close-minded crazies who should be put down. They are offended, I am offended and America remains free and happy.
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