p seems unnecessary, and an infringement upon the rights of citizens of the United States of America. A third area in which censorship has taken place is in literature. Censorship in literature has increased dramatically in recent years. In fact, from 1991 to 1994, there has been more than a 50% increase in the number of demands that books be banned in schools libraries as well as public libraries(Zeinert, 109). Some of the books being demanded to be removed from libraries nationwide include, Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, Forever, by Judy Blume, and The Bridge to Terabithia, written by Katherine Paterson.
These American classics have been removed from shelves due to various reasons. Mark Twains novel, for example, has been attacked for its use of the term nigger, as well as its portrayal of African American slaves. The state office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a statement, Feb. 3, 1998, claiming that Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is offensive to black students and should be banned from classrooms across the state (Meyer, Internet).
This kind of censorship, whether it be from public or school libraries, not only denies the author freedom expression, but denies the reader the ability to judge for themselves the contents of a book. Many children learn about racism, sex, abuse, or drugs through books that some libraries have banned. Without these books, some children will not come to conclusions about these subjects until they are encountered in the real world, and some important lessons such as trusting yourself, knowing what you believe in, and having tolerance will not be learned until the children are adults(Chafee, 199). It is not right to deny people important lessons in life by denying them the right to choose which materials they read, just because some might find it offensive. Once again, rating can be placed on books that give parents the idea of what they are reading before even opening the book, and so censorship is not needed, but only information. The final, and probably most controversial, issue on the topic of censorship concerns the Internet.
In the past ten years, the Internet has become one of the hottest areas of debate dealing with censorship. Once again, the majority of concern comes in with the nations youth. The Internet, a tool by which great amounts of information can be found, also holds profanity, violence, and especially sexual material. With over 60% of American households owning a personal computer, and over 90% of children in the United States having access to the Internet in some way, there needs to be a way to safeguard these children from harmful material(Meyer, Internet).
Once again, censorship is not the way. It is unconstitutional to censor, ban, or control any Internet sites containing sexually explicit material(Meyer, Internet). However, due to the fact that a large percentage of the nations youth has access to the Internet, it is not unreasonable to expect some sort of control on sexually explicit material. After all, it is illegal for a minor to purchase pornography. In the same way, children should not be allowed to view sexually explicit material on the Internet.
By the same reasoning, sexually explicit material cannot be banned from the Internet, because adults have the right to purchase, and therefore view this material. Instead, Internet sites have been forced to at least advertise that their site contains sexually explicit material, and that you must be at least of legal age to enter(Meyer, Internet). This is not enough protection for the youth. New technology, such as the E-chip, much like what can be used to help parents limit what their children can watch on television is now available for the Internet. This technology allows parents to control the type of material their children can view on the Internet without censoring material for all people.
So once again, the parents are in control of the process of censoring, and not the government. This leaves the legal issues of the First Amendment and the freedom to speech out of the picture while still helping limit what children see. In 1997, President Clinton has voiced his support of such material and parent involvement, as well as stricter enforcement of laws prosecuting those Internet users who intentionally break pornography laws(Meyer, Internet). Clinton has also pushed popular Internet providers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator to provide free programs with their products to allow parents to control what their children can access(Meyer, Internet).
Once again, this steps back from censorship and violating the rights of American citizens, and steps towards giving parents the tools they need to protect their children. People should be able to express ideas in any type of medium without government regulations. All the areas that currently concern censorship have created a lot of controversy in the United States courts. Due to the nature of the Constitution, these controversies may never be fully solved. However, it is clear that censorship is not the best answer to many of the issues it directly deals with. Instead, giving the ability for parents to control what their children have access to in everyday life is a much better alternative.
Not only does this method refrain from infringing on the rights of citizens, but it also allows parents to individually choose what they see fit for their children. The government needs to continue to support such ideas as the V-chip and E-chip, that give parents control. Not only will it help keep the government out of family affairs, but it will stop them from having to make laws that may reduce peoples rights and cause further problems. Bibliography 1st Amendment. 1999.
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