Censorship is [redacted] stupid.

Censorship is damaging in schools

Nick Lamberti, Design Editor

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Imagine this scenario: It’s 2096, and the world is about to end. A group of elite scientists move to Mars in hopes of salvaging humanity. Along with the necessary supplies needed to live on Mars, the scientists brought with them many of the beloved books, movies, artwork, and even historical documents from Earth.

In a couple thousand years, the scientists successfully repopulate humans on Mars. The new humans develop school systems to keep their race alive, and all throughout their lives, they study the important pieces of history they have before them. To save time and money, they have brought multiple copies of original pieces from Earth, so everyone has an opportunity to see things through their own eyes for time to come. Through these copies, they believe they understand what life on Earth was like.  But they are wrong. All of the copies the scientists brought with them, even the classroom textbooks, have been altered, edited, and censored. The humans of Mars have a false perception of what life was really like, and cannot fully understand the hardships and inequalities many people faced, thus dooming history to repeat itself.

Censorship is harmful, especially when it comes to schooling. If we are censoring the content our students have access to, we are robbing them of a complete and accurate learning experience.

Vernacular is the most common effect of history. In my opinion, one of the strongest words to emerge from our world’s history is the n-word.  Because the n-word is slang, not only are many people still using it, but the rules regarding its’ censorship are stricter. The word was first used and established as a derogatory term in the 1800s, when white Americans captured and sold Africans for slavery. The term was used hatefully towards slaves for many decades, until around the 1960s, when the most popular use for the term was to humiliate and degrade black American citizens. While still used hatefully today, black people have reclaimed the n-word to make it their own; today, the n-word is used in many songs, books, movies, shows, and other content created by black people. It is not used to make white people uncomfortable; rather, it is used to remind people that this word is not to be said. This works when content black people produce, usually music, becomes popular, and the majority of the public is able to hear this word and recognize its’ significance.

Regarding the n-word, it is most commonly censored in textbooks and literature a part of a school’s curriculum. The school might do this because they believe the n-word is too sensitive or offensive to expose to students. Retrospectively, this seems like a good idea, but amid the rose-tinted glasses, one can have a better understanding of the true nature of the time period of which the piece was created, thus providing more insight on racial prejudices. Authors like Mark Twain and Harper Lee use slurs like the n-word because “the derogatory capacity of a pejorative word or phrase is best explained by the content it expresses.”

People might agree that the acknowledgement of the n-word is significant, but they also might hypothesize that young students exposed to the n-word might use it carelessly.

Unfortunately, it will be a very long time until most white people agree that the use of the n-word is inappropriate, however, if we start teaching the word’s importance earlier, the chance of students saying it carelessly could decrease. The minority of the student population who continues to use this slur recklessly, even after learning its meaning, actually keep the issue relevant by proving it is still an ongoing problem, consequently allowing other students to continue to stand up for what is right.

Books and vernacular are only one of many numerous subjects our schools are censoring.

When I was a freshman, I signed up for first semester art history. I got to class on the first day, sat down, and was ready to start, when Mosier walked up to me and asked me what grade I was in. After stating I was a freshman, he apologized and told me freshman were not eligible for art history, and that I had to change classes. The next year, when I was finally eligible for the class, I asked him why I could not take it as a freshman. Mosier told me freshman are not allowed in art history due to the nude sculptures shown.

I find it hard to believe anyone would enroll in art history just to snicker at marble breasts. I took the class as a freshman because I was eager to learn about how and why art was created, and I feel if I had took that class a year earlier, I would have been exposed to great ideas earlier, which would have made me a better artist.

The most harmful effect censorship has on us is the distortion of our perceptions of society. This can be done in many ways, but usually, it is through the bias within classroom textbooks. During the library media center’s Banned Book Week last year, a librarian came to talk to my english class and mentioned that almost all of the textbooks in America are biased, and among that, Blue Valley’s textbooks are extremely biased. It made me realize that most of what I have learned throughout school, although not necessarily inaccurate, still fails to provide insights from all sides of the political spectrum, sometimes leaving out important people, quotes, works of art and literature, events, and scandals.

History is a subject present in the majority of American common core standards grades K through 12. History is not just about teaching students about the events of the past, though— it also influences attitudes and how we view the world. For example, in many American textbooks and classrooms, the portrayal of Japan and Japanese people is mainly seen through a military point of view, giving students a bias that in times of war, “defending the country becomes a matter of life and death” (Romanowski) for all Japanese citizens, leading them believe the Japanese who love justice & equality “should not look too closely into wartime violations of human rights that are carried out in the name of “military necessity” or “national security.” (Romanowski).

The bias of classroom censorship is extremely important to the U.S. Government because the politicians leading our country were once the students in classrooms reading inaccurate, biased textbooks. If many students determined to get involved with are taught the wrong information in schools, they cannot go on to correctly lead our country, especially when it comes to many social issues, therefore losing the true purpose of liberty and justice for all

Shortly after John Lennon left The Beatles in 1969 to go solo, he held a small concert where he sang one of his most famous and influential songs, “Imagine.” After a few seconds of guitar, he sings the first line “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try,” and the crowd before him shout with joy and agreement. In this song, Lennon says that if we set aside every bias and prejudice humanity has been taught for so long, and started appreciating life as it is, society would thrive and life could be lived to the fullest. This same concept can be applied to the censorship of media in classrooms; if we open our eyes and realize that censorship is not only harmful and wrong, but also an outdated concept, we can learn history the way we are supposed to learn it — through a raw, unedited, unbiased point of view.

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