Censorship in school: The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship
The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship
Introduction | The First Amendment and Public Schools | Censorship | Student Protest Rights | How Big a Problem is Censorship? | Roles and Responsibilities | Censorship Policies | Resource Guide
A. Understanding Censorship: Censorship is not easy to define. According to Webster’s Dictionary, to “censor” means “to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable.” Its central characteristic is the suppression of an idea or image because it offends or disturbs someone, or because they disagree with it. In many countries, censorship is most often directed at political ideas or criticism of the government. In the United States, censorship more often involves social issues, and in school is commonly directed at so-called “controversial” materials.
Advocates for censorship often target materials that discuss sexuality, religion, race and ethnicity–whether directly or indirectly. For example, some people object to the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in science classes because it conflicts with their own religious views. Others think schools are wrong to allow discussion about sexual orientation in sex education or family life classes, and others would eliminate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the English curriculum because of racial references.
Most pressures for censorship come from parents who disapprove of language or ideas that differ from or affront their personal views and values, but demands can emerge from anywhere across the religious, ideological, and political spectrum. The range of “controversial” topics appears to be limitless: religion, science, history, contemporary and classical literature, art, gender, sexuality, “one-worldism,” health, multiculturalism, and on and on. Many demands appear motivated by anxiety about changing social conditions and traditions. Feminism, removal of prayer from schools, the emergence of the gay rights movement, and other trends with implications for family structure and personal values, have all generated calls for censorship.
Censorship demands require educators to balance First Amendment obligations and principles against other concerns – such as maintaining the integrity of the educational program, meeting state education requirements, respecting the judgments of professional staff, and addressing deeply held beliefs in students and members of the community. Challenging as these circumstances may be, educators are on the strongest ground if they are mindful of two fundamental principles derived from the Supreme Court’s First Amendment decisions: 1) educators enjoy wide latitude in exercising their professional judgment and fulfilling their educational mission if their decisions are based on sound educational and pedagogical principles and serve to enhance the ability of students to learn; and 2) the decisions that are most vulnerable to legal challenge are those that are motivated by hostility to an unpopular, controversial, or disfavored idea, or by the desire to conform to a particular ideological, political or religious viewpoint.
Pursuant to these principles, lower courts generally defer to the professional judgments of educators. As discussed in Fact Sheet #8, this sometimes means that the courts will uphold a decision to remove a book or to discipline a teacher, if it appears to serve legitimate educational objectives, including administrative efficiency. However, administrators and educators who reject demands for censorship are on equally strong or stronger grounds. Most professional educational organizations strongly promote free expression and academic freedom as necessary to the educational process. Access to a wide range of views and the opportunity to discuss and dissent are all essential to education and serve the schools’ legitimate goals to prepare students with different needs and beliefs for adulthood and participation in the democratic process.
It is highly improbable that a school official who relied on these principles and refused to accede to pressures to censor something with educational value would ever be ordered by a court of law to do so.
There are practical and educational as well as legal reasons to adhere as closely as possible to the ideals of the First Amendment. School districts such as Panama City, Florida and Hawkins County, Tennessee have been stunned to find that acceding to demands for removal of a single book escalated to demands for revising entire classroom reading programs. The school district in Island Trees, New York encountered objections to 11 books in its library and curriculum, including Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Black Boy, by Richard Wright, and The Fixer by Bernard Malamud. Other jurisdictions have been pressed to revise the science curriculum, the content of history courses, sex education, drug and alcohol education, and self-esteem programs. Experience has shown far too many times that what appears to be capitulation to a minor adjustment can turn into the opening foray of a major curriculum content battle involving warring factions of parents and politicians, teachers, students and administrators.
B. Distinguishing Censorship from Selection: Teachers, principals, and school administrators make decisions all the time about which books and materials to retain, add or exclude from the curriculum. They are not committing an act of censorship every time they cross a book off a reading list, but if they decide to remove a book because of hostility to the ideas it contains, they could be. As the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and International Reading Association (IRA) note, there is an important distinction between selection based on professional guidelines and censorship: “Whereas the goal of censorship is to remove, eliminate or bar particular materials and methods, the goal of professional guidelines is to provide criteria for selection of materials and methods.”
For example, administrators and faculty might agree to take discussion of evolution out of the second grade curriculum because the students lack sufficient background to understand it, and decide to introduce it in the fourth grade instead. As long as they were not motivated by hostility to the idea of teaching about evolution, this would not ordinarily be deemed censorship. The choice to include the material in the fourth grade curriculum tends to demonstrate this was a pedagogical judgment, not an act of censorship.
Not every situation is that simple. For example, objections to material dealing with sexuality or sexual orientation commonly surface in elementary schools and middle schools when individuals –often parents or religious leaders – demand the material’s removal with the claim that it is not “age appropriate” for those students. On closer examination, it is clear their concern is not that students will not understand the material, but that the objecting adults do not want the students to have access to this type of information at this age. If professional educators can articulate a legitimate pedagogical rationale to maintain such material in the curriculum, it is unlikely that an effort to remove it would be successful.
Of course, hardly anyone admits to “censoring” something. Most people do not consider it censorship when they attempt to rid the school of material that they think is profane or immoral, or when they insist that the materials selected show respect for religion, morality, or parental authority. While parents have considerable rights to direct their own child’s education (see Fact Sheet #9), they have no right to impose their judgments and preferences on other students and their families. School officials who accede to demands to remove materials because of objections to their views or content may be engaging in censorship. Even books or materials that many find “objectionable” may have educational value, and the decision about what to use in the classroom should be based on professional judgments and standards, not individual preferences. Efforts to suppress a disfavored view or controversial ideas are educationally unsound and constitutionally suspect.
The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations. –– Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. at 535 (1925).
C. Consequences of Censorship: What’s so bad about getting rid of materials containing profanity? Many people don’t want their children using that kind of language even if they do it themselves, and many parents believe that seeing profanity in books or hearing others swear encourages youngsters to do the same, especially if the act goes unpunished. Yet profanity appears in many worthwhile books, films and other materials for the same reasons many people use it in their everyday language–for emphasis or to convey emotion. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet says to the players, the purpose of drama is “to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature.”
Works containing profanity often contain realistic portrayals of how an individual might respond in a situation, and some teachers intentionally select such materials to remove the allure from cursing. But even minor use of profanity has not shielded books from attack. Katherine Paterson’s award-winning book Bridge to Terabithia contains only mild profanity, but it has been repeatedly challenged on that ground, as have long-acknowledged classics like Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. Profanity, however, is only one of many grounds on which books are challenged. Almost every classic piece of literature — including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet — has been for some reason, in some place, at some time.
As these examples illustrate, censorship based on individual sensitivities and concerns restricts the world of knowledge available to students. And that world could get smaller and smaller. Based on personal views, some parents wish to eliminate material depicting violence, others object to references to sexuality, others to racially-laden speech or images. Some parents oppose having their children exposed to fiction that doesn’t have a happy ending, teach a moral lesson, or provide noble role models. If these and other individual preferences were legitimate criteria for censoring materials used in school, the curriculum would narrow to including only the least controversial and probably least relevant material. It would hardly address students’ real concerns, satisfy their curiosity, or prepare them for life.
Censorship also harms teachers. By limiting resources and flexibility, censorship hampers a teacher’s ability to explore all possible avenues to motivate and “reach” students. By curtailing ideas that can be discussed in class, censorship takes creativity and vitality out of the art of teaching. Instruction is reduced to bland, formulaic, pre-approved exercises carried out in an environment that discourages the give-and-take that can spark a student’s enthusiasm for learning. To maintain the spontaneous give and take of the classroom setting, teachers need latitude to respond to unanticipated questions and discussion, and the freedom to draw on their professional judgment and expertise, without fear of consequences if someone objects, disagrees, or takes offense.
When we strip teachers of their professional judgment, we forfeit the educational vitality we prize. When we quell controversy for the sake of congeniality, we deprive democracy of its mentors.–– Gregory Hobbs, Jr (dissenting in Board of Education of Jefferson County School District R-1 v. Alfred Wilder)
Censorship chills creativity and in that way impacts everyone. In a volume entitled Places I Never Meant To Be, author Judy Blume, whose books are a common target of censorship efforts, has collected statements of censored writers about the harms of censorship.
According to one frequently censored author, Katherine Paterson:
When our chief goal is not to offend someone, we are not likely to write a book that will deeply affect anyone.
Julius Lester observed:
Censorship is an attitude of mistrust and suspicion that seeks to deprive the human experience of mystery and complexity. But without mystery and complexity, there is no wonder; there is no awe; there is no laughter.
Norma Fox Mazur added:
…where once I went to my writing without a backward glance, now I sometimes have to consciously clear my mind of those shadowy censorious presences. That’s bad for me as a writer, bad for you as a reader. Censorship is crippling, negating, stifling.. It should be unthinkable in a country like ours. Readers deserve to pick their own books. Writers need the freedom of their minds. That’s all we writers have, anyway: our minds and imaginations. To allow the censors even the tiniest space in there with us can only lead to dullness, imitation, and mediocrity.
Censorship represents a tyranny over the mind, said Thomas Jefferson–a view shared by founders of our nation–and is harmful wherever it occurs. Censorship is particularly harmful in the schools because it prevents youngsters with inquiring minds from exploring the world, seeking truth and reason, stretching their intellectual capacities, and becoming critical thinkers. When the classroom environment is chilled, honest exchange of views is replaced by guarded discourse and teachers lose the ability to reach and guide their students effectively.
Book Banning | The First Amendment Encyclopedia
Book banning, the most widespread form of censorship, occurs when private individuals, government officials, or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because they object to their content, ideas, or themes. Those advocating a ban complain typically that the book in question contains graphic violence, expresses disrespect for parents and family, is sexually explicit, exalts evil, lacks literary merit, is unsuitable for a particular age group, or includes offensive language. In this photo, Gail Sheehy, author of “Passages,” at podium, right, reads during the “First Banned Books Read Out” in New York, April 1, 1982. The rally protested censorship by school and public libraries of certain books under pressure from right wing religious groups. (AP Photo/Carlos Rene Perez, used with permission from the Associated Press)
Book banning, a form of censorship, occurs when private individuals, government officials, or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because they object to their content, ideas, or themes. Those advocating a ban complain typically that the book in question contains graphic violence, expresses disrespect for parents and family, is sexually explicit, exalts evil, lacks literary merit, is unsuitable for a particular age group, or includes offensive language.
Book banning is the most widespread form of censorship in the United States
Book banning is the most widespread form of censorship in the United States, with children’s literature being the primary target. Advocates for banning a book or certain books fear that children will be swayed by its contents, which they regard as potentially dangerous. They commonly fear that these publications will present ideas, raise questions, and incite critical inquiry among children that parents, political groups, or religious organizations are not ready to address or that they find inappropriate.
Most challenges and bans prior to the 1970s focused primarily on obscenity and explicit sexuality. Common targets included D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and James Joyce’s Ulysses. In the late 1970s, attacks were launched on ideologies expressed in books.
To counter charges of censorship, opponents of publications sometimes use the tactic of restricting access rather than calling for the physical removal of books. Opponents of bans argue that by restricting information and discouraging freedom of thought, censors undermine one of the primary functions of education: teaching students how to think for themselves. Such actions, assert free speech proponents, endanger tolerance, free expression, and democracy. In this photo, author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., speaks to reporters on a federal court ruling calling for a trial to determine if a Long Island school board can ban a number of books, including his “Slaughterhouse Five,” at New York Civil Liberty offices in 1980. (AP Photo-File, used with permission from the Associated Press)
In September 1990, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression declared the First Amendment to be “in perilous condition across the nation” based on the results of a comprehensive survey on free expression. Even literary classics, including Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, were targeted. Often, the complaints arose from individual parents or school board members. At other times, however, the pressure to censor came from such public interest groups as the Moral Majority.
Censorship — the suppression of ideas and information — can occur at any stage or level of publication, distribution, or institutional control. Some pressure groups claim that the public funding of most schools and libraries makes community censorship of their holdings legitimate.
To counter charges of censorship, opponents of publications sometimes use the tactic of restricting access rather than calling for the physical removal of books. Opponents of bans argue that by restricting information and discouraging freedom of thought, censors undermine one of the primary functions of education: teaching students how to think for themselves. Such actions, assert free speech proponents, endanger tolerance, free expression, and democracy.
Community standards may be taken into account when deciding if materials are subject to censor
Although censorship violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, some limitations are constitutionally permissible. The courts have told public officials at all levels that they may take community standards into account when deciding whether materials are obscene or pornographic and thus subject to censor.
They cannot, however, censor publications by generally accepted authors — such as Mark Twain, for example, J. K. Rowling, R. L. Stine, Judy Blume, or Robert Cormier — in order to placate a small segment of the community. Cormier’s Chocolate War was one of the American Library Association’s Top 10 Banned Books for 2005 and 2006.
Those who oppose book banning emphasize that the First Amendment protects students’ rights to receive and express ideas. The Supreme Court in Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico (1982) ruled 5-4 that public schools can bar books that are “pervasively vulgar” or not right for the curriculum, but they cannot remove books “simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.” The Court’s decision was, however, narrow, applying only to the removal of books from school library shelves. In this photo, Makenzie Hatfield a student at George Washington high school, holds banned books by author Pat Conroy in West Virginia in 2007. The Pat Conroy books “Beach Music” and “The Prince of Tides” were suspended from nearby Nitro High School English classes after parents of two students complained about depictions of violence, suicide and sexual assault. Conroy defended the books in an e-mail reply last month to Hatfield, who teamed with classmates and Nitro students to form a coalition against censorship. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner, used with permission from the Associated Press)
Opponents of book banning emphasize the First Amendment rights of students
Those who oppose book banning emphasize that the First Amendment protects students’ rights to receive and express ideas. The Supreme Court in Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico (1982) ruled 5-4 that public schools can bar books that are “pervasively vulgar” or not right for the curriculum, but they cannot remove books “simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.” The Court’s decision was, however, narrow, applying only to the removal of books from school library shelves.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documents censorship incidents around the country and suggests strategies for dealing with them. Each September, the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, and the National Association of College Stores sponsor Banned Books Week — Celebrating the Freedom to Read.
Designed to “emphasize that imposing information restraints on a free people is far more dangerous than any ideas that may be expressed in that information,” the week highlights banned works, encourages citizens to explore new ideas, and provides a variety of materials to promote free speech events.
The American Library Association publishes the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, which provides information on censorship, as well as an annual annotated list of books and other materials that have been censored.
This article was originally published in 2009. Susan Webb is an Adjunct Librarian at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
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It Comes in a Variety of Forms, Not All Overt on JSTOR
Publicity concerning school censorship too often centers on the clumsy, heavy-handed, and overt efforts of school administrators or other impact parties to control student speech or publications. In this article, the author contends that such obvious and oftentimes inept attempts at controlling student communication represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. He argues that a much more insidious impact emanates from a variety of more subtle forces that are too frequently overlooked or ignored. He contends that an atmosphere genuinely supportive of open student communication rests in adopting a definition of school censorship that recognizes this reality.
The Clearing House is a must-have for middle school and high school teachers and administrators. Focusing on the “how to” aspect of teaching, the journal offers informative and practical articles on teaching techniques, administrative procedures, school programs, and professional development. Theoretical articles, comparative education pieces, and in-depth examinations of major educational issues also appear. Recent topics include the No Child Left Behind Act, homeschooling, classroom management, teacher performance assessment, mentoring, drug sweeps in school, and distance education.
Building on two centuries’ experience, Taylor & Francis has grown rapidlyover the last two decades to become a leading international academic publisher.The Group publishes over 800 journals and over 1,800 new books each year, coveringa wide variety of subject areas and incorporating the journal imprints of Routledge,Carfax, Spon Press, Psychology Press, Martin Dunitz, and Taylor & Francis.Taylor & Francis is fully committed to the publication and dissemination of scholarly information of the highest quality, and today this remains the primary goal.
Censorship – Books – School, Boards, Banning, and Library
U.S. parents send their children to public schools to receive an education and to learn the fundamental values on which their democratic society is based. Conflict ensues when parents believe that certain schoolbooks contain material that is objectionable on political, moral, or religious grounds and should be banned in order to protect their children from exposure to allegedly harmful ideas. In some instances school boards have responded by physically removing books from school library shelves. In general, advocates of book banning maintain that censorship is warranted to redress social ills, whereas critics believe that freedom of speech is more important and useful to society than imposing values through censorship.
Book banning as a way to remedy social problems was first tested by the Supreme Court in Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 102 S. Ct. 2799, 73 L. Ed. 2d 435 (1982). In Pico, parents objected to nine books in the high school library, most of which were subsequently removed by the school board. The nine books were Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.; Naked Ape, by Desmond Morris; Down These Mean Streets, by Piri Thomas; Best Short Stories of Negro Writers, edited by Langston Hughes; Laughing Boy, by Oliver LaFarge; Black Boy, by Richard Wright; A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich, by Alice Childress; Soul on Ice, by ELDRIDGE CLEAVER; and Go Ask Alice, by an anonymous author.
Pico debated the authority of local school boards to censor material in the interest of protecting students. The case reached the Supreme Court because lower courts were unable to devise standards for testing the constitutionality of book removal. The Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for public school boards to abridge students’ First Amendment rights by banning books. Although school boards have the power to determine which books should sit on library shelves, they do not have the authority to censor.
Books published by commercial presses for sale to the general public sometimes meet with harsh condemnation and subsequent action that could be tantamount to censorship. In November 1990, Simon and Schuster canceled its contract with author Bret E. Ellis to publish his novel American Psycho, citing the work’s graphic violence and sexual brutality. The National Writers Union decried the cancellation as contrary to free speech and artistic expression and as censorship. The publishing house defended its editorial judgment by claiming it did not want to put its imprint on a book of questionable taste and value. Vintage Books, a division of Random House, soon acquired the novel, and published it in March 1991.
Forced online by virus, China’s schools run into censorship
BEIJING (AP) — Less than 30 minutes into a lecture on bioinformatics, Chu Xinjian’s class was abruptly cut short.
It was the first day of an unusual semester. Across China, schools have been shut indefinitely to contain the spread of a new virus that has killed more than 3,000 people. Chu’s class was one of tens of thousands of courses, from grade school to university, being forced online.
Chu’s professor was painstakingly sending voice recordings to the class group chat when, without warning, the system disbanded the group for violating China’s Internet regulations — a pervasive, almost mundane part of life under Communist Party rule.
The students were puzzled. Was it the subject matter? Bioinformatics is the science of collecting and analyzing complex biological data. “I’m not sure exactly what phrases triggered it,” said Chu, who recounted the incident. “I guess we touched on some sensitive topic.”
More on the virus outbreak:
Major social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are blocked in China, while homegrown ones such as Weibo and WeChat are heavily monitored and scrubbed for offensive content by the state Cyberspace Administration and police.
Now, the sudden arrival of public education onto platforms that are generally the domain of celebrity livestreamers has thrown the controls into stark relief. Classrooms are confronting the ubiquity and often arbitrary nature of the ruling Communist Party’s online censorship.
Biology courses have been blocked for “pornographic content.” History and politics classes are among the most vulnerable; subjects such as the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward are regularly censored in classes and online discussions.
Daily life in the world’s most populous nation has been radically transformed in the past six weeks. Once-bustling streets are empty, fast-food restaurants offer only takeout service and group activities have been replaced with remote everything — remote work, remote fitness class, remote schooling.
“Classes have stopped but learning will not,” the Education Ministry said in a February notice. It established 24,000 free online courses on 22 web platforms, covering both undergraduate and vocational disciplines.
Yet many lesson plans have been stymied by the country’s strict online regulators.
Louis Wang, a middle school history teacher in northeast China, said his workload has ballooned because of an arduous approval process for online classes.
While teachers have some leeway to facilitate spontaneous discussion in a classroom setting, online classes can be recorded, with the potential for clips to be taken out of context and circulated online.
“Every word that is spoken in a video recording must be pre-approved,” Wang said.
For him, that means writing word-for-word his entire lecture — about 5,000 Chinese characters — for review by school administrators.
Even seemingly non-controversial statements can run afoul of the censors.
Wang said one of his colleagues, a politics teacher, was trying to upload a document for his students with “socialism with Chinese characteristics” in its title. The phrase was championed by former leader Deng Xiaoping and is still frequently used by the government today.
For reasons unexplained, the cloud platform blocked the document. It could be uploaded only after the overtly political phrase was removed.
Teachers are using workarounds to skirt a variety of digital obstacles. On the messaging app WeChat, documents can be rejected for transmission to a group chat if a file fails a “safety inspection.”
The same documents, however, can often be shared in direct messages, so some teachers have resorted to sending files to parents and students one-by-one.
“Teachers having their online classes blocked, that’s funny, because it’s too absurd,” Wang Yuechi, a well-known Chinese comedian wrote on his verified account on Weibo, an app similar to Twitter.
“This is not normal — it’s because there’s no freedom of speech,” he wrote. “Just like how it’s not normal that this post will also be deleted. I hope everyone can be aware of this. The absence of freedom of speech will impact our education, our lives. This has already happened. It’s not so funny now, is it?”
Full Coverage: Virus Outbreak
As Wang predicted, his post can no longer be viewed on Weibo.
Not every online class mishap involves censorship. Sometimes technical difficulties are the culprit.
Cheng Yufan, a university student in the southern province of Jiangsu, inadvertently became the host of a lecture on the first day of online classes last month.
When class was set to start, her philosophy professor was nowhere to be found, Cheng said. The professor was logged onto a different platform; meanwhile, the other one had designated Cheng as group administrator.
Their professor fared no better on the second platform. Internet connection issues resulted in Cheng and her classmates tuning into two hours of silence.
Afterwards, the unwitting professor wrote in their class group chat, “See you next time!”
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
How to Handle Cries for Censorship
Challenges to school materials are a common occurrence. How should such challenges be handled? How can they be avoided?
What books should be taught in schools? It sounds like a simple question but the answer can be complex.
Challenges to curriculum content have torn apart communities. On the one hand, advocates of banning certain books maintain that children in grades K-12 will be harmed if we don’t protect them from inappropriate materials. Opponents are equally heated in insisting that censorship of books and other curriculum materials violates the academic freedom and diversity of thought protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Among the classic works of literature banned from schools over the years have been Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. An American Civil Liberties Union report lists among the most frequently banned or challenged books of 1997 R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.
A report by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) found that challenges of school materials are common throughout the United States. Those challenges frequently work; nearly one-third result in materials being withdrawn from schools or their use curtailed.
During Banned Books Week, people are exhorted to fight against banning and censorship. Yet do opponents of banning books believe that any book is appropriate for teaching in school? And where should the line be drawn between books that are appropriate and inappropriate? A number of experts have explored these and related questions of censorship.
Censorship is “the removal, suppression, or restricted circulation of literary, artistic or educational materials … on the grounds that these are morally or otherwise objectionable in light of the standards applied by the censor,” writes Henry Reichman in Censorship and Selection, Issues and Answers for Schools. According to definitions like this, observers point out, many decisions made by school boards about what can be taught in schools might be seen as acts of censorship.
Challenges to materials in school curricula, according to Censorship of Curriculum Materials, by JeanMarie Aurnague-DeSpain and Alan Bass, generally arise in the following areas:
- sex and drug education
- literature showing children challenging parents and authorities
- teaching evolution without reference to creationism
- showing women behaving in nontraditional ways
- “invasions of privacy” — projects requiring students to share personal information.
Supreme Court cases that deal with censorship issues show a broad trend toward supporting the schools, but they also caution educators to remain aware of values, including minority values, in the communities they serve. Experts have cited the First Amendment of the Constitution as protecting both students’ rights to know and teachers’ rights to academic freedom. At the same time, legal experts argue, parents have the right to protest books or materials that they consider damaging to their children.
In a landmark censorship case, Island Trees Union Free High School v. Pico (1982), the Court asserted that the “Constitution does not permit the official suppression of ideas,” and the banned books were returned to school shelves. In this and other cases, the Court seems to allow school boards a rather free hand with curriculum materials.
In the Pico case, Justice Brennan’s plurality opinion stated that a basis for resolving censorship conflicts over school materials could rest upon the use of “establishedunbiased procedures for the review of controversial materials” at the local level.
To avoid controversy, school boards need clearly stated policies delineating how materials are selected. Selection policies should weigh the viewpoints of various groups in the community and be implemented by professionals. Those developing selection policies must consider community and parental concerns and demonstrate acceptance of our national diversity, asserts Reichman. If selection policy ignores minority rights, censorship issues may arise. And school materials should not be selected for partisan political reasons.
To develop a community consensus and prevent cries for censorship, Larry Mikulecky (see Resources) recommends several strategies:
- Ask parents to contribute to developing school reading programs.
- Give recommended, rather than required, reading lists.
- Have files of professional reviews that support materials.
- In collective bargaining agreements, negotiate clauses that protect academic freedom and call for agreed-on selection processes.
- Discourage the concept that only one text can be used to teach a specific theme.
When controversy flares up despite efforts to avoid it, there are ways of handling it to minimize damage. In “Censorship of Curriculum Materials,” JeanMarie Aurnague-DeSpain and Alan Baas say, “good internal communications and public relations offer the best way to avoid unnecessary controversy.”
Several experts recommend the following process, says “Censorship of Curriculum Materials”:
- Meet with the complainant and attempt to resolve the issue.
- If that fails, request a written complaint detailing the questionable material, the bad effect it is thought to have on students, and what replacement materials are suggested.
- Give the complainant a copy of published district policies for controversial materials and explain the procedure to be followed.
- Have a review committee provide the school board with a final report.
- Inform the complainant of the review process and when committee meetings are slated.
- Provide an appeals process.
- While the complaint is being explored, keep the controversial material available, except possibly to the student whose family has filed a challenge.
School boards are legally responsible for what is taught in a district, according to U.S. courts in general. The board delegates power to school officials and so is held responsible for school policies.
In summary, the NSBA report states that “the challenge is not to avoid censorship, but to meet it head on with adequate policies and procedures that provide an open forum for deciding what should — or should not — take place in public schools.”
Article by Sharon Cromwell
Copyright © 2005 Education World
- Censorship: Managing the Controversy by Linda Chion-Kenney; National School Boards Association, Alexandria, Va. (1989). 88 pages.
- The International Reading Association’s Role in the Politics of Censorship by Larry Mikulecky; paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Reading Association, New Orleans, La., April 27-May 1, 1981.
- Censorship and Selection, Issues and Answers for Schools by Henry Reichman; American Association of School Administrators, Alexandria, Va., and American Library Association, Chicago (1988). 141 pages.
- Censorship Post-Pico by John David Terry II; in School Law Update by Thomas N. Jones and Darel P. Semler, eds., National Organization on Legal Problems, Topeka, Kan. (1986).
High School Ripped News Pages Out Of A Yearbook By Student Journalists : NPR
Students say they triple-checked the 2020-2021 timeline and got an OK on the spread before it was published in the Bigelow High School yearbook.
Courtesy of the Student Press Law Center
Courtesy of the Student Press Law Center
Students say they triple-checked the 2020-2021 timeline and got an OK on the spread before it was published in the Bigelow High School yearbook.
Courtesy of the Student Press Law Center
The theme of Bigelow High School’s 2020-21 yearbook was The Roaring 20s. But it appears officials at the Arkansas school wanted the student record of the events of the tumultuous year to be a little less of a roar and more of a meow.
Before delivering the keepsakes to students earlier this month, school administrators ripped out a two-page spread depicting a timeline of events from the academic year. Among the high/lowlights included were the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, former President Donald Trump’s claims of a rigged election, the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is unclear who was behind the decision to excise the pages from the student-designed yearbook, but East End School District Superintendent Heidi Wilson justified the move by citing “community backlash.”
Wilson did not reply to NPR’s requests for comment.
Some students and parents say it’s censorship.
Madison Johnston was in the class that produced the yearbook and was disappointed when she began to hear from other students about the changes after “a group of parents had complained about it being biased.”
The class had been diligent in its reporting, triple-checking the spread and getting it OK’d before it was printed, she told Fox 16.
“They’re censoring something that is facts,” Johnston said.
The Student Press Law Center, a national organization that advocates for the press freedom rights of high school and college journalists, is calling on the superintendent to reprint and distribute the pages that were torn out. In a letter to Wilson, SPLC Executive Director Hadar Harris urged the superintendent to apologize to students, parents and the yearbook staff adviser who resigned following the controversy.
“We are very concerned about ensuring that they’re taking seriously the issue at hand in terms of what they did,” Harris told NPR.
“They ripped the pages out of the yearbook for no clear pedagogical purpose and on the basis of what they said was a community backlash. We don’t see any evidence of that community backlash,” she said, noting that Wilson has not responded to SPLC’s requests.
A freedom of information records request by the Arkansas Times for any evidence related to the so-called community backlash has gone nowhere, according to the newspaper.
“When asked if there were any emails, or perhaps a public meeting where people shared their opposition to the timeline, Wilson simply answered ‘no’ in an email and did not respond to further inquiries,” the paper reported earlier this week.
In an interview with the Arkansas Press Association Publisher Weekly, Megan Clark Walton, who is the former yearbook adviser and also a former journalist, said she feels “burned a bit” by what happened at Bigelow High School.
No one has apologized to her “because district officials don’t believe they did anything wrong,” according to the outlet.
Reflecting on her time as the yearbook adviser and a journalism teacher at the school in central Arkansas, Walton said, “It was my favorite course to teach, and I was able to open kids’ eyes to the world around them. Bigelow is such a tiny, tiny community, and journalism taught them how to look at the world objectively, which I don’t think they get a lot of time at home.”
90,000 Censorship at school: who saw the enemies of the Motherland in teachers?
Russian teachers may be deprived of the right to express their own opinions in the classroom due to another legislative initiative.
Senator from the United Russia faction Andrei Klimov suggested dismissing teachers if they voice a position that contradicts the current Constitution of the Russian Federation. The senator did not specify how the saboteur teachers will be identified.
Experts fear that with the introduction of such a norm, “Pavlik Morozovs” will appear in schools, who will help school principals in the fight against unwanted teachers.
At the beginning of 2020, about 1.5 million teachers worked in Russian schools. The shortage of teachers was about 150 thousand people, or 10%. According to Interfax, a third of school teachers are retirees. Young people are not eager to work in the education system. Teachers’ salaries are low, children are uncontrollable, and teachers have been imposed “too many restrictions”.
Many people are still discussing the swimsuit scandal that undermined the credibility of schools.In March 2019, a teacher from Barnaul was fired for a photo in a bikini. After this scandal, the teachers staged an all-Russian flash mob. Photos of teachers in swimsuits flooded the Internet. The authorities resisted for a long time, but in the end they compromised. Now teachers can be photographed in swimsuits. This is their privacy, which is guaranteed to school employees under the Constitution. This is spelled out in the new edition of the Model Code of Ethics for Teachers.
It would seem that the fires of the teachers’ inquisition are extinguished, there is no reason for panic, as gray clouds again hung over Russian schools.In mid-November it became known that the Commission of the Federation Council for the Protection of State Sovereignty from External Interference intends to submit to the State Duma a bill that would establish a rigid framework for teachers.
“[It is proposed] to provide for the possibility of dismissing a teacher if he uses educational or educational activities to incite social, racial or religious hatred, as well as induce other actions that contradict the Constitution,” TASS quotes the head of the commission, a senator from Permsky region and Deputy Secretary of the General Council of “United Russia” Andrei Klimov.
In an interview with ForPost, a member of the State Duma Committee on Education and Science Aldar Damdinov tried to explain what the senator had in mind when announcing the draft law that was being prepared.
“My colleague-senator, most likely, talked about the need to conduct training for teachers so that they do not unknowingly go into discussion of some topics. These conversations should be conducted in a professional environment. I do not think that any legislative initiatives are needed on this issue, there is no need to prescribe what should be said to teachers and what should not, ”Damdinov expressed his opinion.
The State Duma deputy stressed that there is an educational standard in Russia that teachers do not go beyond. Now the deputies are “doing a great job” to improve it. Therefore, teachers need to be trusted, and not to mold them into an image of an enemy of the people.
“No need to hit the head with a butt. You shouldn’t do this now, ”the State Duma deputy emphasized.
See also: The school asked not to throw late children over the fence
The trade union is shocked
The teaching community is categorically against such legislative initiatives.There is a shortage of personnel in schools. If teachers “without trial and investigation” begin to be fired for questionable content in the classroom, there will simply be no one to teach children.
The norm prohibiting a teacher from conducting political campaigning in the classroom already exists in Russian legislation. We are talking about the article “Duties and Responsibilities of Teachers” of the Law “On Education of the Russian Federation”. If a teacher is noticed in political agitation or inciting racial, social hatred, he will face disciplinary action.
Also in the law “On Education” the teacher has the right to express his or her opinion. In addition, the teacher has the right to freedom of teaching, to freedom from interference in professional activities.
“Nobody understands where the line is between campaigning and expressing one’s own opinion. This is a very thin line, ”Marina Bulaeva, co-chair of the Interregional Trade Union of Educational Workers“ Teacher ”, expressed her opinion in an interview with the correspondent ForPost .
She stressed that in the modern history of Russian education, no one has yet punished teachers for calls to live outside the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The norms prescribed in the Law “On Education” cannot be used to settle personal accounts. Therefore, Bulaeva is sure, no precedents have yet been created.
“As soon as there is an article in the law that will allow dismissing unwanted teachers for questionable content in the classroom, we will see who, how and how will control and execute all this,” Bulaeva emphasized.
See also: Kovid academic year: schoolchildren will be “turned” into a submarine crew
It will not be easy for a teacher to prove his innocence. Lawyers are sure that “incentives to take other actions contrary to the Constitution” is a very delicate issue. There is a risk that the judge will not be able to discern the teacher’s innocence in the evidence presented.
“Iron standards have not yet appeared in the judicial system, on the basis of which a judge can believe something and not believe something.So far, no such mechanism has been invented, using which, the judge could understand which evidence suits him and which does not. There is indisputable evidence, doubtful evidence. There is also direct evidence to which the video footage relates. There is circumstantial evidence, when everything in the court is reproduced from someone’s words. Therefore, this issue is very difficult, “- said in an interview with a correspondent ForPost ex-Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Candidate of Legal Sciences Vladimir Radchenko.
Some experts note that the draft law, which is being developed in the Federation Council, duplicates the norms prescribed in the Criminal and Administrative Codes of the Russian Federation. The current legislation already provides for liability for people who are trying to incite social, religious or racial hatred. Therefore, you should not fence a legal garden around schools, says Sergey Pestov, head of the Center for Rescuing Children from Cybercrimes.
In an interview with ForPost correspondent, he emphasized that teachers are people with higher education, they understand the laws, know their rights and responsibilities.They work according to the school’s charter, which clearly states that employees of educational institutions must comply with current legislation.
“Someone just wants to create an imitation of hectic activity. Everything has long been spelled out in current laws. You don’t need to take anything extra. If this rule of law is adopted, then the Russian education system will follow the path of Pavlik Morozov. There will be people who will inform on unloved teachers, and thus the system will get rid of them, which is extremely undesirable, ”Pestov noted.
See also: Masks, certificates and the second shift: how the coronavirus turned out for Sevastopol schools
Almost like under Stalin
Well-known Russian journalist Alexey Pivovarov also studied the proposals of Senator Andrei Klimov. He reminded the author of the dubious legislative initiative that in the Soviet years there was Article 58 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, which established responsibility for counter-revolutionary activities.
It was “so all-embracing” that the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn compared it with the Holy Scriptures.The famous 58th article took into account all the crimes that a Soviet citizen could commit: from sabotage, anti-Soviet agitation to communication with the bourgeoisie.
“It also contained the following formulation:” Counterrevolutionary is an action that contains an attempt on the foundations of the conquest of the proletarian revolution. ” What specific action is not important. The main thing is that it contains an “attempt at conquest.” The Federation Council with his dismissal “for prompting”, it seems to me, is not far gone “, – Pivovarov expressed his opinion on YouTube -channel” Editorial “.
The journalist reminded the senators about Russian grammar, in which there is an incentive mood. It includes such verbs as “go”, “listen”, “act”. Pivovarov suggested to the senators, just in case, “to prohibit the incentive mood” or to establish a narrow circle that has the right to it.
The journalist believes that the rest of the Russians should be obliged to use only the conditional mood, which includes such verbs as “would go”, “would listen”, “would act”.This must be done so that in the country “no one tilts anyone at random,” including the status of deputies and senators.
As for the teachers themselves, they still have no time to think about initiatives from above. To deal with current affairs.
Elena Streltsova, a teacher from Yekaterinburg, emphasized that now “everyone is panicking” because of the postponement of the final essay for 11th grade graduates, which was to be held on December 2, 2020. If you fail to pass the essay, you will not be admitted to the exam.
In a conversation with a ForPost correspondent, Streltsova suggested solving problems as they come.She advised lawmakers to help teachers solve existing problems, rather than create them out of the blue. Now is the time not for dubious legislative initiatives, but for making specific decisions.
See also: Schools under the knife: will the coronavirus stop the optimization of educational institutions
Law on Education or censorship of public education
Three readings in the State Duma passed amendments to the law “On Education in the Russian Federation”.The changes were dubbed the “Law on educational activities”. In terms of its volume, the edits take about two pages in A4 format, however, in terms of its content, the document forces you to talk a lot, for a long time, interspersed with anger and sadness. At the same time, some who read the document ( or, conversely, unread ) developed a completely false and too tyrannical idea of the edits. Let’s figure out where the oxygen was cut off, and where else you can breathe calmly.
Briefly about what the changes are changing:
The law (we will call it this way) will come into force on June 1, 2021 (if passed in the Federation Council and signed by the President of the Russian Federation).He introduces the definition of “educational activities”.
Violating logical laws, the definition repeats the term, that is, it looks like this: educational activity, according to legislators, is an activity ( but in the Duma they like to do this often, so let’s say “in the best traditions” ). Further, educational activities include everything imaginable and inconceivable that is not associated with programs accredited in educational institutions, namely: ) professional development of a person, satisfaction of his educational needs and interests .
I would also very much like to note the wording that elevates the Constitution to the limits of perfection. So, “no inducement to actions contrary to the Constitution of the Russian Federation is allowed.” And this means that the teacher must know all the provisions of the Constitution and not allow the thought that there may be changes in it, and if such changes ever happen, then he must know that now the Constitution has only become better.
That is, educational activities are any activities aimed at transferring knowledge.The law states that educational activities can be carried out by both a legal entity and an individual, as well as an individual entrepreneur. This means that in any organizational and legal form, wanting to engage in education, you are subject to regulation under the new rules.
Let’s say you introduced a definition, but what does it change?
The point is that a person (legal, physical, individual entrepreneur) can begin to educate in an educational organization only if the “education” program is agreed with the federal executive authorities (, probably, it will be Rosobrazovanie ), that is, first the approval of the authorities, then an agreement with an educational organization, and only then the teaching itself.
If an official in a state body does not like the content of the presented program, then you will not be able to implement it, since the educational organization simply will not sign the contract.
And now about the troubles themselves
The Enlightenment is essentially a whole cultural, ideological and philosophical movement of social thought. It is enlightenment that underlies the evolutionary development of society: from the dark Middle Ages to the whole era of the Enlightenment, from feudalism to capitalism, and so on.
Kant in the article “What is enlightenment?” gave a good answer, pointing out that enlightenment is a person’s way out of his minority. Further, he demanded only one thing for enlightenment – freedom, and gave examples of how this freedom is being stifled. Look, what a familiar scenario (!): The officer says – “ do not reason, but exercise “, the adviser to the Ministry of Finance – “ do not reason, but pay “.
The deputies of the Russian Federation unanimously declared to the society: “ agree on what you want to talk about ”.
There are a lot of questions on the Internet, people worry in advance: “What exactly will I need to agree on?”, “How will I lecture?”, “But what about my educational online courses?”.
Indeed, the law introduces the concept of educational activities and wants / tries to regulate it, but in fact only those programs that will be “tied” to the educational organization are subject to regulation. That is, the agreement will fall on the head of those who want to conduct an elective at school or university, those who wish to read the author’s lecture at the alma mater, those who want to provide an online course on the basis of educational organizations.It is possible that approval awaits those who want to publish a textbook that is not “mandatory”, not recommended by government agencies for the educational program, but independent and based on their own long scientific research, and such a textbook is planned to be in some school library.
There is no clear norm in the law specifying that any teaching activity will be coordinated with the executive authorities. That is, on independent sites, the author remains independent in his performance.At the same time, we will immediately make a reservation, this does not mean that the norms of administrative, criminal responsibility for inciting national, racial or religious hatred and enmity, as well as other information, for the dissemination of which legal liability is provided, do not apply to him.
The Law contains an indication that the Government will establish the procedure, conditions and forms of conducting educational activities. Most likely, the Government at the level of the Ministry of Education will propose a certain form according to which a lecturer wishing to speak on the basis of an educational organization under a contract will censor his program, and, of course, will approve the procedure for “monitoring” a potential lecturer.Someone from the authorities will be able to attend a lecture at an educational institution and correlate what was said with the approved plan before concluding a contract.
Questions without an obvious answer
The legislator, from overflowing good intentions to teach people beautiful things and get rid of all kinds of troubles, completely forgot to explain by what norm of the law those who simply did not agree on their program, but spoke out? And even more interesting, what would be considered incitement to racial or religious hatred?
After all, the trial of Yulia Tsvetkova shows that the rich imagination of officials and representatives of the judiciary allows one to see blasphemous pornography in the female genital organ… That is why, for sure, now in educational institutions lectures with the names “Ku-Klux-Klan” or the relationship between “holy war” and “crusades” will be something almost taboo. Daredevils who wish to talk on topics with an ambiguous historical background, philosophers who consider the annexation of Crimea to be an injustice, are evicted to the territory of dissidents – that is, somewhere outside schools and universities.
There is no place for dissent in educational organizations
Everyone has long understood that in schools and educational institutions, especially in the subjects of the most “controversial” sciences like philosophy or history, the leader – that is, the teacher, the person is far from free (probably , this sometimes makes children bored) .The teacher is a representative of a state institution and launches into the masses an idea that is obligatory for presentation, that is, programmatic. An alternative to obtaining “unverified” knowledge, devoid of any ideology, was optional teaching, where the basis is precisely the reasoning between the audience and the teacher. Reasoning is born insofar as the teacher is limited only by his own thought, and the students find themselves not in a regulated flow, but in free swimming. When such lessons or lectures happened, the teacher could know that he is now breathing free air, and his listeners are really free, since no one is supervising what he has heard, no one will then require them to answer with the words of the lecturer.The free sea is now closed. It is desirable and assumed that everything uttered by the lecturer on the basis of educational institutions of our country is a previously verified scenario, behind which is someone’s bureaucratic “agreed”.
The root of evil is in the clear focus on the school and student environment. So the edits are once again aimed at ensuring that only information filtered by the cabinet servants goes into the ears of the younger generation.
The legislator clearly changes the thought once said by Montesquieu: “one should not achieve by laws what can be achieved by improving morals” …
90,000 Computer games may be censored due to shooting in a Moscow school
The Presidential Council for Human Rights (HRC) has started a discussion of computer games – “shooters”.The result of the discussion may be a legislative ban on shooter games. Kirill Kabanov, member of the HRC and head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, initiated the discussion. In his opinion, the shooting of a schoolchild – a teenager in an educational institution of the capital, which led to the death of two people – is nothing more than the result of the detrimental effect of shooters on the adolescent psyche.
How soon shooters can be banned and whether this will lead to the emergence of a black market for shooters – MK learned about this from the initiator of the discussion, Kirill Kabanov.
– Are you in favor of an outright ban, or is it for a discussion on this topic?
– An assessment should be made to determine whether there is a causal relationship between games and actual aggression. I am not making a speech about banning everything at once. But all the controversy that I had in social networks with gamers after I promised to raise this issue at the HRC showed that even they do not completely deny this connection. We decided to get together with them and the forensic psychologists to talk in more detail.
There are already restrictions on the pictures of violence in shooters, they just are not being met. Games are a booming business, technical capabilities are growing and dependence on Shooter becomes stronger as they add quality and realism.
A young man takes 2 guns, a knife, cold-bloodedly fires a shot in the head … This is the paraphernalia and demeanor in an ordinary “shooter”. He may not even be aware of the fact that he is not in the game…
And it is possible that the game does not erase the sensation of reality (the psyche is different for everyone), but it still destroys a certain inner brake: the feeling that it is impossible to do this.
Let us add that we have a very low level of computer education and culture. In the United States, by the way, there is a whole social program for parents whose children are passionate about gaming. They have already come to the conclusion that giving up, for example, cigarettes is much easier than playing games. Parents are not required to harshly drive children away from monitors, but they educate them: what games should not be given, what consequences this can lead to.
– All the boys of the USSR, in the era before the advent of computer games, played “war” and watched films about the war. This is the same as “shooters” …
– In the cinema you are an observer, in the “war” wooden machine guns or (more often) did not shoot sticks. That is, the boy either looked at the screen or aimed with a stick. There was no combination and reproduction of the actual child’s triggering and the blood and groans that followed.
Returning to America (we will add Israel, which is constantly at war): when training special forces soldiers for psychological training, almost ordinary “shooters” are used, but details of death and suffering are especially carefully drawn.So that the soldier then does not have a shock when he starts killing in reality. These games are not available to ordinary users, they are prohibited.
And more. In a “shooter”, even if it is a team game, the player still feels that he is alone against everyone, and the whole world is against him.
The teenager who shot at school (and his classmates have already said that he was fond of games), acted according to the same model.
– Everything that is prohibited by the state goes from the legal market to the black market.They will play all the same, only the schemes for buying these games will become criminal, a niche for the next mafia will appear …
– Well, first of all, the legal markets are still larger in volume. If the drug market were legal, we would have a much larger army of drug addicts.
But we are not yet talking about a total ban on games. We will gather 700 gamers, listen to the specialists of the Institute. Serbian, and let’s try to figure out how to reduce the risks. I’m not going to ban all games, I’m not an idiot.But let’s, together with the community of users and manufacturers, try to make them safer for the psyche of children and adolescents.
– Will we develop a model of the game that would not develop aggression?
– Exactly. On Wednesday, we will summarize the discussion at the HRC, prepare invitations for the participants in the discussion. We will try to get started and come to some first conclusions next week, then we will invite colleagues from the State Duma and law enforcement agencies. I think that an option will be found with a minimum of direct bans and a maximum of a positive effect from the correct editing of these games.
Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 26447 dated February 6, 2014
Internet killings will be “under the hood”
90,000 Nazi propaganda and censorship | Holocaust Encyclopedia
Nazi Propaganda and Censorship After the end of democracy in Germany and the establishment of a one-party dictatorship, the Nazis launched a massive propaganda campaign to win the people’s trust and subjugate them to their will.The Nazi Propaganda Ministry, headed by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, took control of all media in Germany – newspapers, magazines, books, as well as public meetings, gatherings, painting, music, film and radio. Any dissent that contradicted Nazi ideas or threatened the regime itself was censored and destroyed in all sources.
During the spring of 1933, Nazi student organizations, professors and librarians compiled long lists of books that were dangerous to the German population.On the night of May 10, 1933, the Nazis raided libraries and bookstores throughout Germany. They walked the night streets by torchlight, singing songs and burning books in huge bonfires. More than 25,000 books were burned that night. Among them were the works of Jewish writers including Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. Most of the books were written by non-Jewish authors, including the famous American writers Jack London, Ernest Hemingway and Sinclair Lewis, whose ideas the Nazis saw as a threat to their ideology and therefore banned them.
Nazi censors also burned books by Helen Keller, a writer who achieved fame despite her deafness and blindness; upon learning of the book burnings, she said that “tyranny cannot overcome the power of ideas.” Hundreds of thousands of Americans rallied in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis to protest a clear violation of free speech such as book burning.
Schools played an important role in the spread of Nazi ideas. The censors removed some books from schools and replaced them with new ones that taught loyalty to the party, love for Hitler, and anti-Semitism.At extracurricular meetings of the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls, children were taught loyalty to the Nazi Party. In schools and beyond, young people celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday and the anniversary of his rise to power.
DECEMBER 5, 1930
JOSEF GEBBELS DISRUPTS THE FILM PREMIERE
In Berlin, Joseph Goebbels, one of Adolf Hitler’s high-ranking aides, and stormtroopers (SA) disrupt the premiere of the film “On the Maritime Front, No Changes of the Same Name” …The Nazis throw smoke bombs and sneeze powder to stop the movie. Spectators protesting against the disruption of the premiere are beaten. The novel was always unpopular among the Nazis, who saw the portrayal of the brutality and absurdity of war as a manifestation of “anti-German” sentiment. The film is ultimately banned. In 1931, Remarque emigrated to Switzerland, and the Nazis, having come to power in 1938, deprived him of his German citizenship.
13 MARCH 1933
JOSEF GEBBELS HEADS MINISTRY OF PROPAGANDA REICH
Joseph Goebbels, one of Adolf Hitler’s most trusted associates, has been appointed head of the Reich Ministry of Education and Propaganda.This agency censors all literary and media work (newspapers, radio and cinema), as well as public entertainment and cultural programs (theater, art and music). Goebbels instills Nazi racist ideology in the media.
MAY 10, 1933
JOSEF GEBBELS GIVES A SPEECH WHILE BURNING BOOKS IN BERLIN
Forty thousand people attend the speech of German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Opera Square in Berlin.Goebbels condemns works written by Jews, liberals, “leftists”, pacifists, foreigners and others, calling them “anti-German.” Nazi students burn books. Banned books are being removed from all libraries in Germany. Goebbels proclaims the “purification of the Germanic spirit.”
90,000 VTsIOM. News: Social Media and Censorship: Pros and Cons of
March 16, 2021 Below is a survey of social media censorship and Russians’ attitudes toward it.
Most Russians use various social networks and instant messengers: WhatsApp (70%, more often at the age of 25-44 – 77%), VKontakte (50%, more often young people 18-25 years old – 72-74%), watch YouTube ( 40%, among 18-24 years old – 56%), go to Instagram (38%) and Odnoklassniki (37%).
Inaccurate information on social networks
Half of Russians believe that it is always or almost always possible to distinguish inaccurate information on the Internet.This is more often seen by young people aged 18-24 (78%), as well as 25-34-year-old Russians (62%).
Half of our compatriots are of the opinion that it is necessary to block any inaccurate information on the Internet (51%). This opinion is supported mainly by those who use the Internet occasionally or do not use it at all – 65%. A quarter believe that it is necessary to block only that unreliable information that poses a serious threat (23%), and another 14% are of the opinion that even potentially harmful information should be blocked.
Almost half of our compatriots found it difficult to assess the actions of the state to control the reliability of information on the Internet (48%). They are approved by 29% of the respondents, disapproved by 19%, and more often by active Internet users (24%).
Blocking accounts in social networks
Russians consider it unacceptable to block users’ accounts or personal pages on social networks before a court ruling (51%), residents of capitals (61%) and million-plus cities (58%) respond more often.38% of the respondents called it acceptable.
The fact that social networks Facebook and Twitter block and delete social networks of some Russian organizations and users is known or heard by 70% of Russians, more often men (75%). They named some famous people whose accounts have recently been blocked by Twitter or Facebook, the most frequent answers: D. Trump (11%), A. Navalny (3%) and V. Soloviev (3%).
Among the reasons for the removal of publications or pages of Russian users or organizations, Russians informed about these cases cite the dissemination of inaccurate, false information (9%), political reasons (9%), or the inconvenience of this information (6%).
More than half of Russians consider such blocking to be permissible when publishing provocative or inaccurate messages (52%), more often this opinion is expressed by active Internet users (56%).
Should we consider it censorship and how to deal with it?
Such blockings can be considered censorship by social networks, according to 49% of respondents. This is more common among Russians aged 45-59 (56%). 29% of Russians do not consider this to be censorship, more often young people 18-24 years old (57%).
The Russian state needs to do something to combat censorship, according to 70% of those who consider it censorship. This is more often the opinion of those surveyed over the age of 60 (78%). Nothing needs to be done, according to 26% of respondents.
Those who believe that something needs to be done offer the following types of reactions: block accounts in response (8%), introduce fines (6%), block sites (6%), slow down their work (5%), create own analogues (4%).
90,000 “Cancellation culture”.How words became weapons in the debate about values, “righteous anger” and censorship
- Anthony Zurker
- BBC, Washington
Photo Credit, BBC / Getty Images
President USA expelled from social networks. A well-known science correspondent resigns in disgrace throughout the country, repeating a racist word after someone. Famous American names are disappearing from school facades throughout the district. Congressman punished for spreading conspiracy theories.
All of these events are cited as manifestations of the so-called “cancel culture” or “cancel culture”. The idea of a culture of exclusion suggests that zealous, largely left-wing activists try to suppress unwanted free expression by constantly ostracing people who they believe have “crossed the line” and gone too far in their statements.
Recently, Donald Trump’s legal team described his impeachment process as a “constitutional culture of exclusion.”Disney, meanwhile, has severed ties with actress Gina Carano, who plays the popular character in the Star Wars-based series The Mandalorian. It is believed that the reason for the gap was her impartial posts on social networks about wearing masks and the US elections.
The national media on both sides of the culture of exclusion debate do not seem to lack new sources of righteous anger.
The consequences of “cancellation” include the loss of friends and social connections, being fired from jobs, lost business opportunities, and the loss of platforms to spread their views, sometimes really provocative ones.
Sometimes the focus is on the public figure; sometimes – a private person, whose actions were recorded and ended up on the vastness of social networks. In both cases, the reaction can be ruthless – the culture of exclusion often does not distinguish between the private and the public.
“This term is very chaotically applied to incidents both on and off the Internet, ranging from the actions of some ‘avengers’ to heated debates and campaigns of intimidation and harassment, – writes Ligaya Mishan (subscription required) in the New York Times …- Those who accept at least the idea (or even its practical implementation) of “cancellation” want more than just an apology and admission of mistakes. Although it is not always clear whether this is about fixing a specific mistake or a more serious imbalance of power. “
Let’s take a closer look.
Expulsion of Trump from Twitter
the most powerful people in the world
On January 9, the social network Twitter permanently blocked Donald Trump’s account – just three days after the president gave a speech to supporters who soon stormed the Capitol.
Calling the move “the right decision,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also acknowledged that it could backfire on citizens’ right to express themselves freely.
Photo author, Pool / Getty Images
Twitter head Jack Dorsey defended the decision to block Donald Trump’s account
“Such measures lead to a fragmentation of the discussion in society,” he wrote in a series of tweets. They limit the ability to explain, apologize, teach.And they create what I believe is a dangerous precedent: the power of an individual or a corporation over part of the global dialogue in society. “
A violent reaction from Trump supporters followed immediately. Trump adviser Jason Miller said that tech giants tried to” undo “74 million Americans who voted for Trump in 2020.
If the president of the United States can be ousted from Twitter, his supporters argued, what are the chances of ordinary people?
What the author of the New York Times wanted to say? “Cancellations” as an attempt by liberal media to harm prominent Republicans, in particular Trump, are not only coming under fire from politicians – and not only conservatives.
New York Times reporter Donald McNeill worked for the newspaper for 44 years. In 2020, he rose to prominence as an expert on the global spread of Covid-19. In mid-February, the journalist announced that he was resigning because of his “extremely bad comments.”
During a trip to Peru in 2019, he repeated a common racist term in conversation with teenage students when discussing whether a 12-year-old should be expelled from school for using that very word, he said.”At first I thought that the context in which I used this ugly word could be considered an excuse,” he wrote. “Now I understand that this is impossible. It is deeply offensive and painful.”
New York Times executive editor Dean Bake initially intended to confine himself to an internal investigation of the incident.
However, parents of other students on that trip claimed McNeill made other similar racist statements. Employees of the publication wrote a letter calling for McNeill to be fired.As a result, the editor welcomed the resignation and said that the newspaper would not tolerate racist statements “regardless of intention”.
Photo by AFP via Getty Images
After that, writer Glenn Greenwald pounced on what he called the “intent doesn’t matter” paradigm for forbidden words.
“The basic rule of liberal media circles and liberal politics is that they have the right to accuse anyone who deviates from liberal orthodoxy for whatever form of fanaticism they want – whatever comes to their mind,” he wrote.“Just call them racists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes, et cetera, without the slightest need for proof, and it’s completely acceptable.”
As is often the case with scandals like this, the story goes deeper than early reports suggest. the story is by no means black and white, it features real people, with all their complex combination of real weaknesses and advantages.
For Greenwald, for example, the New York Times conflict is simply new evidence of two sets of standards: for people who make controversial statements and for those who press charges against them.
Marjorie Taylor Green on a slippery slope
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green has been accused of spreading conspiracy theories about Democrats, religious minorities, school shootings and wildfires.
Shortly before Democrats and 11 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to remove Green from a congressional commission, Congressman Jim Jordan appeared on the air with a warning.
“No one is justifying the claims she made,” Jordan said, referring to Green’s comments about violence against Democratic leaders and the suggestion that the school shootings were orchestrated by prohibitionists. “That’s not the problem. once it starts, it is not known when it will end. Who will be next? ”
Jordan made similar statements during the vote to impeach Trump in January – that an attempt by the left to punish conservative politicians for their statements will inevitably lead to an unhealthy environment not only for politicians, but also for ordinary citizens.
“The culture of abolition isn’t just about conservatives and Republicans,” he said. “It won’t stop there. It will happen to all of us. That’s what scares.”
Photo author, The Washington Post via Getty Images
Marjorie Taylor Green has lost her membership in one of the committees of the US Congress
“How can a politician say anything, without any consequences? – he asks. – And if the answer is that there are certain restrictions, then the question becomes even more direct: why does Jordan and his far-right company believe that Green’s radicalism has not gone too far? ”
At the heart of the “undo culture” debate is the question of actions and their consequences.But when do words (and not actions) deserve punishment? What form does this punishment take and for how long is it calculated?
Abraham Lincoln High School no longer exists
Calls for accountability are not limited to recent words or even to people in the last century. In January, the San Francisco Board of Education voted six to one to rename 44 public schools as a way to “eliminate racism and a culture of white supremacy,” according to council president Gabriela Lopez.
Buildings named after historical figures – Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Paul Revere, as well as our contemporaries, such as California Senator Diane Feinstein – will be renamed.
In an interview with Isaac Chotiner of the New Yorker magazine, Lopez defended the decision to rename by appealing to public values. Lincoln, for example, she said, pursued a policy of brutal treatment of American Indians. But the Board of Education found other motives as well.
“Lincoln is not going anywhere, but our district took this opportunity to celebrate the role of another other person who usually does not have the same social recognition, but has contributed to the progress of non-whites and our entire community in San Francisco.” – she said.
Photo author, Getty Images
Noble intentions failed to stop the storm of controversy. San Francisco Mayor Democrat London Breed called the vote out of time given the challenges schools face during the coronavirus pandemic.
Writer Gary Kamiya for The Atlantic described the board’s decision as yet another example of “progressive cultural censorship.”
“The idea that assessing historical figures by present-day standards is both untenable and ethically questionable obviously did not occur to the committee,” he wrote. perhaps simply outweigh their disadvantages. “
Opponents of the “cancel culture” warn that it will grow out of control. The living and the dead will be judged by today’s standards – standards that can change depending on the current political situation.
Freedom of speech and responsibility
An open letter from 153 public figures published in Harper’s Weekly last July, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, openly warned of “illiberal forces” whose “censorship” threatens free and open discussion different ideas.
“Restricting discussion, be it a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably harms those who do not have power and prevents them from participating in democratic procedures,” the letter says. not trying to silence them or pretend they don’t exist. ”
The letter was signed by, among others, J.K. Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell and Noam Chomsky.
Conservatives have seized on the term “abolition culture” as a political club against liberals that goes into action when faced with any political opponents.
“The Left is seeking to ‘undo’ anyone they do not approve of. I will fight the culture of abolition with all my might,” said Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley. He cites “a culture of cancellation” as the reason Simon & Schuster cut the deal to publish his book – shortly after Hawley backed lawsuits against Biden’s election victory.
On the left, in turn, they answer that there is a difference between “abolition” and prosecution for their actions and that although freedom of speech is protected from government interference, abuse of it threatens public health.
Parker Molloy of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America argues that many of the conservative arguments against the “culture of abolition” are instantly forgotten if the parties change places – and then it is the words or actions of the liberals that are objected. She notes that the same Hawley, for example, actively supported the idea that credit card companies stop dealing with the pornographic site Pornhub.
“It’s okay to think that the social or professional consequences of what is said or done are either too harsh or too lenient,” she writes, “and it’s okay to worry about how much power tech companies like Facebook or Twitter have in the world today.But using ‘withdrawal culture’ mechanisms to draw attention to these issues always looks like cowardice and laziness. “
90,000 Who Banned Superman in Kindergartens and Schools?
6.12.2018 at 12:00 at the press center of the news agency “National News Service” a press conference will be held on the topic: “Children under censorship: Who banned Superman in kindergartens and schools?”
On the eve of the new 2019, a wave of bans swept through kindergartens and schools in Russia.In Magadan, Moscow and a number of other Russian cities in kindergartens, advertisements were posted prohibiting children from dressing up for New Year’s parties in costumes of foreign cartoon characters. At a school in Yekaterinburg, police began checking after an exhibition of children’s drawings dedicated to Tolerance Day, which depicted same-sex couples. And a 12-year-old schoolgirl from the Novosibirsk region was kicked out of school for her hair dyed blue. The Russian Ministry of Education, meanwhile, prefers to remain silent.
During the press conference, its participants will tell you what censorship should be in school and preschool educational institutions, and also give statistics on complaints about such bans.
Participants of the press conference:
– President of the Russian National Committee of the World Organization for Preschool Education Larisa Shevchenko;
– Director of the secondary school No. 1 in Dubna, member of the regional headquarters of the ONF in the Moscow region Alexander Rudenko;
– Executive Director of the National Parents’ Committee Yulia Matyunina;
– Psychiatrist, psychotherapist of the highest category Alexander Fedorovich.