December 1982

Censors take out more than # $ % in literature

   Censoring has become a very controversial subject these days. What should be censored; who decides what is censored; what logic is used in censoring; and would people really be better off not knowing?
    Books that have commonly be censored are Huckleberry Finn, Mary Poppins, and The Catcher in the Rye. In some areas, textbook censoring is especially strict. In some Southern states, cards and dice cannot be used to illustrate problems in math books. Also, a group of nutritionists in California banned one textbook because of its use of a pizza as an illustration. They felt that it would "encourage children to eat food with questionable health benefits."
   In 1976 Huckleberry Finn was the subject of a censorship debate at New Trier East. A group of blacks there said that the book's reference to the word "nigger" was "morally offensive ... degrading and destructive to black humanity."
   Mr. Skinner, an English teacher at Maine South, points out some problems concerning censoring. "There is a difference in censoring for minors and adults. Minors are protected by law from reading 'harmful' material. Also, under this 'protection' for minors, should high school students be shielded from the same material as second graders? Wouldn't education rather than 'protection,' be a better tactic?"
   Different groups of people have gotten involved in censoring. This brings up the question of who is really qualified to censor material. Librarians urged the Cook County Board in November of this year for an exemption from the county pornography law for making available to children copies of National Geographic and legitimate sex education, medical, anthropology and art books. They wanted the board "to trust their professional judgment."
    A parent, Margaret Miezo of Shaumburg, was quoted in a newspaper as saying, "the judgment of librarians is faulty, permissive, and extremely bad." Mr. Skinner has trouble seeing the logic in her statement since there is no evidence proving her opinion. "It is totally unsupported; if parents are going to do the censorship for children, how qualified are they to do it?"
   The Reverend Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority, says, "textbooks are Soviet propaganda. Textbooks are destroying our children. [We must] rise up in arms and throw out every textbook not reflecting our values." What are "our values" censors should ask themselves.
   Another incident of censoring came about when Making it with Mademoiselle was banned, until it was discovered that the book was a collection of dress patterns for teenagers.
   Censoring at Maine South, though, has not been a problem. Mrs. Lange, LRC Chairman, says, "What the librarians select for the school library is not along the same lines as the public library. More discretion is used, and the library's main function is to support the curriculum."
   Mr. Davis, the English Department Chairman, said, "No book has ever been censored or withdrawn from the curriculum because of parent or student complaint. Very few individuals complain, and if a parent does object to a certain book, his child has the option to read an alternative book." He does not believe it is fair to keep other students from reading books that only one or a few persons object to.