Book censorship is a sign of tyranny | My opinion
School boards wield remarkable power when books are challenged and removed from the curriculum. Classic novels and contemporary literature are currently being reviewed in the communities according to news sources. by Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn of 1885 and Toni Morrison Beloved as of 1987 are both being phased out in school districts across the United States.
During the Cold War era, McCarthy hearings in the US Senate used literature as a way to accuse people. At this moment The communist manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles written in 1848 was a flashpoint during the Red Scare. In the 1960s, the book farm animalby author George Orwell, was questioned because it referred to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Both books are esteemed literature.
Unfortunately, censorship is present in the United States while we are a nation of freedom and tolerance. The book deletions violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has found, generally, that books cannot be removed from school libraries, but removing a book from the curriculum may be constitutional if it is “not narrowly partisan or political,” as noted. in the court’s opinion of the Island case of 1982. Trees School District v. Pico.
The great historical literature deals with complicated subjects. For this reason, the restriction of books only serves to divide us, whether it is race, religion or politics.
Let’s study the history of censorship and confiscation of books. Roman Emperor Diocletian suppressed Christian literature in AD 303 by confiscating the Bible papyri. The early papacy restricted the reading of scripture for centuries, fearing its power in the hands of the laity. The Good Book is currently censored in Russia and the People’s Republic of China.
The church in medieval Europe censored the books we now consider to be some of our most beloved works.
Enlightenment writer Voltaire wrote the short story Candid, which was banned when first published in 1759 due to speeches against the government and the church. The book asks the question: “Do you believe that the pope is the Antichrist?” The book exposed the tyranny, racism and misogyny of the time.
The political treatise The social contract published in 1762 by Jean Jacques Rousseau was banned by the church due to statements that disavow the religion. The author wrote that Christianity is “bondage and dependence”. The book is the pinnacle of social justice reform.
Centuries before the age of reason, the Greek philosopher Socrates was tried and sentenced to fatally ingest hemlock in 399 BC. AD for his ideas. Jesus was tried for his eloquence and was crucified by the Romans in the first century. Neither published a book, but their beliefs were declared illegal. We read their story in the writings of Plato and in the books of the New Testament. Notably, the Bible was banned in Spain during the Caliphate.
In 1933, the Third Reich made the decision to ban anti-party books, including authors Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde, Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce.
Imagine a college without the political theory of Nicolo Machiavelli or the plays of Molière. Both authors were censored in their time because the writing challenged hegemony.
Imagine a school without a literature library for students to read the works of authors James Baldwin, Harper Lee or Harriet Beecher Stowe. Each of these perpetrators is currently under review in school districts.
Let us remember that literature can deliberately be controversial by using words that may shock us. In the case of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the “n” word is ubiquitous. The word is there on the page to blame slavery, racism, colonialism, imperialism and the pre-Civil War South.
I encourage the community to study the books that are challenged in our schools and determine why these titles are under threat. Our local bookstores carry the books and authors listed above.
By removing books from the classroom, parents may be narrowly partisan or political about great literature. The church banned the books because the ideas on the page threatened power systems. We must stand up against tyranny.
Nicoletta Munroe is a writer living in Santa Fe.