Censorship was a more difficult topic than I first thought that it would be. But here are my conclusions of the semester:
I feel that the true question behind censorship is “Why??” Why are we banning this book? Why do we think it is unsuitable? Why would we want to keep people away from it? If these questions can be answered sufficiently than censorship seems to be an okay thing. But see, now I’m asking myself – who determines if the answers are sufficient? Oh censorship, you tricky subject you! Okay, I guess that overall I think that censorship has leaked into too many areas of our lives and is mostly used with bad intent. I feel that sometimes subject matter frightens people into claiming that books are “unsuitable.” To which I would reply that these people need to examine the world around them and see that there are lots of different things that people are exposed to in everyday situations. Sometimes, these things are confusing and hard to understand. However, many people (myself included) find that exploring these issues in books helps them to understand the issue and how to deal with it. Therefore, books dealing with “off color” words such as scrotum, or issues such as sexuality are often helpful.
However, there are times when censorship is good. I would not want to thrust ideas upon people if they are too immature to handle them. It is one thing for students to go to a library, pick out a book, and read it on their own. It is quite another to have a teacher in the front of the classroom force children to read things that they may not be ready to explore. If teachers want to teach books that may be controversial they will want to be ready with arguments to back up why they are teaching a book (like the activity that we did in class for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.)
So, overall I feel that censorship has gone too far in that it affects everything from standardized tests, to novels in class, and even war. However, if there were no rules at all then teachers/people would be able to get away with whatever they wanted and I think that in the end many students could be harmed by certain novels if they are not ready to deal with the issues presented.
The final thing that I want to talk about is blogs. I feel that blogs are a great addition to a literary classroom. Teachers could ask students to post thoughts, feelings, etc. about the novels in class. They can also post discussion boards where students can talk about issues in the book or answer questions. It takes the literary discussion away from the classroom and in doing so gives everybody a place to express what they feel about a novel being studied.