Thursday, July 3, 2008

USA Censorship and Books

I apologise for the harsh title of this post but facts are facts. Last year I read and reviewed a book called the Freedom Writers Diary, which was also made into a movie starring Hilary Swank.

It was an excellent book written by Asian, Caucasian, Latino, Hispanic and African-American teenagers about their own lives in the inner city of Los Angeles. These students were all expected (by the teachers) to drop out, end up in jail or on the streets or worse. Instead every one of them graduated from High School. These teenagers learnt to rise above the poverty, the drug abuse, the guns and other crimes in their neighbourhoods. They learnt to beleive in their dreams, to make goals for themselves and to strive to reach those goals. And one of the things they did was to set up a Freedom Writers Foundation.

Well today I read a news article that says this.

An Indiana teacher who used a much lauded bestseller, The Freedom Writers Diary, to try to inspire under-performing high-school students has been suspended from her job without pay for 18 months.

This high school teacher attended a work shop at the Freedom Writers Foundation. She was DENIED the opportunity to allow her students to READ and learn from this book - The Freedom Writers Diaries. Apparently one school board member objected to the language. ONE person objected to swearing - language that everyone speaks and hears all day, every day, even me.

One has to wonder if it was the swearing the board member really objected to - or whether it was the clear message of the book that kids can turn their lives around, and take charge of their own destinies. There are some in academia, unfortunately, who can't stand it when kids don't live down to their expectations. The real obscenity here is not the swearing, but the refusal by the board to give this teacher permission to use a very powerful tool to help these kids excel. WRH Rivero

What makes this worse is that in todays world, this story is not reported in the US media. No, we have to read the non-American press to find stories like this.


Wendy said...

This is a travesty - and it is why I am so opposed to censorship and banning of any literature...who are these people who feel it is their right to deny others the freedom to read? I will bet every single person who wanted this worked banned and censored has not even read the book.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiments. Note, however, that the current politics, both mainstream and minority, demand that people stop using foul language. The thinking is that if people behaved, we might find that there is more to like about each other. If half the people don't like how the other half speaks there will not be any occasion to find common ground. I am not sure if regulating how a person speaks as opposed to the ideas a person is trying to communicate qualifies legally as censorship.

Historia said...

It may be true that speech is not censorship, but it is politically correct to not swear. And being politically correct is a form of control. This control comes about in the form of society rules or conformity.
I for one will NEVER conform to society's rules. I am an INDIVIDUAL.
The governments do not like individuals.

Telling us what we can and cannot read is censorship. The Catholic church and the Vatican has a very well known and rather long list of books that their adherents are not permitted to read.

That is censorship.

Nobody tells me what I can and cannot read.