March is Illiteracy Month

A book on censorship with a page torn out.

John Callison

A book on censorship with a page torn out.

Garrett Callison, Opinion Section Editor

Censorship is being abused and is currently more political correctness than censorship. Recently, in March, books are being pulled off the shelves and history is being torn out of textbooks due to being too controversial. Is this the right thing to do? No. It is time for the power of censorship to be censored.

The big question is “What is censorship?” Censorship is the process in which the government prohibits news articles, books, and movies. This process is mostly used to protect people from inappropriate content, invasion of privacy laws, and security reasons. The idea of censorship had good intentions, but over time the process became over and inappropriately used. This became such a problem that even people’s words today are censored (not as in swearing, as in opinions).

Interestingly enough, March is Reading Month. Some children’s books have had the plug pulled and became banned books. Two years ago Little House on the Prairie was the victim of the recent first attack on children’s literature. 

In 2018 Little House on the Prairie was mentioned in an article by National Public Radio (NPR). It said, “A division of the American Library Association voted unanimously Saturday to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a major children’s literature award over concerns about how the author referred to Native Americans and blacks” (Kat Chow, 2018). The references offended people since they were politically incorrect, meaning they were racist (Discrimination against one’s race) or sexist (Discrimination against one’s gender).

The problem with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book and name being thrown under the bus is that the book was written in 1935 and the book was set in the 1870s. In the 1870s, the Civil Rights movement has not taken place yet, so many thought that way in that period of history. The references were timely. Relating back to the article Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the books during The Great Depression, she simply wrote the books so her family could afford things like food and water.

This month, six Dr. Suess books were pulled off the shelves. The National Broadcasting Commission said “Officials with the Chicago Public Library system say that they will pull six titles from children’s author Dr. Seuss from their shelves after a decision by the business that preserves the author’s legacy to no longer publish those works. That decision was made because of depictions of characters with stereotypical imagery, according to the business” (NBC Chicago, 2021) 

“Stereotypical imagery?” Dr. Suess books have all kinds of weird and quirky characters since kids would think it is funny. None of them are supposed to be stereotypes; they are simply just characters from imagination. It is simply just a misunderstanding they are fictional (not real) characters. Most of the characters that are considered racist are made to look like human representations, with the additional wackiness of Dr. Suess books. Regardless, of what the writer intended it is more important you consider what the reader thinks. Literature is about how the reader interprets the piece not what the writer wants people to think. Kids learn what one teaches them, teach kids to hate they will hate. It is devastating to see people losing their minds over books that were not intended to produce such reactions.

Over the years censorship has become political correctness. Political correctness used to mean the silencing or changing of words due to things like discrimination, it is the silencing or changing of words to spare one’s feelings. Regardless, both are not the best way to change things. Can words hurt people? Do they have weapons? No! Words only hurt people if people let them. This has led to the point in which opinions are silenced on social media due to people being offended. A conservative college student, by the name of Madison Bullweg, wrote a paper on what it is like being a conservative on a college campus (What it is like to be a Conservative Woman at AU) The article was labeled as victimized and then censored by being taken down, given a poor grade, and even people spreading rumors about the author. The comments in the article represent the problems with people in today’s society. One of them was “Girl what is this? Why do you have to be such a minority? You know how uncomfortable it is … grow up!”. How insensitive is that? These kinds of comments are what causes things to get censored because word gets around about articles and readings like this one. Many world-wide articles, books, and posts have comments just like those. This has led to the point in which history is being censored, history! 

Overall, censorship has been abused over the years. It used to be a tool to protect and now it is just a tool to bully and belittle. Why was it even a good idea to censor children’s books? Censorship is now used to prevent important and even truthful information from the public (News articles and opinions). All this negative feedback is only destroying the fabric of free speech and limiting what people can and cannot say.