Censorship Key issues for discussion
First Amendment Rights • What is actually guaranteed to you as a citizen? • THE FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
How would our nation be different if we didn't have free speech? • How significant is the free speech consideration in the First Amendment?
What forms does censorship take? • Many definitions and forms: • http://journalism.okstate.edu/faculty/jsenat/censorship/defining.htm
Censorship in schools • One argument used by some people who wish to ban books is that the First Amendment doesn't specifically address the freedom to read. • Is the freedom to read implied or included inside of the Amendment somehow? • What is the difference between a parent challenging a book and censorship? • How can book challenges be used to limit students’ reading?
Censorship in schools • In Cedarville, Arkansas, the parents of a fourth grader challenged the school board's decision to place Harry Potter on a restricted borrowing list. • Why might schools agree to place challenged books on such a list? Is that an acceptable solution? • How do textbook companies dictate what public schools teach? • Why might many teachers feel it’s "safer" to teach directly from textbooks?
Censorship in Schools • Should parents be able to ban materials from the library or classroom? • Research why Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is so often challenged. • What should the process be for parents to challenge a book or limit a student’s access to them? • Write a letter to the board explaining why you think parents should or should not be allowed to ban the Harry Potter series from the school library or the “Battle of the Books” list.
Common Forms of Media Censorship • Keeping the names of rape victims out of the media • Protecting the privacy of victims, but not accused • Names of whistle-blowers do not receive same protections • Avoiding graphic details and images • Details or images of crimes, war • Concealing security information • Reporters are not allowed to air information about locations, troop movements, etc. • Abu Ghraib prison photos
Government Uses of Censorship • What are appropriate ways for the government to censor news? • How have TV/internet made that more difficult? • What are the potential problems with allowing government censorship? • i.e. how can government censorship get out of hand? What are potential over-reaches of government censorship? • How can citizens deal with government censorship? • Freedom of Information Act
Debate Activity • You will be randomly assigned to the negative or affirmative side. • You will have this class period to research and prepare. • You will have time tomorrow to organize and practice your arguments. • I would like to have the debate tomorrow. • There will be a sweet prize to the team that is the most persuasive.
Planning Phase • You should research and prepare an argument for: • Opening “constructive” statement in which you explain your main points and support with evidence (maximum 8 minutes) • Questions to ask the other side in cross examination • Closing statement in which you summarize, reflect, and remind the judge what the most important points are (2 minutes or so)
Resolution The United States government should be prohibited from exercising any sort of press censorship during wartime. There is no “right or wrong” answer to this question - if there were, we wouldn’t still be talking about it.
Some resources to start with • www.newseum.org/warstories/ • www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2001-10-23-ncguest1.htm • commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/writings/military.html • http://www.pbs.org/weta/reportingamericaatwar/reporters/pyle/waskow.html (Stories from WWII that can be used as evidence, but warning, they are about war – i.e. they contain descriptions of violence, gross stuff, and “language.”) • http://www.pbs.org/weta/reportingamericaatwar/resources/#web