Good Essay On Censorship In The United States
The basic rights of every American citizen of the United States are documented in the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights addresses the freedom of speech, press, religion, and petition (Findlaw 2015). It reads:
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 (Findlaw 2015).
Yet, there are people who believe they can violate the First Amendment Rights with actions such as banning books. Although they have no legal authority, groups try to use their influence to censor public communication; for example, they demand specific books be taken from library shelves. As the United States has progressed in the area of personal rights, there are those people who have interpreted it as their right to impose their values on others.
Censorship is a violation of the First Amendment and it may take many forms, but it always gives itself the power to decide what will or will not be distributed to the public. Censorship can be seen when an individual or group challenges a library to remove material from the shelves. The American Library Association (ALA) feels that an individual or group has the right to express their opinion, however socially unacceptable it is (ala.org 2015). Parents may ask for the removal of books from a library based on a standard of sexual explicitness or offensive language. However, the ALA believes this is a form of censorship that removes the material from access by everyone and not just children. The Association states “ . . . parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” (ala.org 2015). This is an example of how an institution can stand on the First Amendment right of freedom of press to resist attempts to dictate the content of a public facility.
Outside the walls of the libraries, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is vigilant against violations of the rights of American citizens (American Civil Liberties Union 2015). The organization is active in informing individuals they have a right to access public information and express themselves. When students were told to surrender social media passwords, the ACLU stepped in to let them know they are not required to do so; the demand is an attempt to restrict communication and is a violation of their Constitutional Rights. In addition, web filters on college computers block the flow of information from hundreds of websites the staff declares unacceptable. The censorship placed on the websites is an act by the school that is unconstitutional and therefore should be removed.
Freedom of speech and press is a right allowed to people living in America, and any person or group attempting to censor this right is in violation of the Constitution of the United States. Groups like the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union support the rights of citizens regarding illegal censorship. Americans should take a stand to exercise their rights through informed discussion, organized protests, and legal action is necessary. Censors have no rights to demand the removal of specific books from the library or to limit access to information on the internet for college students. The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech to all American citizens and anyone attempting to restrict those writes are without legal support. The population of the United States is fortunate in that the evolution of our society has allowed citizens to express their opinions about the value of information disseminated to the public. However, this does not mean anyone has the privilege to block the rights of freedom of speech or freedom of press based on their own opinions.
Ala.org. 'Timeline: 30 Years Of Liberating Literature | Banned & Challenged Books'. N.p., 2015.
Web. 21 Jan. 2015.
American Civil Liberties Union. 'Student Speech'. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Jan. 2015
Findlaw. 'Annotation 6 - First Amendment - Findlaw'. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.