Wednesday, May 19, 2004

freedom of bleach

Found this while reading posts on DailyKos. It’s well to remember freedom of speech is still under attack at many levels in this country, even in our educational institutions, where we’re supposed to learn certain lessons about our government and democracy. Another example is this guy, who I actually wish I could meet – Jarred sounds awesome; the NYT quotes him as saying “It’s okay to encourage student drinking, but it isn’t okay to be gay?” Lovely.

But this censorship isn’t limited to the usual liberal stuff; Christians are getting their shit censored, too. And for stuff as small as a biblical quote in a yearbook. (How’s that different from Emily Dickinson?) The general theme is, if anything is even slightly controversial, ban it. Yet this logic is counterintuitive. Schools should be places where controversy is examined, where students are given tools to examine it. Removing the controversy just gives students the kind of pablum that bores them and drums them out of schools, as James Loewen has noted in his excellent books, Lies My Teachers Told Me and Lies Across America. Controversy is the essence, not just of America, but of life itself; remove it, and kids know they’re not learning anything of value outside of maybe math class. And senseless censorship, like that employed in the Michigan case, just tells kids they’re under someone else’s control.

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