Attacking the First Amendment: The growing censorship movement

Lindsay Giovannone, Copy Desk Chief

Censorship, and advocating for it, is anti-American. Banning and controlling information is the work of an authoritarian government, not a democratic one. It is also a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Even still, individuals and entities make attempts to ban certain works of literature for a myriad of reasons. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the top three reasons written works are challenged are because there is “sexually explicit” content, content that is “unsuited for any age group” and/or content with “offensive language.”

Pen America, an organization that advocates for free speech, reported that from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, schools banned 2,532 books. These bans occurred in 32 states and affected 4 million students.

2022 is set up to be a record year of book challenges; from Jan. 1 – Aug. 1 alone, there have been 681 challenges on 1,651 unique titles. 41% of these books have LGBTQ themes and protagonists, 40% include protagonist or secondary characters of color, 22% contain various sexual content and 21% address race or racism.

“Everywhere Babies” is a picture book for children aged 1-3 containing illustrations of babies crawling, sleeping and being cradled by family members was placed on the Florida Citizens Alliance Porn in Schools Report because there is an illustration of a same-sex couple, which is absolutely asinine. If you are viewing a book about babies as having pornographic material, reevaluate yourself and your perspective. Same-sex couples taking care of a child is not pornography; this is a book intended for babies’ enrichment and learning.

Over half of the books challenged are intended for young adults or children. It is not children that are challenging books for their content, but adults who are fearful that their children may be “exposed” to certain themes or content, such as gender identity, mental illness, sexuality and racism. But this bubble they are fabricating is only to comfort themselves. Racial injustice will not end because a child doesn’t read about it; queer people will still exist; mental illness will still be prevalent. Reading about these topics and seeing your identity and experiences in an empowered character is affirming and validating.

Books represent the most core experiences of a society and reflect the world’s most common occurrences. They are time capsules of their periods. You cannot coddle your children into ignorance and shield them from the realities of life.