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Questioning the Media- Chapter 10

March 19, 2012

“Imagine that you are on a committee that oversees book choices for a high school library in your town. What policies do you think should guide the committee’s selection of controversial books?”

Being 18 and just out of high school, the 1st thing that comes to mind for me personally is the fact that, other than obviously obscene books with nothing but graphic content, I don’t want anybody telling me what I can’t read. Having just watched “Footloose” (Kevin Bacon’s; the new one is trash) the idea reminds me of a scene where a parent and the reverend are talking about trying to get the book “Slaughterhouse 5” removed from the curriculum simply because of the name.

Mr. Gurntz: He was trying to teach that book.

Mrs. Allyson: Slaughterhouse-Five, isn't that an awful name?

Ren: Yeah it's a classic... Slaughterhouse-Five, it's a classic.

Mr. Gurntz: Tom Sawyer is a classic! Do you read much?

Mrs. Allyson: Maybe in another town it's a classic.

Ren: In any town.

To answer the question, I think that the committee’s job should simply be to make sure that the books in the school’s library are explicitly graphic like a playboy magazine or the like. I personally feel that it being a high school library, the kids there should be mature enough and wanting to be on more of an educational level that they should respect anything that is published as a form of art or genuine media that they could learn from. Just like our conversation about the PC censorship of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, that was a period of time where that was acceptable. It is not solely directed to target black people and Native Americans and degrade them, it’s simply something written in a book that stands for a historical point in media.

Anyone remember this scene on Family Guy?

If you tried to draw a line between the books that are okay and which ones are not due to violence or subject matter that seems to me to be a very subjective basis. It reminds me of the movie we watched in class, “This Movie Is Not Yet Rated”, where the phantom-like board gets to put the axe to anything that they deem to be unfit. A board that sat in to decide which books are okay to put in a high school library would be exemplifying the exact ideal of the board that judges the movies. The result of this being lack of the spread of knowledgeable media. If tomorrow, every copy of Slaughterhouse 5 was taken off of school shelves, what have we gained? A win for the parents who think the name of the book was a bad influence on their children? Your child is in high school, i promise you they’ve heard worse than “slaughterhouse”. But back to what i was saying: there is no win from that situation. There is simply a loss of that book and the knowledge contained within it. After that book is taken away, the question is which book is next? and after that? Creating a subjective system of deciding which books would be okay for a high school library is something that would be done with good intentions, and horrible results.

So what policies would I instate to protect the youth of our towns high school? I would simply make sure that nothing receiving a XXX rating ended up on the shelves. Anything more intrusive than that and i believe that it begins to cut into the opportunities that children should have concerning the books that they are given access to.


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