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Censorship In School Is Not Right 6 pages in length. To be told what is permissible reading material and what is not is a direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Yet all across the country, school library shelves are being stripped of books that certain individuals and groups deem as unacceptable. Censorship is alive and well in the United States; its ripple effect on America's students is often as damaging as reading one of many so-called controversial books. The writer reveals why censorship in today's schools is both a violation of First Amendment rights, as well as a ploy for radicals and liberals alike to control the minds of our children. similarly, censorship has to do with forbidding people to express themselves in the manner best suited to their needs. The aim of censorship is to restrict thought--that is, to prevent people from thinking "bad" thoughts. The censors' basic premise is: Some ideas are so dangerous they must be suppressed. Material is censored because, "it might give people ideas"--ideas that the censors wish to eradicate. Some censors believe that "bad" thoughts cause direct harm to the person who entertains them. Some Christians, for example, consider "impure" thoughts mortal sins that doom a soul to suffer in Hell for eternity. Others simply hold that bad thoughts "corrupt" the thinker. For many years, this direct-harm argument was used to suppress sexual material. According to the Hicklin doctrine, formulated in England in 1868, the state had the right to suppress obscene material, which had a "tendency" to "deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences." Our ability to think is what makes us human, and our freedom of thought must be preserved at all costs. And freedom of thought is not the freedom to think "good" thoughts. The distinction between fantasy and reality is ignored or dismissed by the censors. This is why art is so feared by those at the extremes of both the right and the left. But in the realm of the imagination, anything goes. In one's own mind, one may do heinous things. One may rape, torture, steal, and murder. Fantasy is not reality and does not become reality by magic. Fantasy becomes real only by an act of will and anyone who commits that act of will is responsible for the consequences. Freedom of thought is meaningless without the freedom to communicate one's thoughts to others. Thus if freedom of thought is an absolute right, it would seem to follow that freedom of speech must also be absolute. But speech is a transaction between two (or more) parties: one conveying information and one or more receiving. All parties have the equal right to freedom of thought, and freedom of thought entails the right not to hear, not to read, not to view, etc. In other words, by the principle of equality, no one has the unlimited right to impose unwanted speech upon another. Finally, the distinction must always be recognized between freedom of speech and freedom of action. That is, adding a speech element to a criminal act cannot legitimize it. Catharine MacKinnon has argued that speech is just another form of action and that if the state may regulate action it may regulate speech. But speech differs from all other forms of action in that

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