Censorship: The Suppression of Media in a Media Driven Society

Annie Roske, Editor-In-Chief

Read by almost every American student, the novel “Fahrenheit 451” poses an important question of the rights to read, speak, produce, or consume media. The issues of citizen’s freedoms of speech and expression are challenged by means of censorship and suppression. Although the novel takes place in a futuristic dystopian society, the subject of concern is presenting itself in a very real, very threatening manner, today.

Censorship now is mostly regarded as the limit of books that students are offered through schools. It is “not allowing someone to speak or get a message across” said Ginna Owens ’23, and member of the Seattle Prep Book Club. Prep has many programs and sections of curriculum that actively fight censorship, such as the Book Club, the full library and educated Librarians, and books such as “Beloved” by Tony Morrison taught in Collegio and English classes.

Despite having curriculum that battles censorship at Prep, it still exists. “There is a natural tension between adults setting boundaries and students pushing them, and Prep is no different from any other school,” said Mrs. Borgen, Library Director, “for example, what teachers might regard as a reasonable limit students would consider censorship. Add to the mix that we are a Catholic institution in a politically liberal city and there are plenty of opportunities for people disagreeing about who can say what and where.”

The Library at Prep holds many book titles that do discuss difficult topics and sensitive subject matters. “Our goal is to serve the information needs of our school community, and censorship isn’t a very useful tool for that” said Borgen.
Although censorship is less present at Prep, it remains a rising issue nationwide. More books and forms of media are being limited and prohibited in school districts and states, restricting what students are taught.

“People are censoring to a point where education is hindered, and I think in this day and age truth has become very relative depending where you live” Says Owens, commenting on the presence of censorship nationally. The cultural and political context of areas of the United States has vast effects on its levels and reasons behind censorship. In Seattle, restricted media is combated by divulging individuals fighting for the upholding of the First Amendment. More rural areas in the US likely have less of this.

Although censorship is less of an issue at Prep, or in Seattle at all, it is increasing nationally and threatens students education. Mrs. Borgen reminds us that “students have rights! The right to speak, the right to read, and the right to make up your own minds about an issue.”