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Guest Column

Censorship should be a four-letter word
By Jim Fabiano
Jan 1, 2014 - 1:45:33 AM

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Webster defines censorship as, "to examine in order to take out things thought to be objectionable." The person or people that do this are called censors. These are officials who checks writing, movies, or even art to take out things thought by the censor as being objectionable.

The question here is what is the definition of objectionable. Going back to my old tattered Webster Dictionary I discover that objectionable is defined as, "a reason for a feeling of disapproval. Being objectionable leads to the opposition of what is deemed objectionable. My first question is by whom? This would have to be the censor who is defined as being, "the official who take things out that he deems to be objectionable."

Most people dislike the concept of censorship but it is an integral part of our society. Recently one of the stars of "Duck Dynasty" made homophobic comments in an interview. By the way, I've never watched the show and have no idea as to why anyone would watch any type of reality show. Soon after the patriarch of the family that makes duck calls was suspended. His comments were not surprising because his image is one of a far right conservative with a Baptist base.

The question shouldn't be what the comment was but did he have a right to express his views. Should he have been censored and ultimately censored from his show? I don't agree with what he said but why should other people demand he stop discussing his beliefs. If it offends then the people it upsets should simply stop listening.

The written word is something else that should never be censored. There have been times in our history when nationalism overwhelmed patriotism by not allowing anyone to disagree with our national policies. These times then evolved into a time in our history when conservative groups were undermining our first amendment rights. Attitudes change with times. No one should be told how he or she could express himself or herself. No official should determine what is objectionable.

Recently I was part of a poetry slam at the University of New Hampshire. This was a group of talented poets who competed in front of young men and women to see whose prose was the most pertinent and enjoyable. The audience was asked to judge each poet on a "0" to "10 scale. Simone Beaubien, who is a nationally recognized slam master, explained that the most successful poet would be one who was both loved and hated by the audience. In other words, the poet would receive both a perfect "10" and a not so perfect "0" as scores. After the presentation there were some complaints that the poets went a bit too far. How can an expression of art go too far? If art is censored how can it still be considered art?

Music is an art form I rarely understand. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. Personally I enjoy the genre popular opera sung by Andrea Boccelli or Sarah Brightman. Since I can remember, there have been groups of censors demanding anything they found objectionable should be censored from Elvis Presley's swinging hips to the Beatles shaggy hair cuts. Lyrics have been banned for using certain words and the artists who developed their own styles were said to be undermining the youth of our nation. The best way to censor music would be to simply not listen to it.

The newest censorship has to do with education. The program entitled, "Common Core Standards," tells the schools and the teachers what to teach. Of course, the program states it does not do this but the schools will be judged by how well their students do on standardized tests that are based on what the officials advised the teachers to teach. This is censorship with a bite; but most censorship is.

Webster defines censorship as, "to examine in order to take out things thought to be objectionable." The person or people that do this are called censors. These are officials who checks writing, movies, or even art to take out things thought by the censor as being objectionable. If anything is going to be allowed to destroy our nation and society it will have nothing to do with art or any of its forms. It will have everything to do with censorship and those proud to call themselves censors.

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine


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