Staff Editorial: We must stay on our guard against bans, censorship

At The Guilfordian, we take the issue of censorship to heart. As a student newspaper, we are lucky enough to be free from censorship by administrators, advertisers or other holders of power, but we are always aware of the threat to other champions of the printed word.

During this year’s Banned Books Week, we would like to honor those before us —  and those still today —  who have not been so fortunate and have had their voices silenced. We may not have public book burnings and witch hunts today, but censorship is a real and present issue which we have a duty to address.

We believe it is not enough to simply allow controversial books to exist. If they are sitting on bookshelves collecting dust, they’re as useless to us as piles of ashes. Instead, we feel it is necessary for educators at all levels to challenge themselves and their students by teaching many of the works that are deemed uncomfortable or inappropriate. If our best learning is done outside our comfort zone, then critically reading and discussing controversial books is sure to improve the quality of education.

However, not every controversial book should be included on summer reading lists. There comes a limit in every case, and it is up to individual schools and teachers to consider with an open mind what works best for their students.

The priority for books, as with all education, should be exposing students to all kinds of ideas while giving them tools to process them on their own terms.

Whether or not these books are accessible to minors, the ideas will be —  from sex, to violence, to injustices of all kinds. Allowing students to look at these so-called controversial topics in a safe learning environment will help them to face the same issues during the rest of their lives.

If we aren’t careful, groups from the left, right and in-between who fear discomfort will undermine the great strides we have made in this era toward achieving true freedom of speech.

Constant vigilance, as Mad-Eye Moody warns us in the commonly banned “Harry Potter” series.