In my English class, we started out the first full day by reading an interesting excerpt of Stephen King’s On Writing. It was a few pages photocopied thirty times so we could all circle, underline, make notes, etc. (I’m not entirely sure if this is legal, but schools do it all the time). Interesting thoughts, makes me want to read more of the book, etc. Not the issue.
The issue is the censorship. Someone had whited out all of the “offensive language” so we didn’t read it. Of course, we can all guess what goes in the blanks, but the whiting-out was far more offensive, to me, than the language. Seventeen and eighteen year olds all know those words, we hear them all the time. It’s not as if you’re spoiling our innocence by exposing us to the word “damn;” the very idea is laughable. That’s funny, but it’s also offensive, to me, to do that to someone’s writing, to deem it appropriate except for some part of it, to not give us the integrity of the whole piece of writing. Because you know what, sometimes the whole feeling of something, the whole meaning of it, can be changed by a few words. That’s not true of the excerpt of Stephen King’s book, but it’s the principle of it–removing pages, whiting out words, I find that all very distasteful and offensive. If the whole of the work isn’t good enough for you, then don’t use it in class–don’t decide it’s all okay except students can’t be exposed to some part of it. Any agreement? Dissent?