Censorship at an Early Age
In my grade 5 religion class we were given an assignment. We were given a bible story, and had to draw a poster depicting said bible story. I was given Daniel and the Lions Den. So I went about my work, drew a hole near the top of the page with people looking in, drew Daniel, kneeling in prayer near the middle of the page, and drew a few lions not eating him. That's all fine and good. I then went on to draw the other people in the den. You know, the ones who had been thrown in previously, well, at least what was left of them. It was pretty standard. There was blood and gore, severed limbs, decapitated torsos, what you might expect to see in such a place. Needless to say, the teacher was a little freaked out. She didn't know what to do about it, so she consulted with the principal. Then she came back into the class, gave me a grade and proceeded to tear the poster up.
I don't think I have to tell you that if this happened today, there'd be quite a controversy about stifling the child's creativeness or something. Hell, they're even discouraged from correcting grammatical errors. That coupled with the fact that no one even teaches grammar anymore, is going to make the future of literature a bleak and incomprehensible wasteland. Do I think the teacher was wrong in what she did? HELL NO! I might not have destroyed the poster in front of the child, but there's no way I'd put that thing up on the wall. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of my work, but something like that does not belong in open view of 10 year olds for a prolonged period of time.
As you may have assertained, I tend to fall a little on the conservative side when it comes to free speech. Don't get me wrong, I'm not all about censorship, I just don't think people should be able to say whatever the hell they want and then hide behind a shield of legality. People should be able to speak their minds and voice their opinions, but where does one draw the line between ranting and propagating undesirable actions?
There is an article on this page where I give a scathing review of my opinions on animal rights groups. I put forth my opinions, the reasoning behind them and that's that. I don't encourage violent acts towards these groups, I don't even encourage boycotting them. My sole intention is to inform. I would be ashamed if someone were to use my words to fuel violence. I've said this before, but I'll say it again, I'm no psychologist. Even so, if a violent act is perpetrated under the influence of speech, there are only two plausible responses from the speaker. 1. Guilt - violence was never their intention. 2. No guilt - they aren't washing their hands of it, it was their intention all along.
This is far from a solution, but here's what I'd do as a step in the right direction. Whenever someone uses a racial epithet in an open forum, anyone who hears it can make a complaint. The matter would then be brought before a diverse assembly of various ethnicities. They would decide if the racial remark was made innocently, or with malcontent. If it is determined that it was spoken in malcontent, the speaker goes to jail. As far as I'm concerned, no one should use racial slurs unless they are a member of said race, or using the word to make a constructive point. There may be those who would disagree, but I believe the world would be a better place.