Theme Of Censorship In Ella Minnow Pea

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On the face of a cenotaph a tile quivers—delicately but ominously, as if an earthquake were approaching. It quivers again, rocking back and forth more perceptibly, soon escalating into a spasmodic motion. Suddenly, the tile falls, plunging swiftly downwards and shattering out of existence as it hits the ground. And along with the tile, a letter of the alphabet disappears forever. This is the situation presented in the novel Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn. In this novel, the characters face censorship and totalitarianism as letters of the alphabet are gradually banned from use. While certainly a whimsical story, Dunn’s criticism of censorship is clear throughout the novel and applies to a hotly debated issue today: free speech on college campuses.…show more content…
Freedom of speech is explicitly guaranteed as a right to citizens in the First Amendment. It is true, though, that over the course of history, various limitations and exceptions have been put on these rights. One of the most well-known is the case of Schenck v. U.S. in 1919, which established that speech that presents a clear and present danger is not protected. Various other cases have also established that speech that incites crime or presents obscene material that violates the values of society are also prohibited. Therefore, colleges should definitely prevent people who have a background of violence and crime from speaking at their campuses for the safety of their students. However, this also means that speech that does not call for violence should not be prohibited, no matter how offensive it is. After all, when all of these historical standards are picked out and taken into account, what we are left with is the bare backbone of our nation’s philosophy: the freedom to express your true…show more content…
A possible solution, and perhaps the most fundamental of all, is education. A recent national survey conducted by Professor John Villasenor at UCLA suggests that a disproportionately large number of undergraduate students do not understand the core of the First Amendment. For instance, when asked whether or not an offensive view requires an equal view to counter it, 6 in every 10 participants responded “yes.” But it does not. When asked whether it was appropriate to shout to drown out the voice of a controversial speaker, half of the participants responded “yes.” But it is not. And most shockingly, when asked whether violence is reasonable for disrupting hateful speech, 1 in every 5 participants responded “yes.” But it is not. What we have to remember is that there is a clear distinction between what may be offensive and what is unconstitutional. Therefore, students need to be educated about this core principle before they protest against dissenting

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