Book banning brings to question free speech 

By: Sierra Wells

Managing Editor

After Granbury Independent School District (GISD) banned several books from their library in January, public outcry has brought up a serious question about whether prohibiting articles of literature is a violation of free speech.

Associate Professor Katrina Hinson does not think banning books will positively benefit society.

“I just can’t see the ‘good’ side of banning books. I always have the choice to pick it up and read it or not, the same way I have the choice to buy it or not – as long as we have the choice to make.  The world is big and diverse, and books highlight our differences and our similarities,” Hinson said. “We build connections, learn to empathize and create, and yes, sometimes people learn to destroy. Books, like life, are multifaceted, many layered. What works in one moment in time, might not work in another. The world changes; books change. New books don’t replace old books; old stories can be revised and even countered.” 

Associate Professor Katrina Hinson.
Photo courtesy of Katrina Hinson (@KLHinson) / Twitter

According to GISD, five young adult books by Abbi Glines were taken off library shelves, and 130 other books are also in consideration for removal. The district’s justification for banning Glines’ books was the presence of sexual content within the pages.

“We purchased this on the good faith that this was, indeed, true as it was indicated. It has come to my attention as recently as Jan. 25 as to the actual content. I was unaware of the explicitness until then,” Granbury High School Librarian Tammy Burns said. “There are now reviews available to corroborate this; however, to the best of my recollection, they were not there at the time this series was purchased.”

In the last century, several cases have been brought to the United States Supreme Court in relation to schools banning specific books.

According to “Freedom Forum Institute,” during the Island Trees School District v. Pico case in 1982, the Supreme Court determined that disagreeing with the contents of a book does not justify its removal by school administration.

“I often find that banning books has more to do with power and control. Group A feels threatened so Groups B-Z need to be silenced, and that silencing begins when we start banning books or access to books that represent Groups B- Z, or we start highlighting only books that show Groups B-Z in a negative light, and sometimes, we even go so far as to try convince others that Groups B-Z never existed in the first place,” Hinson said.

Senior General Business major Hanna McGrath thinks, while sometimes justified, there are problems with banning books from schools.

“I could understand if schools try to censor certain books for students of younger ages; however, when schools begin to dictate what they deem is ‘acceptable’ then usually problems begin to arise,” McGrath said. “Books that are historic masterpieces are starting to become banned from students’ education because some find them offensive and out of date. Nevertheless, if schools dictate what books students are allowed to read then the culture and time period will be forgotten and the art will be lost.”

As a long-debated topic in society, book banning is an example of the complex nature of free speech.

“History happened. We need books to help us not forget, to help us remember, to help us learn, to help us grow. I think banning books leads to destruction, stagnation and sameness. Instead of world full of myriad colors and varied depths, we would end up with something gray and formless,” Hinson said. “I’ve always felt the world would be a pretty boring and dull place if we all looked the same, felt the same, thought the same and in banning books. I think that’s what we’re headed into.”

After review, GISD returned a majority of the books to the school libraries but are now receiving criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union. 

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