Perspectives: Debating the banning of books

Book with wooden judge gavel, chain and padlock on wooden table, censorship concept. / Getty Images/iStock/Valerii Evlakhov

Two columnists present contrasting views about banning books in school libraries.

POINT: Drawing the line between censorship and age-appropriateness

By Robert Pondiscio

"You're for censorship! That's against the First Amendment!"

"Do you believe school libraries should carry Hustler?"

"No, of course not!"

"OK, so you're for 'censorship' too. Now we're just negotiating over where to draw the line."

A good friend (and staunch libertarian) uses this imagined dialogue to make an important point. Even those of us who consider ourselves near free-speech absolutists have to draw our lines somewhere. I've spent my entire adult life in two fields of work, journalism and education, which both have an immune response to censorship. But I'm increasingly sympathetic to the line drawers.

Candidly, I don't find perennial, unresolvable arguments over canonical works of literature all that compelling. We've had more than a century to decide whether "Huckleberry Finn" belongs in school libraries or English classes, so it's clear no resolution is at hand.