ERIC Number: ED246428
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Mar-3
Reference Count: 0
Some New Perspectives on the First Amendment in the Schools.
O'Neil, Robert M.
The first textbook censorship challenge reached the courts in 1949, when a group of Jewish parents objected to Jewish stereotypes in literature used in the classrooms. This New York case is a reminder that (1) would-be censors do not always come from the far right; (2) while most censorship cases go to court for the purpose of having controversial materials put back on the shelves, sometimes a community or parent group will come to court from the opposite direction--to have material removed; and (3) library and textbook censorship issues are basically different from most other issues that arise under Constitutional free speech. In 1982, the United States Supreme Court finally intervened in a censorship case in Long Island, New York, where students had objected to the school board's decision to remove or restrict several library books found objectionable by parents and by the board. The case was significant in its opinion in favor of a plurality of educational materials, and in its singular recognition of the role of the school library in the educational process. The case was also disappointing in its elusive standard of proof, and in defining what was being supressed--ideas or vulgar language. The Supreme Court probably raised or left open many more questions than it answered in this decision, presenting two contrasting approaches to library and curriculum acquisitions: removing those materials that are injurious to a historically disadvantaged segment of society, or taking an ideologically neutral position on such materials. All materials not legally obscene or otherwise beyond First Amendment protection would be entitled to equal consideration. This approach seems preferable to a double-standard of acquisition. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: First Amendment; Supreme Court
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Wisconsin Intellectual Freedom Coalition (6th, Milwaukee, WI, March 1-3, 1984).