This is a ‘Throwback Thursday’ blog post. I wrote this nine (!!) years ago. It’s still very applicable today. Perhaps even more so.
One of the things I’ve always liked being able to do with the young people I know is give them things to think about. For many of them, that has come in the form of a ‘Scoutmaster’s Minute.’
I thought I’d start writing a few of these ideas up online. So, for the first one:
Today, I’m cleaning out my ‘office’ – the bedroom of my house that holds my computer and gobs of papers. Again. I’ve been working on cleaning my office for weeks now. Today’s task is going through and purging all of my college coursework. I kept it all – there were many hours of work, moments of frustration, even occasional tears shed as well as a tree or two killed in the name of homework and reports on the road to getting my college degree. However, I haven’t touched any of the work in years and it takes up a lot of space. If I do need to review things that I learned, I have my textbooks.
One of the folders of course work I came across today was for a speech class. My final speech in that class was a persuasive speech, for which I chose the topic of censorship: in books, at universities, and what individuals could do to combat censorship. I included a quote in my speech conclusion that I still think is very powerful.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt said this in 1938, in a speech he gave to the National Education Association: “If in other lands the press, books, and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep it free. Books may be burned and cities sacked, but truth, like the yearning for freedom, lives in the hearts of humble men and women. No people in the world can be kept eternally ignorant or eternally enslaved.”
I don’t know when exactly in 1938 that FDR spoke those words. It struck me today though how powerful of a statement that really was. It stands on its own, just as it is…however, at the time, the Nazi party was already in power in Germany. Books were being burned, banned, ideas and free speech were censored. Krystalnacht – the first programme executed against the Jewish people in Germany – was in 1938.
Even now, there is an ongoing effort to censor books and ideas. Free speech / free press is not being able to drop an F-bomb whenever and where ever you want. F-bombs aren’t a big deal. Ideas, books, education, your ability to criticize the government without getting your head lopped off – those are big deals.
You’re ultimately responsible for your education. Take the time to learn as much as you can about different viewpoints and ideas. Don’t let others censor your mind.
A couple of the silly (actually, downright “sad”) things that I found and included in my class speech :
– Edgar Rice Burroughs’ book “Tarzan” was removed from the Los Angeles public library because Tarzan was living in sin with Jane.
– The Diary of Anne Frank has been called ‘sexually offensive’ and was challenged for use in Alabama schools because “it’s a real downer.”
addendum #2 – for those of you who were in college when or before I was :
As I’ve been going through the mound of paper, I’ve been shocked to find many a test and final exam with SSN’s on them. I’d forgotten that our SSN’s were our student ID’s as well, we had them written and posted everywhere. Grades used to be posted on the walls by SSN… If you haven’t tossed your papers yet, be careful when you do, and shred them to prevent identity theft!