Censorship with Good Intentions?


I think we would all agree that censorship is bad.  But it can creep up with seemingly good intentions.  A teacher asked me the other day about what our middle school students were listening to on their iPods.  We had already had discussions about how it’s our job to teach students respectful ways to use devices like iPods in school – when they should be put away at certain times and when it is ok to use them for study or for pleasure.  I’m sure they are listening to lots of songs on those iPods and I bet some of those songs have explicit lyrics.  Nobody would want their students to listen to explicit lyrics, but when does an attempt to protect them go too far?  I’m sure this is a complicated subject, but here was my response to my teacher:

I share your general worry about what kids listen to, but deciding what they can and cannot listen to is a slippery slope.  Students bring their iPods and the music on the iPods from home, and parents are in charge of that.  An analogy would be if a student brought personal reading from home and it was a racy summer romance novel.  It would be inappropriate for us to censor what students read for their own personal enjoyment as much as it would be inappropriate for us to censor what they listen to.  We wouldn’t say, show me that book before you read it so we shouldn’t say, play me that song before you listen to it. We cannot be in the position to say Beatles yes, Black Eyed Peas, no.

What are your thoughts about our iPod dilemma.  How does your school handle issues like this?


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