Debating Culture and the Courtroom—Past and Present
Take Action! - Changing Times, Changing Censorship
1. Visit the American Library Association, the American Family Association, and filteReality to learn about the debate surrounding the use of Internet filters by libraries. Interview someone from your local library to find out its policy regarding Internet filtering. Does it have separate computers for children and adults? Should libraries be responsible for restricting children's access to objectionable Web sites? Do First Amendment concerns outweigh the need to protect minors from objectionable materials found on the Internet that are not afforded First Amendment protections? Report your findings to your class. Form a group to think of other ways in which society protects youth from "objectionable" matters (e.g., enforcement of underage drinking laws, age restrictions on viewing movies). Do you think the debate over library filtering is similar to or different from these issues? Prepare a group proposal regarding Internet filtering for the libraries in your area. Have members of your group stage a mock presentation before the head of your school district's library for and against the proposal's adoption.
2. Form a group to visit Education World and the Office for Intellectual Freedom to collect information about banning books and films such as the Harry Potter series.
a. Organize the findings and identify why each book or film was banned. Were the criteria used to ban the books based on "vague and subjective standards," or could the reasons be justified based on the First Amendment? Does your group agree or disagree that the books and films should be banned? When you disagree, what is the basis for the disagreement? Can you find ways to accommodate all concerns? What are they?
b. Develop a list of films that have generated controversy in the past (e.g., The Last Temptation of Christ, Lolita). Prepare a summary of the film, list the film's rating (G, PG, R, etc.), genre (fiction or nonfiction), and any information about the controversy. Consider these questions: Would the film have been licensed for production based upon the licensing boards and the Hollywood Production Code? Why or why not? Do you agree or disagree with your finding? Why or why not? Do we need these types of regulatory guidelines for today's film industry? Why or why not?
Student Central | Students in Action | Debating Culture and the Courtroom—Past and Present
Cultures, Courts, and the U.S. Constitution
When Guilt or Innocence Depends on the Era
*Changing Times, Changing Censorship* | TV and the Courtroom