At Issue

(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

With literature comes censorship and attempts at constitutional guarantees; legal precedent and common sense have long had to contend with the ever-renewed desire to censor. For example, a bill introduced to the U.S. Congress on April 25, 1991, by a host of statesmen, the Pornography Victims’ Compensation Act of 1991, was aimed at distributors of pornography. The bill caused great concern among educators and librarians because it could have been used against them, depending on how pornography was to be defined. Censorship of literature has included such works as folktales and Mother Goose rhymes. Claims may be made that such literature is pornographic.

At issue, then, are such basic values as the freedom to read, to exchange ideas, and to think for oneself. In the United States, such issues involve the First Amendment to the Constitution. Such freedoms require a continual vigilance in order to keep them vital. These freedoms, which may, at first glance, seem granted and long since established, are, in fact, undergoing a constant attack and redefinition. Censorship cases have risen dramatically since the mid-1970’s.