Banning books: Authors and educators discuss the merit of censorship

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Juliana Siml | The Daily Wildcat Pine Reads Review interns and UA Debate team facilitated a panel discussion featuring authors and educators.

*Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 17 with an incorrect representation of the panelists' beliefs that has since been corrected and updated on Dec. 21.


The UA Debate Series, along with Pine Reads Review, hosted “Banned Books: Does Censorship Ever Have Merit?” a Nov. 15 collaborative event featuring discourse on the legitimacy of censorship in children’s literature. The event took the form of a panel discussion rather than a traditional debate. Among the panelists were journalist Dashka Slater, and authors Brandy Colbert and Cynthia Harmony, as well as several in-state and out-of-state educators.

Despite coming from a variety of different backgrounds and careers, the panelists condemned the common act of using censorship to suppress other people's beliefs and silence diverse perspectives, such as those from BIPOC and those in the queer community. While children are often the target of this type of censorship, several of the panelists believe teachers, librarians and parents should still play an important role in the curation of reading material for children, which is a different act entirely than censorship.*

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“I was surprised and delighted that [the panelists were] in agreement that the answer to the question ‘does censorship ever have merit’ was ‘no’ across the board,” said Ted McLoof, executive director of the UA Debate Series. “I thought it was great that they all said ‘no,’ but they all had very different, informed reasons for why … . They were all coming at the question from different places.” 

The UA Debate Series will be offering many more exciting events in the Spring semester, including a series of guest speakers, the Regents’ Cup statewide debate tournament and a return to the more traditional debate structure for their events. The organization opted for panel discussions rather than formal debating during fall 2022, in order to facilitate civil conversations amidst the high tensions of election season.

“We’re trying to bring in a wider community by elevating the concept of discourse … we see during our election seasons especially that people are talking over each other and clashing a lot. We want to draw attention to discourse that can be productive and harmonious,” McLoof said.

Those who are interested in getting involved with the UA Debate Series can learn more from the organization's Instagram: @uadebateseries. And for those interested in Pine Reads Review and hearing more about current children's literature can check out their website, pinereadsreview.com.


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