tv Hearing on Free Speech and Book Bans - Part 1 CSPAN May 10, 2022 10:24pm-10:47pm EDT
>> good morning and welcome to everyone for today's hybrid hearing. pursuant to house rules some people will be in person and others appearing on zoom. for members appearing rightly know you are familiar with. have your cameras turned on at all times, have your microphone muted. you can just unmute your mike and tell me. we will begin the hearing in just a moment when they tell me they are ready to begin the livestream and hello to all of our wonderful witnesses that have joined us. this will be a really important hearing for america. good morning, thank you to all of our witnesses for joining us today. thank you to all the members per
dissipating, we are in the middle of vote so there will be a little bit back-and-forth congressional style. i am very happy to be here with the wonderful ranking member of the subcommittee nancy mace. in 1943, in west virginia versus burnett, the supreme court struck down composed torry flag salute as a violation of the first member -- compulsive torry flag salutes as a violation of the first amendment. -- other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess is order act of fate. the court affirmed that neither teacher nor student shed their
first amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate. in 1982, most relevant to our hearing today, board of pico, the supreme court rejected the effort by a school board in newark state to strip objectionable books from public school libraries. they members had gone to a conference promoting censorship and came back with a targeted hit list. the kind of hitless that is familiar to us. best short stories of negro writers edited by langston hughes. black boy by richard wright. after widely brandishing a compilation of passages, they overrode their own censorship committee and went ahead and censored nine of them. when the case went to the
supreme court the majority sided with the students. they claim that the removal of books from the student library effected a form of political and ideological thought form antithetical to the concentration. announcing the judgment of the court and delivered an opinion that was joined by justice john paul stevens who had been nominee by president ford. justice blackmun and justice thurgood marshall. this was a decision dominated by supreme court justices who had been nominated to the court by gop presidents. that is something that we need to think about. i hope, everything we talk about today will transcend the traditional party lines. board of education's versus pico, justice brennan found that the constitution protects not just his right to speak and
write, but the right to receive information and ideas. the first amendment plays a central role in affording the public access to discussion, debate, and the dissemination of information and ideas. the court ruled that it extended to school libraries. the selective removal of books from school libraries. because someone considers the content of offensive. directly and sharply implicates students re-speech and thought. in school libraries the regime of voluntary inquiry holds sway. the content or viewpoint of a book that you depose are the floor, check out this powerful logic, to not read them, or write a negative review. or even shades of all tear here, write your own book in answer. it is like abraham lincoln's golden apple of liberty.
everyone wants to take a bite out of it. somebody hates left-wing speech and they want to censor it, someone hates speech from the right and the take a bite out of it. someone wants to censor mark twain, huckleberry finn because he is the end word and someone wants to censor the antiracist baby because they leave it can mean babies can be races. everyone wants to take one or two bites out of apple, but if we allow all those bytes there is no apple left. the way to say the apple for all of us is to learn to tolerate the speech you up or as well as the -- your poor as well as the speech you agree with. if we cancel or censor everything that people find offensive, nothing will be left. everybody is offended by something. that is why other people's level of defense cannot be the metric for defining whether your rights
are my rights are vaporized. there is a famous story about lenny bruce, the risk a comedian from the middle of the last century. they said the show should be shut down because it offended him. he said from the stage, my parents came to america in order to be offensive and not be thrown to jail because of it. during a time to celebrate intellectual curiosity, scholarship, basic intellectual freedoms are under attack again. in 2021 the american library association office for intellectual freedom reported the highest numbers of censorious channels -- challenges the library books in 29 years. 729 bucks -- efforts to censor. books in texas. just one of these implement by
the state legislator has implemented the systematic review of 800 books in every school district of the state. there are over 1000 school district and 800 public schools -- 8000 public schools in the lone star state. this will cause hundreds of thousands of hours reviewing books to implement a regime of censorship at a time when school resources are stretched then and states across the country are facing teacher and staff surges. the vast majority of -- shortages. the vast majority being targeted are not mandatory a part of the curriculum. they are books of choice. what books are being targeted? well, some all favorite targets are back like catron arrived. native son, huckleberry finn. catcher in the rye. a bunch of books about year -- i brought here.
seahorse, we will hear from ruby bridges, whose book ruby bridges goes to school is been a target of satan -- censorship. a noble prize-winning author. a kids book about racism has been targeted for censorship. a book called hair love. the infamous anti-racist baby book. little legends exceptional men in black history. finally, little dreamers, visionary women around the world. these are some of the most common books that are being targeted right now. obviously is a legitimate subject for parents, teachers, principals, school boards to discuss which books are the best and age-appropriate curricular choices. this is what they do, and the
best one includes families, parents, experts in decision-making process across the country. that is normal curricular and library selection process, different from a moral panic over a word or passage in a book and then demanding its removal from the school library. fashions and censorship change, for a great deal and sent -- of our century they were censored because they were considered politically indecent or subversive. many books are being targeted for censorship these days simply because they address racism or white supremacy. as historical and sociological realities. or address human sexuality or lgbtq issues. or the author was gay or a person of color or some other allegedly objectionable reason.
if you can give me this, i wrote a book. it was censored. called, has not been censored yet, but it is being targeted for removal in the school of texas. we the students, was sponsored by the supreme court's own historical society analyzing the constitutional freedoms of young people in public schools. it looks at a whole bunch of cases that affect kids in public schools like censorship's and newspapers and locker searches and drug testing. i am certain now must be the first book ever sponsored by the supreme court's own historical society that is now being targeted for censorship. i only wish that the aspiring sensors would rely discussion of board of education versus pico on page 59 my book before the sensor at. it tells him everything he need to know about how it is illegitimate to strip books from the school library just because
somebody disagrees with it. ok. the books on the poster boards have all been targeted for censorship. or actually banned from schools. this is your time by ruby bridges, a remarkable figure from the civil rights movement. she has been towns and targeted for censorship. simply because it said the book describing the story of a little gold -- girl first integrated public schools in the state of louisiana facing a racist backlash may make white children uncomfortable. this radically understates the power of empathy, passion, solidarity and all children are most children have are capable of developing. it also suggests that the actual lived screens of people should be suggest -- suppressed. if learning about them will make other people uncomfortable. a far-fetched unworkable unjust principle that cuts against the
fundamental idea of free expression. with that, i will turn over to miss mace for your opening statement. >> thank you mr. chairman, i should have brought my book, in the company of men. thank you and pleased to have the opportunity today to highlight the importance of freedom of speech in our country and the important work that k-12 curriculum in public schools serve as well. the first amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech to all-americans and states that congress should make no laws abridging the freedom of speech. the government can set reasonable time, place, manner, restriction circumstances. the government cannot and will not please a speech he went as disagreeable or repugnant, the state allows -- to what they have to say. we do not punish thought criminals in this country unless
you are a main character in orwell's 1984. freedom of peach -- speech is not a mandate and trying in our constitution it is an essential element to democracy. views of -- across the spectrum are debated in the market place of ideas, abiding by the first amendment prohibition of the restriction of the freedom of speech. public universities and colleges frequently run afoul of the first amendment freedom by enforcing broad or broad speech codes or chilling speech across college campuses by investigating thought criminals. there have been disturbing campaigns to expel students, fire faculty, or disinvited speakers that go against the progressive consensus or groupthink. they are unlawfully stifling free speech to coddle young adults in a time when there
educational careers they should be exposed to a variety of ideas and perspectives. a progressive activist shutting down speech on college campuses are trying to hyper exposed young children who are trying to read them aright, and subtract. i can person or member a story from my kids in elementary school, i was picking them up from the carpal line in school and they had a government lesson -- government democracy versus socialism versus coming is him. i asked them which one was best. they said socialism. i pulled to the closest exit on the interstate and had the conversation about the dentist -- differences. then they said democracy was the best armor government financed a tube america. in an effort to indoctrinate young students such as race essentialism, as scapegoating and content of a sexual nature that is not appropriate for very young children.
all children should be taught the academic skills and need to succeed as well as a history of the country, the good, the bad, the ugly you must also teach the children about the problematic track -- chapters are history. we must also teach them about the heroes who have led us to a more perfect union. one of those heroes today, ruby bridges is joining us in the hearing. a civil rights icon and author who made history as a six-year-old girl courageously braving a hostile crowd to integrate a elementary school in louisiana. we have so many stories that should be taught in schools, area tub and who rescued 750 slaves in one month -- night. the first african-american to represent in the u.s. house of representatives. who represented south carolina's first congressional district, the street -- cs in today -- the seat i sit in today.
what they include for their libraries especially for young elementary school students, no child should be subject to government indoctrination or exposed to radical ideology or they are still building the. foundation of their education. instead we should be building critical thinking skills so they can discern and act on those values with open and frank academic discourse. our high school students should be prepared to enter the workforce when they graduate. i think all the witnesses for appearing today and look forward to a robust discussion on the first amendment, freedom of speech, how together we can work together to preserve that freedom for every single american. ideals back. -- i yield back. >> thank you for the thoughtful statement. before i introduce the witnesses , i want that pan-american release date report this morning find that from july 1 of last year to march 31 of this year
there were 1586 book bands that were implemented across 86 school district and six states. 40 -- 26 states. 22% directly address race and racism. 33% directly address lgbtq issues. that is not a majority, there is. there is traditional targets like catcher in the rye and huckleberry finn and george orwell's 1984. i want to introduce our first panel of witnesses that are high school students and will be testifying, not answering questions. first we have shreya, who is a student from richland washington. and will heal from -- a student from york county penn's venue.
and another student from york county pa. the witnesses will be unmute it so they can be sworn in. please stand and raise your right hand. to use where the testament you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, but nothing but the truth so help you god? let the record reflect that the witnesses have all answered the affirmative. without objection your written statements have been made part of the record. with that, you have been recognized for five minutes of testimony. >> thank you so much. hi, my name is shreya mehta. i'm a senior this year at hanford high school, a public school in eastern washington state. i want to start off by thanking the subcommittee for giving me the opportunity to testify today. it's an honor to be representing the students in our country both as an organizer and as a book lover. >> can you just speak directly into the camera and microphone? as close as you can, because you are fading out a little bit.
>> ok. my district has had minimal outward book challenges, but the internal damages the culture of censorship of bipoc and lgbtq+ voices and stories has caused is immense. i believe the rampant censorship is affecting even more districts than we think and supporting bullying of marginalized students around the country. the rise in book bans has created so much fear that new books and entire classes centering diverse perspectives have been stopped in their tracks. for no other reason than fear of retaliation. i've spoken personally with educators who have been coerced into putting away books with lgbtq+ content or racial equity content. the students have been, collateral damage. just a week ago i went to a school board meeting where they spoke out against gender
equality books. they also missed gendered students. this is why believe that the censorship is in large part tied to a lot of bullying happening. often time thinly veiled racist, homophobic, political statements that impede a students right to intellectual freedom and to embrace their individual identities. i think students should have the right to check out age-appropriate materials. the fact of the matter is that students are facing divisive topics in their everyday life, and the need to know they are not alone in their struggles i keep on asking my self how many people it takes before we can raise a generation of lgbtq plus that are guided and systemically educated to be with understand themselves as well as possible. >> i hate to interrupt you.
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