At the beginning of the course, the interview portion of this project was one of my biggest concerns. Not only did I fear not being able to find a professional in a topic area relevant to our case, I also thought people would not be willing to give up their valuable time to answer my questions for nothing in return. To my pleasant surprise, the professors I reached out to were not only willing, but excited, to be involved.
For the first interview I spoke with Dr. Patricia Ard, Professor of Literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Right from the start of the interview, Dr. Ard was adamant that censorship of students is wrong. She was particularly supportive of allowing children to read Philip Pullman’s books.
When you have a fabulous writer like Philip Pullman, who creates fantastic fantasies, with children in charge–it’s a crime to try to censor him. His books are gateways to every other kind of book a child will eventually read.
She draws a line in the sand about reading a book by an atheist and becoming an atheist oneself. Clearly, they are not the same. Dr. Ard has a lot more to say about this topic, and also ties in author Judy Blume. Click here to view the interview in its entirety.
For the second interview I spoke with Dr. Aaron Herold, assistant Professor of Political Science at SUNY Geneseo. Although we provided Dr. Herold with a list of questions, he preferred to write a more general statement rather than address each specific one. In his opening statement, Dr. Herold mentions he has minimal prior knowledge of the specific case of censorship we are discussing, which should not retract from his ability to comment on censorship as a professor.
I really liked a lot of Dr. Herold’s comments, but perhaps my favorite was the following:
We generally wouldn’t use the term “censorship” to describe the actions of a parent who won’t allow a ten year old to watch an R rated movie, or to read a disturbing but true book about the Holocaust—any more than we would blame a parent for not feeding steak to a baby. I say this because it’s important to keep in mind that when books are removed from school libraries, those doing the removing generally believe they’re acting in this manner.
This quote puts parents in the limelight, not only for being the gatekeepers, but also as protectors of their babies. Later in the interview, Dr. Herold says that parents have unquestionable rights. Since their intentions are to create healthy adults, then perhaps their judgement is sound after all. Well, I guess that depends on who you ask! Dr. Herold also covers some interesting things about the legality of censorship. Click here to view the interview in its entirety.
Although I was nervous about this segment of the project, I think it will turn out to be one of the most interesting pages on the website. It offers perspectives of censorship from two uniquely qualified individuals. I really wanted some video content, but communicating by email was just more efficient. Overall, the high quality of the answers will prove more important than the medium they are in.