Censorship of The Golden Compass at Halton Catholic School District gained international attention from the media, thus contributing to subsequent complaints about the text in other areas. The media got word of the complaints at Halton even before the case was reviewed by the committee, thus exacerbating the division between anti and pro-censorship parties. Early knowledge of the challenging allowed the commotion surrounding the case to grow and gave more people the time to voice their opinions before the decision was reached.
The sheer amount of media coverage was extensive. Halton Catholic School District oversees 57 Catholic educational institutions and over 30,000 students, therefore the gates were opened for a flood of opinions (Welcome). As we conducted our research, certain patterns became evident within the countless number of reports we read. Most support for leaving the novel in schools came from persons outside Halton. In fact, we were unable to find any statements from parents who defended the book at Halton, so we presume most comments were demands to remove The Golden Compass. Some school board members did advise not censoring the book, but they were outnumbered by those who thought it undermined the district’s values. That being said, Pullman does have a very loyal fan base that publicly supported his work. The majority of book reviews praised Pullman as an author. Contrariwise, the movie was a disappointment for true fans due to the omission of the anti-Catholic content and much of the plot. It is clear that the media did publicize a lot information about the case and Pullman, but the question remains if it influenced the results of the case.
Based on the our analysis of the media’s involvement in this case of censorship, we could draw some conclusions. (1) There are both positive and negative opinions of the book, and Pullman himself. Clearly, the massive church-based organizations have a very large impact, especially considering their principles align with the majority of the Halton community. This could have contributed to the outcome of the case. Even for adults, mob mentality and peer pressure could have persuaded them to lobby against the book, when under other circumstances they would have remained neutral. (2) We can never say for certain that the media swayed the school board’s vote. Both sides made good efforts to showcase their reasoning. Despite the impact of such Catholic organizations, many anti-censorship individuals spoke out and shared their reasoning as to why the book should remain at Halton. Those who fought to keep the book at Halton may have lost, but there were additional challenges of this text that did not yield the same result.
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