Banning Books: Censorship, Parental Rights, and the Future of Intellectual Curiosity

Over the past few years, public school boards and state governments across the United States have been restricting specific books from being taught in their classrooms or circulating in school libraries. Books about sexual identity, sexual activity, gender identity, and racial identity have been especially targeted. Reacting to or instigating parental concerns, local and state politicians have advocated close scrutiny of certain books, and in some places book burnings have resulted. Many contend that these assaults on books are politically motivated censorship, fuel a culture war, and drive an unnecessary moral panic.

Amidst this ongoing debate, might the First Amendment and its guarantee of Free Speech offer some wisdom on how to navigate these issues? Is there a line to be drawn somewhere between censorship and parental rights?

Panelists include Timothy Anderson, Republican member, Virginia House of Delegates; Jonathan Evison, author of Lawn Boy, New York Times Bestseller; Nadine Farid Johnson, managing director, PEN America, Washington, D.C.; and Rosemary Kilkenny, vice president for institutional diversity and equity, Georgetown University.

Recorded October 3, 2022.