Both sides elicited comments from the crowd of 100 students, some who agreed that banning books is diametrically opposed to the intrinsic values of this country.
“We have the right to open discourse,” 17-year-old Sam Levin said. “It is our constitutional right.”
One debater, Sacha Ordelhaide, 16, did not believe most students had an interest in the topic, but felt that debating censorship was important.
“I don’t think most people cared about the issue,” she said. “But the more you educate people, the more they have the opportunity to make decisions.”
The debate hammered home the issue that the freedom to debate controversial books is important, school officials said.
“The nice thing about our country is that you can oppose any book you want,” Dianne Sikkenga, the school’s library media teacher said.
Burroughs was not the only school to honor Banned Books Week. Luther Burbank Middle School’s librarian displayed some of the books that opponents have wanted banned in past years, such as “The Giver.” The book was challenged in 1995 by a Kansas parent concerned about the book’s weighty issues of murder and suicide, Burbank school officials said.
“We have a lot of kids who have very sophisticated views and want to know about why a book is challenged and who has the right to challenge,” said Dana Cobern-Kullman, a librarian at Burbank Middle School.
“The Giver” did not make the list of the American Library Assn.’s 10 most challenged books in 2006, giving way to a more modern crop of novels with edgier themes aimed at young adults, said Judith Krug, director of the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.