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I heartily agree with those who assert that we should not censor our
selection of course materials in college classes because some student might
find some element of the content offensive.  Art is often offensive (as
Anthony Burgess put it, in responding to controversy over "A Clockwork
Orange," "Art is dangerous.").  I think there is an important corollary
point.  Students should be encouraged to voice criticisms of the movies and
literature we teach; I trust that most of us do encourage critical responses
rather than putting venerated texts on a pedestal.  We should encourage the
wary student to challenge the values of a potentially offensive work in
class discussion, rather than trying to avoid encountering disturbing
material or chastizing the teacher for not censoring it.  Too often, when
students say they are offended, they haven't thought through the issues
about what actually offends them (e.g., a student is offended by a criminal
or racist or misogynist character who is not being endorsed by the text).
Strong student responses are, on the whole, a good thing if we can use them
as teaching opportunities and not as reasons to foreclose discussion.
Having said that we should not censor potentially offensive material (which
is, after all, virtually everything), I would add that we should respect the
diversity of opinion in our classes (political, religious, aesthetic) when
it emerges.

Chris Ames
Agnes Scott College

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Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
http://www.tcf.ua.edu/ScreenSite