From Penn Today:
Penn Graduate School of Education Professor Sigal Ben-Porath says these efforts, part of the growing national cultural and political polarization, have a direct effect on free speech and expression, and can help form young peoples’ views of themselves and their place in their communities.
With expertise in the philosophy of education, Ben-Porath studies the ways institutions like schools and colleges can sustain and advance democracy. She is the author of six books, including “Free Speech on Campus” in 2017 and “Making Up Our Mind: What School Choice is Really About” in 2019. Her latest book, “Cancel Wars: How Universities Can Foster Free Speech, Promote Inclusion, and Renew Democracy” will be published in 2023.
Penn Today spoke with Ben-Porath about the implications of book bans and challenges in America, and how institutions of higher education can be involved in solutions.
Q: How are book bans connected to free speech?
Those who are banning or limiting access to books often try to ensure that people don’t think in certain ways, and that they don’t speak in certain ways, or about certain topics. Banning books is an effort to make sure that difficult topics don’t come up, especially in schools. This is an aspect of a broader political and cultural struggle over who belongs, or what values prevail in American society.