Fight Censorship

Want to take matters into your own hands? Here are a few tips on how to fight censorship, engage with people trying to censor, and find more people who are on your side.

Write letters

  • Send a letter to local newspapers and magazines, or write an “op-ed” article. Such letters are important even if they don’t get printed.
  • Write letters to any and all public officials involved in the situation, including the mayor, city council, and other city officials, superintendent of schools and school board members, members of the library board, state education officials, and anyone else you can think of. Urge them not to give in to pressures for suppression. Say you look forward to learning their views. Find your local representative on this website.

Get out there

  • Attend school board, library board, and PTA meetings and raise the issue. Talk about the importance of free speech to education and democratic institutions. Bring your friends to voice their support. 
  • Start a petition or letter-writing campaign. Organize a local anti-censorship group, and publicize your activities on the Internet.
  • Spread the word online: start a Facebook group, a blog, a Twitter account to connect your friends to the issues you care about and to find other people who share your concerns.

Connect with local supporters

  • Work with community groups, especially professional and civic organizations, and religious groups, to call attention to the problem. Inform members of groups about the situation, hold a public meeting, put an article in the organization’s bulletin, website, or newsletter, and solicit support from the organization’s leadership.
  • If the censorship incident is in a school, get affected parents and students involved. If a teacher is targeted for criticism because s/he used "controversial" materials, it is particularly important to support the teacher—if you ever expect any other teachers to stick their necks out in the future. Circulate a petition in support of the teacher or the materials. Solicit help and support from other teachers and educators. If the school has a teacher’s union, such as the National Education Association (NEA) or American Federation of Teachers (AFT), seek their help.

Connect with organizations

  • Reach out to other organizations which may have an interest in free speech issues, such as reproductive rights groups like Planned Parenthood, the local ACLU affiliate, organizations concerned with human rights, organizations of writers and artists, theater arts groups, etc., and seek their support and assistance. If you are in a college or university town, seek help from the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
  • Many of NCAC’s participating organizations can assist you in fighting specific forms of censorship. For example, the National Council of Teachers of English has resources to defend the pedagogical value of commonly challenged materials and suggested techniques for avoiding and defending a challenge. The Student Press Law Center can assist with censorship involving student expression. The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and PEN American Center defend against book censorship. The National Education Association has resources defending free speech as an essential aspect of education, and the American Library Association deals with all aspects of library censorship. The American Association of School Administrators, the American Jewish Congress, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have materials on religion in the public schools. Many more resources are available. For a complete list of, and links to, NCAC participating organizations, click here.

Connect with NCAC


Remember:
defending someone’s right to speak doesn’t mean you agree with what they say. Defending the right to read a particular book, or view a work of art or a film, doesn’t mean you like it or agree with its message. Recognizing that others have different views about art, politics, literature and religion, and that their views are entitled to the same respect and protection as your own, is a form of tolerance required of all in a pluralistic society.