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Published:February 12th, 2006 05:39 EST


By SOP newswire2

Too often, people assume that a Bible study among senior citizens is a "safe space`.  In order to shed light on this common stereotype, I would recommend observing my grandmother in action.  

In terms of politics, my grandma is a self-proclaimed liberal, who is far from satisfied with the state of the world.  Let`s just say George W. Bush does not want to encounter her in a dark alley, ever.  Now, if National security feels that this statement is a terrorist threat, and would like to wire tap her phone, I just want to wish them good luck enduring Granny`s hour long conversations about why the T.V. remote continues to perplex her. 

Legitimately religious in nature, my grandmother never intended on allowing her theological and ideological temperaments to collide during bible study.  Still, flabbergasted by a flood of culturally conservative individuals, my grandmother found herself in quite the tense environment.  This only evolved into an atmosphere more tumultuous and fragmented than Ted Kennedy at a NASCAR race. 

No, Granny did not cower, concede, or even candy-coat her objections to her peers` perspectives.  This resulted in what could only be described as a church-lady-verbal smack-down, only complicated by a complete lack of censorship on each side, perhaps a result of subsequent senility.  Over the years, my grandma gained quite the reputation for her bible-study-brawls, but more importantly became known for candidly expressing any and all off her thoughts.  

It is fairly common, though not always flattering, for individuals to become products of their upbringing, and I am far from an exception.  Simply put, I come from a long line of trouble makers.  Even as a toddler, it was apparent that my brain was missing a common tool used in personal censorship.  As a result, baby-Lauren`s first words consisted of "mamma`, "dadda`, and a wide variety of expletives.  Although I have learned to censor myself under vital circumstances, to say my filter is sub-par would be a significant understatement. 

A filter is a figurative safety net that allows individuals to separate private thoughts from the audible world.  It protects, yet limits.  It encourages tolerance, yet discourages dialogue.  The intent is justifiable, while the outcome is far more complicated.   

I am not suggesting that we abandon all verbal inhibitions and offend at each opportune moment.  However, I cannot deny the fact that our society has developed an unhealthy filtration fixation, all to appear politically correct. In areas ranging from our government to education, we have grown far too dependent on these filters.  In doing this, we fail to realize that in our attempts for censorship vital information is also at risk of being filtered out in the process.  Consequently, we are limiting our capacity to adapt to diverse environments and ingraining a mentality, which suggests that consensus and respect are synonymous.

It would be presumptuous to say that filters are culturally specific to Americans only.

Internationally, censorship appears to impact a wide variety of cultures, all with the same objective: to minimize opposition and conflict.  China in particular, has recently become the poster child for such filtration-methods, with their recent, amended version of  While this filter censors arbitrary s[e]x sites, it also alters search results pertaining to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, failing to include sources that support western ideologyThis version of the popular search engine not only blocks certain websites, but it neglects to inform the user that their search results are censored in the first place.  Overall, this censorship only narrows views within our society and the perspectives of cultures throughout the world; and thus, it only contributes to a greater misunderstanding among the international community. 

In terms of the political process, filters have become progressively more prominent in our electoral process.  Since the overall objective is to gain office, many candidates avoid being tied to certain controversial stances.  The end goal is to appear moderate, regardless of how far from the middle a politician falls ideologically. As a result, voters are in many cases basing key choices on rhetoric and charisma, and fail to consider relevant information.  In the end, both democrats and republicans become stifled, yet neither end of the spectrum fully understands why. 

Filters have also, ironically, contaminated our education system.  Considering measures taken, such as bans on books, censorship plays a significant role on various learning environments.  Recently, a unanimous vote from a countywide Citizen Advisory Committee in Annapolis Maryland, urged a local high school administration to consider removing Maya Angelou`s notable poem I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings " from the ninth-grade curriculum.  Broadneck High School administrators decided to compromise by sending home a disclaimer to the parents, and taking a different approach on presenting Angelou`s works, rather than completely eliminating them.  Though the committee was not completely successful in advancing their agenda, it is still a cause for alarm.   

When I was in high school, teachers would stress the fact that they were preparing me for the real world ".  In all actuality, censoring significant works of literature severely inhibits our ability to function in adulthood.  Throughout high school, I was taught how to simply tolerate subjects that catalyzed a strong reaction.  I did not learn how to form my own opinions, or how to educate myself about those stances, from the public or private school systems.  I learned it from my grandmother. 

Filters are for water, not personalities, and if I were to dilute my character in order to evade subjects deemed controversial, my grandmother would take serious issue with me.  Tolerance is a word that, in many cases, gives way to positive connotations; still, the concept of simply coexisting fails to leave room for growth.  Yes, it is favorable when people do not persecute each other for divergent opinions, but I cannot help but continue to ponder that if we completely ignore differing perspectives in the process, how much are we actually learning from each other?  Absorbing information that challenges our belief systems is a crucial part of forming educated opinions. 

Though I have by no means progressed to the optimum point of adulthood, I look forward to exposing myself to a wide range of perspectives.  I do not intend to censor my opinions, and I welcome any opposition, at anytime.  Still, I must warn my adversaries: you will have to get through my granny first.