Sunday, June 17, 2012

Free speech and censorship

When 9-year-old Martha Payne was told she could no longer take photographs of school dinners for her Never Seconds blog, it didnt't take long for people to sit up and take notice. What right did Argyll and Bute Council have to ban Martha from just taking a few photos at lunch time?

Within hours the Council relented and Martha was told that she could, after all, take the pictures needed for her blog.

A similar free speech U-turn took place in America last week after 10-year-old Kameron Slade won a competition in his class. As a winner Kameron was entitled to make a speech to the whole school, but when the school found out that he intended to present a speech in favour of marriage equality, the principal made clear that Kameron needed to either change the topic or be removed from the contest.

As with Martha Payne, there was a backlash against the ban, and as a result the authorities have said Kameron will, after all, be allowed to speak on his topic of choice. He will deliver his speech on marriage equality at a school assembly tomorrow.

Whereas the school dinner blog U-turn was reported by Newsround on Friday afternoon's TV bulletins, I think it's a very safe bet that there won't be a report about the other U-turn any time soon. Kids who watch CBBC might suspect that their news and entertainment programmes are being unreasonably censored by BBC bosses. So for the benefit of kids in the UK, this is what Kameron will say to his school:

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