Two recent cases in the US, one in Virginia the other in New Jersey, of parents censoring reading lists ought to cause concern among people who assign readings to students and who support a Miltonic view of truth-telling. The parents protesting in Virginia and New Jersey have already forgotten the principle upheld by the Supreme Court in March in a decision that was not close (8-1). To appreciate further the impact of Justice Roberts’ quotation below substitute “literature” where he mentions “speech.”
“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.