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HYPE 2016 focuses on censorship, freedom of expression

Sunday News Correspondent

March 19. 2016 9:57PM
Leaders in journalism spoke at HYPE 2016, held Thursday on the University of New Hampshire's campus. High school students from throughout the state turned out to talk about censorship and the freedom of expression. (Courtesy of Ely Marciano, Souhegan High School)

DURHAM — High school students from all over the Granite State were at the University of New Hampshire on Thursday to hear from a panel of leaders in journalism — including a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist — before participating in a day of student-led Socratic discussion on freedom of expression.

Christopher Brooks, an ethics teacher who started Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts in 2009 at Souhegan High School in Amherst, said they were able to recruit Joel Pett, who received the Pulitzer Prize for cartooning in 2000; Signe’ Wilkinson, who supports international cartoonists through the Cartoonists Rights Network and the Committee to Protect Journalists; Victor Navasky, who wrote a book titled The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power; Jytte Klausen, a frequent commentator on international terrorism for PBS, CNN, and CBC; and Felice Belman, political editor for the Boston Globe, through a partnership with the New Hampshire Humanities.

Klausen told the students that “censorship will censor us from even knowing things are being censored.” That struck a chord with Meghan Rose, a senior at Souhegan High School who is part of the school’s Ethics Forum.

“It’s tue,” Rose said. “Censorship is a large topic and battle that may never be won. Yet, the insight from the panelists provided such a greater understanding of why we need to continue talking about this and other deeply rooted topics.”

Samantha Carlen, who is also on Souhegan’s Ethics Forum, was also struck by Klausen’s message.

“She was telling a story about some of her cartoons that were not able to be published due to censorship, and she wasn’t angry because her rights were being infringed upon, but rather that the rights of the public were. The public was denied access to the information in her cartoons, and didn’t even know it,” Carlen said.

Abbey Christensen, a part of the forum as well, said the things she found most interesting is that the cartoonists discussed how they have to sometimes ask themselves, “Will I get prosecuted or yelled at for this?”

Christensen said when students broke into smaller groups, they talked about how Navasky demonstrated censorship right at the beginning of the day, when they were not allowed to see his cartoon because teachers did not want the students to see it.

“This created a great discussion in my group right from the beginning. It lead to discussion about schools and how they censor sex, drugs and other things to not offend or teach us the wrong thing,” Christensen said.

There were approximately 1,000 students who attended HYPE 2016, and Brooks said the seminars continue to grow every year.

The Souhegan Ethics Forum has also constructively created working relationships with many high schools in the region centering on the mission of enhancing leadership, ethics and philosophy education. Manchester West High School and Spaulding High School in Rochester have become actively involved in leading HYPE’s Socratic seminars as a result of these efforts and the forum continues to add to its coalition of participating high schools, including Bedford, Bishop Guertin, Coe-Brown, Concord, Dover, Farmington, Goffstown, Kittery (Maine), Manchester Memorial, Mascoma, Merrimack, Milford, Nashua North, Noble (Maine), Oyster River, Raymond, Sanborn and Sanford (Maine).

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