Defensive….or defenseless?

By Wendy Wohlfeill

I have to agree with the few classroom blogs I have already read on the subject. In our small group, at least, there were plenty of slightly awkward moments–the three of us (Me, Devin and Sarah) looking at one another. “That’s right….right?”, one of us would say to the other.

Not only did it become glaringly obvious that none of us knew much about Russia (nothing at all really), but we were also finding it hard to answer their simple questions about American journalism. Which is the subject we all hope to become “masters” of in less than two months time.

What really threw us off, were the accusations concerning Freedom of Speech. Of course, it’s not that we don’t know the subject matter, but instead,  I think we were taken back by the questions they asked. One gentlemen in particular seemed very convinced that we were all living in a “La La Land” of press freedom. After pointing out (to the translator of course) a few recent situations in the states where press freedom didn’t ring true, we were lost.

I hadn’t heard of a book being banned from store room shelves because it contained recent war information.

Again we all stared at each other.

I think I mustered up, “that doesn’t really happen here,” before again looking to my classmates for reassurance.

The group of six men in suits stared at us, waiting for an explanation.

Sarah asked,” In a library….maybe?”

No, he was sure it was banned from stores, and recently, the translator continued.


I was surprised to find myself feeling quite defensive……..and defenseless.

Unfortunately from that conversation in particular, I’m pretty sure the Russian politician left believing that freedom of speech in the U.S is just a facade, and we, the students, are none the less wise to it.

At home, I Googled his accusation and found that the last book banned in the United States was in 1963—for obscenity.

I don’t think that tid-bit of information would have been helpful in my conversation with him anyways.





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