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Censorship, or "What I Know That You Shouldn't"

(Part 2 of "The New Medieval Period")

Censorship (n) - the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient".

One of the most egregious lies that we continue to tell American children is that "America is 'the land of the free'". It isn't; not by a long shot, and some could argue that it never really was. I think that it could more accurately be described as "the land of 'the comfortable' (as long as you believe what I believe)", but that won't easily fit onto a bumper sticker. One of the great philosophical axioms is that people will do more to avoid something that they fear than they will to acquire something that they like, so the question that I have is, "what the hell is everybody so afraid of?"

"All this time we're talking and sharing our rational views, a billion other voices are spreading other news."

Here in Texas, the Karens and Richards, helicopter parents, or simply anyone who believes that they hold some form of moral, ethical, or proprietary high-ground are all taking the idea of rampant censorship out for a spin to see what they can make it do. Never mind that most of these people couldn't figure out how to operate the Tilt-a-Whirl at the traveling carnival, or are absolutely convinced that "diction" (the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing) is some sort of sort of degenerate sado-masochistic trip. Granted that in many parts of our great state, the riposte "f--k you!" will get them a seat at the local Algonquin Round Table, but to my way of thinking, none of these give sufficient reason for anyone to believe that they have a mandate to determine what should - and should not - be said or read, or by whom.

"All this time we're living and trying to understand why a billion other choices are making their demands."

So now, here's what I suggest: go out and exercise your freedom by doing something that they fear. Buy (or even just read) a banned book. You can visit the ALA website to check out their list of top 100 most banned and challenged books (2010-2019), then stop by a library or a bookstore and pick one up.

And to all of the Karens and Richards, helicopter parents, and moral/ethics/proprietary high-grounders, yes, you (as an adult) have a perfect right to determine what you and your children are able to read, to see, or to hear. What you don't have the right to do is to determine what anyone else (including anyone else's children) are able to read, see, or hear. And if you still think that you do have that right, then you're probably better off voting for someone else.

"Dream of a Peaceable Kingdom, dream of a time without war. The ones we wish could hear us have heard it all before."


Some Justifications for Censorship

So, why do people (not just politicians) resort to censorship? Well, there are a few different rationales that proponents have given to justify the censorship of materials:

  • Moral censorship - the removal of materials that are obscene or considered morally questionable (without actually defining what constitutes obscenity or moral questionability).
  • Military censorship - the process of keeping military intelligence and tactics confidential and away from an enemy (despite the probability that any reasonably intelligent enemy has already considered that intelligence or those tactics).
  • Political censorship - where governments hold back information from its citizens, often to exert control over the populace and to prevent free expression that might foment rebellion.
  • Religious censorship - where any material that is considered objectionable by a certain religion is removed, usually by a dominant regional religion thus forcing limitations on less prevalent ones, but also by shunning the works of another religion when they believe its contents are not appropriate for its religion.
  • Corporate censorship - where editors in corporate media outlets intervene to disrupt the publishing of information that might portray their business or business partners negatively or intervene to prevent alternative offers from reaching public exposure.

However, despite any reasoning that censorship's proponents use to justify their actions, ALL of these justifications are derived from fear. To make themselves comfortable in the sometimes chaotic world around them, they have resorted to not just "avoiding what they fear", but also wanting you to avoid what they fear (even if it doesn't scare you).

"All this time we're hoping and praying we all might learn while a billion other teachers are teaching them how to burn."


Why "Censorship Laws" Never Work

In 1960, Penguin Books Ltd (U.K.) wanted to publish the D.H. Lawrence novel "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (first published in 1928, so it had been around for a while) but encountered the U.K.'s "Obscene Publications Act of 1959". The Kingdom sued the publisher to prevent wide-spread publication of the book. During the trial, another noted British author, E.M. Forster, who was a staunch opponent of censoring material on the grounds that it might be considered obscene or immoral, raised the subjectivity of both obscenity and morality as constantly changing.

"Lady Chatterley's Lover is a literary work of importance… I do not think that it could be held obscene, but I am in a difficulty here. The reason is that I have never been able to follow the legal definition of obscenity. The law tells me that obscenity may deprive and corrupt, but as far as I know, it offers no definition of depravity or corruption."

Eventually, the publisher was found "not guilty" by the British jury, and publication of the novel became widespread.

Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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