Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The "C" Word......

Books won't stay banned.  They won't burn.  Ideas won't go to jail.  In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost.  The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.  ~Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959


Censorship sucks...okay now I can concentrate and continue this like an adult. As I was writing my blog on Judy Blume in was shocked to see how censored she was. What was even more interesting to me was that on her website she has a section on censorship. It appears that censorship movement has really become organized and able to actually have a legal impact only in the last 20 years. It moved out of the fringe and has been very successful at achieving their goals. That is potentially one of the more frustrating and sad discoveries for me.


I blame this on both sides of the fence.  Though an easier target, due to their lack of tolerance, the extreme Right has found a partner in censorship in the extreme Left.  These groups feel they can decide for us what we should read, listen to and believe.  The Left does this under the guise of political correctness (Mark Twain books come to mind).  Golda Meir brilliantly said 
"One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present."
  The Right censors under moral indignation.  Interesting, this same group that shouts as loudly as possible at how big government needs to be abolished, how they do not want government in their lives seems to have no issue with pulling out the lawmaker card to dictate what can be read, seen, heard, felt. They try to push their principles on everyone else with every arm of the government that they can get their claws in.  They imply that if we do not agree it is un-American while I think I am most American when I speak up.  Here is a little news flash for both sides let us be the judges of what we want to read, let us speak with our children of how to make the best decisions in life. Let us take responsibility for our actions and teach our children to do the same. 



Americans are not the only ones guilty of this, but as I live here I will only concentrate where I can vote.  I am a child whose family uprooted and left a place where even a joke could get you thrown in jail (true story happened to my father's cousin).  We left behind the place where your thoughts had to reflect only what the government deemed appropriate.  It makes me shudder to read of these types of crusades in my chosen land of freedom.  That Communist system, in all the countries it oppressed, left behind a legacy of distrust, of corruption, and a serious brain drain.  It offends me that there are groups out there who think they are far superior in their knowledge of what we need, often without every asking us.  Their lack of respect for our ability to make decisions is dangerous. Their ability to decide for us frightening. I was all righteous indignation when I first thought of writing this and then realized I struggle with this a lot.  Think of websites where they call for death and destruction, where they embrace hatred, books that diminish people because of their sex, who they love, who they are.....they appeal generally to the disenfranchised, the poor, the ones without hope. Rather than censor I wish I could eliminate those things so these sites would lose their appeal but until then do we have to collectively decide to shut these down?  When am I a hypocrite or when is it common sense? 


The worst part of censorship is the fact that it makes people afraid, fearful to create something that may get banned, labeled, shunned.  Censorship was dominant in the era that we now refer to as the Dark Ages, always during dictatorships, during the McCarthy era, usually it gets toppled but only when people stand up and say "enough". This type of censorship and domination by a few is now toppling the Middle East governments who employ it. I will not be fearful to ask who the hell are you to tell me what to do? I will not be fearful to ask any questions....that is the death of democracy and progress.  Most of all do not censor your beliefs through apathy....

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.  For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.  ~John F. Kennedy

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