“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.” Mark Twain
“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.” Christopher Hitchens
“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. In the long run it will create a generation incapable of appreciating the difference between independence of thought and subservience.” Henry Steele Commager
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” ― Benjamin Franklin
“This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.” Euripides
“You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.” John Morley
How about you? Any feelings on censoring books, people or the internet? Should thought ever be punished?
Featured Image: The Travelling Companions by Augustus Leopold Egg – 1862
13 responses to “6 Great Quotes About Censorship”
Calling out fire when there is none? We need no rules if we are a society of one. To pretend that each of us lives in a society of one nearly always means that someone has their boot on someone else’s back. Some behaviors must be censored. Thanks for prompting to think.
Some behaviors need to be outlawed and that’s what laws are for. Censoring only sends these behaviors under ground. Do we really think kids aren’t being sexually abused if it’s not allowed on the internet?
I think my real concern is that people are unable to accept that there is a possibility that others can still be decent humans despite having different opinions. Humility is still key. I welcome opinions and weird theories because so many times in history weird, unpopular theories turned out to be the answers to problems. My fear is that people do so little research or self examination that they become combustible balls of emotion. The ideas of free speech and free society only work when people are taught that humility is a virtue worth pursuing. Only then can you reasonably discuss things with others. Raw emotion is NOT a virtue. 😉
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I certainly think that censorship has a place and when people get all righteous about it I feel one only has to mention child porn to win that argument. But as we are all well aware, the internet and even the traditional print media is awash with slander, libel and lies – is freedom of speech really a good enough argument to justify the kind of propaganda that leads to dictatorship… or the bullying that drives people to commit suicide? I think not. The difficult question of course is where should the line be drawn and who should be trusted to draw it, in an age when unfortunately even supposedly educated people seem to have lost the ability to censor themselves…
Thanks for your input! I really appreciate everyone’s opinions. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I would say that the problem isn’t so much child porn being on the internet as people being interested in sex with children in general. And in some sub-cultures sex with minors is seen as okay– not in my world, to be clear.
Just as most people agree that murder is wrong, we have no problem watching tons of murders in television shows and video games that glamorize it. I for one find people on the internet calling for the deaths of people they disagree with a sign of a culture that has failed to educate its people in the art of constructive argument. I find in myself a danger when I run on raw emotion versus exploring the facts of an issue. The rare people who are not threatened by disagreement should be held as heroes to emulate!
In general I think censorship is not the answer to the many problems of the world. Protecting ourselves from things that make us uncomfortable or angry can lead to apathy or cowardice in the face of real evil.
I think self-censoring can also lead to a fear of standing up for oneself and others. Maybe a better thing would be to teach civility and self-discipline. 🙂
I guess I would counter the propaganda of government argument with the countries that suppress free speech as a part of their dictatorial rule. Usually in those places and times there are plenty of people willing to turn in their neighbors for “offensive” speech. A brief survey of history or the teachers’ lunch rooms in the places I’ve taught highlights that people have slandered and lied as part of the flawed human condition since the beginning of recorded time so I feel we can hardly rely on the educated classes to somehow know where to draw the line when it comes to speech.
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Who determines what is appropriate behavior, appropriate reading, viewing or speaking/ hearing? I am more against the ones who deem another’s expression hateful or valueless, and want it quashed. I will turn away or disapprove quietly. Just don’t make my children exposed against parental will, or my own views worth less than someone I don’t agree with. I use a standard for behavior that fewer and fewer accept. Very complicated.
Agree!!! We pretty much have a media blackout at home for our foster daughter who was exposed to so much at a young age. It was very enlightening to see the world through her eyes. The culture is extremely sexualized and I had become immune to it. To see how it affects a kid in real time–wow. But I feel the responsibility is with the parents. Internet access is not a right for children (though the school system seems to think so).
I don’t have enough faith in any man or woman being wise enough to censor the world “properly.”
People should be encouraged to read The Gulag Archipelago — when they think of quashing opinions. Super scary!
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People should be encouraged to read. Really read. Possibly not trash…
Oh, so true! And hope fully really old books too so that we see that human nature has not changed much and we are all sadly in this thing together. It’s not about one tribe or the other!
bravo for your efforts on behalf of your family. I agree. Scary. I visited the USSR in its last years – not a model I want to emulate. And not the present whitewashed secular socialism of Europe either.
A great set of quotes, Adrienne.
Thank you for this reminder. (I am a great advocate of the First Amendment!) 😉
ME TOO! I’m less afraid of being offended than having voices snuffed out. Ideas are important–even ones we’d rather not hear. Glad you’re an advocate too. 🙂
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Yep. The only thing that really offends me is stupidity. Such a waste of human brains. and on the rise too. 🙂
Like I said, I love the First amendment. The writing is perfect: concise and accurate. The essential said in but a few words. 🙂 I always believed the fathers of the Revolution, Franklin, Jefferson, Washington et al. must have been well-read. They probably read/spoke French, Latin assuredly. They had to have read the English and French philosophers of the 18th century.
So, long live the First.
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