Is Censorship Ever Justified?

On May 10, 1933 censorship was being poured out in its fullest extent all over Germany. What is the definition of censorship: the control of information and ideas circulated within a society. It is an occurrence that has been used for centuries: the burning of books. From the Catholic Church burning Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, to new Braille books being burned in Paris in 1842, from the Nazi book burnings, to the comic book burnings in 1948 which occurred in a few states in America. It doesn’t matter the location nor the situation censorship has been and is an issue and will continue to be unless recognized as one. So many governments or dictating powers use censorship to invoke indoctrination. But the only thing that is truly thought provoking, depending on how you look at it, is how well governments or dictating powers manage to enforce censorship so efficiently, so quickly, so prodigiously and all the while keeping it under the rim until the time is right.


But why? Why have censorship at all? What in the world would provoke one to such drastic measures? Greed, power, evil, the truth perhaps? What ideas, can ideas be so threatening that it would be enough of a reason to endorse censorship? In the Nazi’s case books contained information, sometimes information that went against what they were trying to enforce; books helped people think. The Nazi’s didn’t want them to think, they wanted them to be completely oblivious. Books also, sometimes, could have supplied an escape, even though momentary, it was still a second of peace, tranquility and above that… hope. The Nazi’s didn’t want the people to have peace but fear, not tranquility but turmoil, not hope or strength but hopelessness and apathy. When there’s apathy there’s permission. When there’s permission there’s a quicker, faster route to whatever it is the opponent wants. And if they crush everything that offers the slightest bit of life then they get that route and so much more.


During WWII there wasn’t a society there was a dictating, boots stomping up and down your street, held at gun point, shoot first ask questions later, malicious environment. Children were taken from the families at the young age of ten and forced to enlist into a barbaric, brain washing program known as Hitler Youth. Millions were imprisoned in concentration camps and then murdered in various ways. You couldn’t even trust your neighbor in fear of being tracked, stalked, or investigated for skeptical behavior! I feel obligated to tell you that the society did not solely dictate what was and what was not available to the public, in some respect the public dictated what was available to themselves. They completely locked themselves in denial when they finally did figure out what was going on. They could not believe that their beloved Germany could have done what was being said it did. However, I am not denying the fact that the wrecked governmental injunction played a part in the putting in place the blinders. Should a government or society be allowed to control what the public knows? The answer is no. The reason is: Government and society are made up of public people; if the people are uninformed then their role in government and/or society will never be able to operate correctly.


The definition of the word weapon is: a device designed to injure or kill, something used to gain an advantage. Books are to be used to educate and education is knowledge and knowledge is power. The Nazi’s didn’t want the people to have knowledge or power, if the people had power that meant that they wouldn’t. In regards to whether or not offensive material should be burned or banned, firstly, what the Nazi’s burned was not offensive material it was merely information which they were trying to prevent the people from knowing. If it were truly offensive material it would most likely be better to burn, completely erase, the material. However, by banning material you are allowing the possible return of the material, perhaps at a different time the material will be less offensive. There is no right or wrong answer to that question. It is merely a matter of opinion. In my opinion, yes, books are weapons, probably one of the most lethal weapons out there and no matter the circumstance I believe that it is out of societies and/or the government’s power to ban or burn anything that belongs to the public. So is censorship ever justified? No, because everyone has the right to know, to learn, to think.





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