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Thoughts On Censorship

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Rather jejune is the notion that the dissemination of controversial or threatening ideas through the written word could be stemmed with censorship. Unencumbered by societal expectations and law, the mind runs free with all sorts of ideas—the more provocative, the more likely to pique the interest of readers, and therefore be published. And the more backlash against a certain text, the more enticing the prospect of casting an eye over that forbidden text, similar to Eve consuming the famed apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Books are not banned; rather, ideas are banned, a truly impossible feat. Controversial ideas advanced through books should never be walled off, but thrown out into the open to be scrutinized, critiqued, and debated among societies.
Censorship is the game adults play with children in order to isolate them from the perceived ‘corrupting’ influence of the outside world: war, gender roles, sex, death, violence, drugs, the LGBTQ+ community, crude language, graphic experiences, illness, etc. What parents and school districts do not fully consider is that the whole world is composed of controversial ideas that cannot be walled up, cannot be locked away. It’s inevitable that children will be exposed to all of these ideas that at some point break into their minds, no matter the source.
Difficult topics are better faced through literature first rather than first-hand experience. Consider the novel “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, banned from several schools for aspects of the main characters and their relationships, one of which would be a non-gratuitous sex scene. The cancer-stricken couple in the text provoke deep reflection on the roles of love and death in the readers’ lives. Sex is often a taboo topic fraught with extraordinary significance, and banning books that engender complex thought about the subject does not eliminate the fact of its pervasiveness in human life. Developing simplistic ideas about this topic based only on what one views in mainstream media, learns from peers and experiences may prove detrimental.
The repercussions of widespread censorship of written material in the adult world can perhaps be even more destructive. An example some may cite as evidence for the necessity of censorship—Nazi propaganda—in reality supports the idea of free speech. In Nazi Germany the content put forth by the media was constructed to pervert perceptions of the Jewish people, which was achieved with censorship of material suggesting the contrary. Arguments for the control of information focus on the potential good of censorship, rather than its venomous power to incite some of the greatest tragedies and horrors of human history. The ability to control information is significant for any individual, organization, or government to have a hand in.
Freedom to spread information, particularly through books, should be protected at all costs.    Whether that means removing influential books from the shelf of a middle school in the California suburbs or silencing the opposition to government-devised ideas, censorship is powerful—information is powerful. There’s no good reason for censorship that would alleviate well-justified fears about the bad.






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