This series is infrequent, but worth revisiting. It’s been almost two years since it was initiated. It’s not for lack of lies that there hasn’t been a new entry. If anything, it’s the difficulty in culling from the vast and growing selection. Blame the Internet.
Today’s lie is:
We can’t/shouldn’t/don’t censor.
We censor all the time. And it’s often the right thing to do. Like the argument I made in an earlier post about legislating morality, the controversy isn’t whether we should – we can, we do, we should – it’s where we draw the line.
Libraries censor in the sense that they don’t put blatant pornography on the shelves. Corporations censor their employees’ access to certain internet sites. Schools ban all sorts of religious materials based on an interpretation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Ironically, that same clause is meant to prevent censorship.
We’ve drawn lines. They have to go somewhere, otherwise white supremacists and other assorted lunatics could force their particular brand of evil to be displayed in the libraries and taught in schools. I reserve the right to make my opinions known regarding where those lines should be. That’s my First Amendment right.
For better or worse, the lines keep moving just as our morality does. Thus, classic books such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” have been banned at times, along with a lot of literature that for whatever reason elicited someone’s ire somewhere along the line. In fact, the most banned book worldwide throughout history is the Bible. Not surprising since it’s such a dangerous book. Or should be.
So be thankful that we have at least some sort of censorship sanity. But beware the moving line. Over the years, everyone tries to move it according to their own agenda. While the political Right takes most of the heat for censorship, the Left has no better track record. The late Ray Bradbury said as much when he ranted about his opinions on and experience with censorship in a coda to his brilliant “Fahrenheit 451”, maybe the best literary treatment of the topic. He said:
There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italian/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib/Republican, Mattachine/Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse.
There’s a lot of drivel out there not suitable for public consumption. Most of it is self-censored because it’s just so much crap. But we must be ever vigilant to prevent that line from moving to some dangerous place beyond common sense.