It has always been that Tyrants, Monarchs and religions have censored materials and people they have disagreement with. Throughout history though, censorship has consistently been initiated under some other guise, supposedly for the benefit of those restricted from becoming acquainted with the said material.
Cries of ‘save the children‘ one of the favourites, ‘halt the moral decay‘ or accusations of ‘blasphemy‘ accompany every book or people burning event and every assault on intellectual property that should be held in common.
Apart from contemporary considerations, those pretentious enough to believe their role in life is to filter information released to the ‘masses’, are blinded to historical reality. To be a censor one must disregard the easily available knowledge that censorship is widely used and that it is similarly widely abused.
As there is no definitive way to know if one is abusing, a human problem seen in others and not in self, then it follows, the censors are primed to be acting against the interests of present and posterity always.
We recognise and are repulsed by the Taliban’s destruction of the ancient Buddhist statues by firing live rounds at them and the thousands of missing scrolls lost in the destruction of the great Library of Alexandria. We mourn for the lives of the ‘alleged’ witches, burnt to death to quieten heresy and we sadly ponder what it must have been like to have been a ‘pagan’ savage forcefully parted from their world-view.
Such overt examples should be a warning to us. Lesser than these efforts manufactured by the powerful and the righteous are just as dangerous and deny the future what are present expressions of consciousness. Any degree should not be tolerated by societies classifying themselves as civilised.
Democracies thrive on contention and not suppression. The supposed dangers of not censoring such and such are generally based on advantage to a ruler or religion and have nothing to do with the false reality of some kind of social protection. This is always overstated. Generally speaking, the censor is so culturally or religiously brainwashed as to not be in any position to be making decisions for the majority. The bias they hold disallows for that.
Exposure of any preconception in the censor adjudication process is of paramount importance to a smooth running, just and equality based democracy.
There is not one human alive capable of justifiably claiming authority in being the ethical arbiter and spokes-person for the rest. We should therefore disallow one, or a small unrepresentative number, to rule over our access to new experiences.
No one should be forced to come into contact with information not wished for but no one should be denied information just to support a particular view. Other laws govern the young and any miscreant behaviour by adults. If they are not adequate, then that has to be shown to be true and if so, new laws investigated.
History should be our teacher in this. Numerous books that are read common place now were once banned by the censorship of the day. (See below links) Many have been lost to us for ever.
It is not the free spirited seeker of information we are to be a feared of, it is those whose minds that have already been shackled without their knowledge who are the enemy to peace and harmony. For it is they who, in their attempts to censorial shackle us, are the real and present danger.
By David Nicholls