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The Dangers of Censorship


Censorship can be a pretty sensitive issue when it comes to media. Censorship is when a group, community, or some form of authority impose their values by stopping ideas from reaching the general public.

Films, television, and other forms of visual media have always been subject to very meticulous censorship. However, books have also been challenged a lot by various groups. Book censorship is prevalent even where free speech is strong.

Every country has different policies in place when it comes to censorship, often brought about by the notion of obscenity. Materials about sex, drugs, violence, racism, and social standing are often subject to varying degrees of censorship. Governments also implement censorship when they feel contradicted or criticized.

Censorship has been alive as early as 399 BC and has been implemented in different ways. Socrates, for example, was sentenced to death by drinking poison for “corrupting his students.” In 1949, two buy modafinil classics were banned in New York for “engendering hatred of the Jew as a person and as a race.” These books were Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Dickens’s Oliver Twist. The Catholic Church also had a list of banned books starting in 1559, but the practice stopped in 1966. Book-burning, or the ceremonious destruction of written material, was also historically popular.

Over the years, many literary works managed to shape society despite the challenges brought about by censorship. As with everything else, interest grew for books which were banned. The Bible and the Qu’ran, two of the most banned written materials in the world, remain very popular. Time Magazine released a list of the most banned books of all time. Included were Candide by Voltaire, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1984 by George Orwell, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Anarchist Handbook by William Powell, and the Harry Potter canadian pharmacy series by JK Rowling. All these books remain popular and widely read today.

To this day, there are still governments that ban books on account of beliefs, values, and criticisms. As a matter of fact, the United States is still notorious for constantly challenging books, attempting to remove materials because of objections by a person or a group of persons. So while book banning has mostly taken a backseat, challenges are still quite popular.

In the United States alone, a total of 6,364 books were reported to have been challenged in between 1990 and 2000, 71% of which were materials from schools and 24% of which were materials from public libraries. The challenges were made by parents (60%), patrons (15%), and administrators (9%). The top three reasons for challenging books were “sexually explicit” content (25%), use of “offensive language” (22%), and age-inappropriate content (20%). Other popular reasons include references to the occult/Satanism, promotion of violence, and promotion of homosexuality.

Popular young adult author Judy Blume has been very vocal about being anticensorship. Her books have been constantly challenged since the 1980s for tackling topics which are considered to be “inappropriate” for young adults, such as menstruation, puberty, sex, homosexuality, bullying, racism, and masturbation. Instead of censorship, Blume believes that letting children read books with difficult topics will actually help families bond. “Kids will actually go to Mom or Dad and say, ‘What does this mean?'” On her website, she also has resources on censorship.

While they are done with good intentions, such as protecting children from ideas which are “inappropriate” for their age, the act of censorship is a hindrance to free speech. Censorship is not a solution to peace, as it silences opinion. For humanity to move forward, ideas, values, and beliefs must be constantly challenged. Moreover, the availability of varying opinions allows humanity to create a better perception of the world.



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