Censorship is a hydra that rears a beastly new head in every era. For “corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens,” Socrates, Western philosophy’s founding moral philosopher, was sentenced to death. The unthinkable crime of translating the Bible into English was punishable by excommunication in Medieval Europe – John Wycliffe escaped by the skin of his teeth. Victor Hugo, whose epic Les Misérables has become a universal symbol of freedom, couldn’t even live in his beloved France for fear of what Napoleon III, whom he hated and denounced publicly, might do to him.
Writing Elmer Gantry earned Sinclair Lewis an invitation to his own lynching in Virginia; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put out a hit on Salman Rushdie for penning The Satanic Verses; in 2017 hundreds turned out to preempt Ben Shapiro’s speaking engagement at the University of California.
Censorship has existed for as long as man has had opinions and an ability to voice them. It can be aimed at anything and anyone. Yet there are no ideas which are so fundamentally rotten that their proponents must be muzzled. What there are are ideas which threaten the status quo, and there is always an authority which seeks to preserve it.
“But wait just a minute,” you might be saying. “What about X, Y and Z? Surely speech in favor of those ideas must be stifled for the public good?” Wrong. Once an authority has the power to censor some speech, it has the power to censor any speech at virtually no cost. And what did O’Brien say to Winston Smith just before plucking out his tooth in the dread Room 101?
“The object of power is power.”
As soon as you forfeit some free speech for the greater good, the folks in charge of defining “greater good” will suddenly find a whole lot more things to wrench from your mouth.
“But surely private companies like Facebook and Twitter don’t have to allow speech that conflicts with their moral values!” is the next argument. Perhaps. But let us not suppose for a second that those wonderful, morally upright companies’ top brass aren’t afraid of landing in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee. First they can’t allow hate speech; next, anti-government rhetoric becomes hate speech.
You may find yourself in ugly company when you stand against censorship. We don’t imagine a single member of the ACLU supported the neo-Nazis when they defended the brutes’ right to march through Chicago. But they believed that people, however atrocious their ideas might be, have an inalienable right to free speech.
Don’t ask yourself whether censorship is ever justifiable. The First Amendment recognizes the existence of a God-given right; it doesn’t grant it, and nothing can take it away. Instead ask yourself who is censoring, why they are so driven to do so, and how they will wield such awesome power in the coming decades if they’re allowed to hone it even further.
You may not like the answer. Anyway, here are quotes about censorship.
All quotes have been sourced and verified by a team member at Libertas Bella.
Quotes About Censorship
Internet Censorship Quotes
We hope you enjoyed our collection of quotes against censorship. And hey, do you know what isn’t censored? Our fine collection of apparel, which is just the thing to wear as you fight tooth and nail against censorship. If you don’t order several hundred T-shirts it’s because you’re against free speech.
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