Saturday, October 3, 2009
While researching the lists of banned books for this week's blog I ran across an old favorite. Fahrenheit 451 is the Ray Bradbury story about a futuristic society where all printed matter is banned because officials know that people who read and think for themselves are a threat to their power. Their greatest fear is that these free-thinkers who have the audacity to read might infect others whose only connection to the outside world is a large television that broadcasts news and entertainment to the masses. These people have forgotten how to interact with one another and rely solely on whatever propaganda spews forth and those in power like it that way. Makes for a nice, calm society.
If that thought doesn't chill you, a fireman's job becomes one of hunting down those who rebel and burning their books. Their reasoning is that books can make you feel pain or sadness and that's to be avoided at all costs. People who don't feel anything don't care what's going on around them.
When does "protection" which is the disguise that censorship hides behind become all intrusive and harmful? I say it is with the first claim that someone knows what is best for me and that would include what reading material I have access to.
I've always been leery of anyone who wanted to protect me for "my own good". My first thought has always been, why don't you want me to know this? I've been making up my own mind for quite some time now and I happen to like it that way. I never censored my children. If they wanted to know something they didn't understand, I explained it. Knowledge is a more powerful incentive than fear because it gives you the tools to change the world around you.
When does censorship become intrusive and harmful? I say it is the very second someone attempts to ban a book, an idea, a thought...a freedom. What do you think?