Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fahrenheit 451

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?



Fran Lee said...

People ban books because they are afraid. Afraid of what that book contains. Often they have never even read that book. They hear from another source what the book contains, and they simply assume the book is "bad". Sort of like what is going on in the political arena these days. Assumptions and blindly following another's lead. When I heard that Lady Chatterly's Lover was a "banned" book, I took pains to find and read it. LOL! Compared to today's romances, it's nothing!

Francesca Hawley said...

Here is a great quote by John F. Kennedy:

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.

He was so right. It doesn't matter what you try to do, the idea survives even the worst censorship because individuals hunger to be free and to think for themselves.

And another one of my favorite JFK quotes:

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Unfortunately, this seems to be all too true. Shouting down another's words or destroying the words by burning books doesn't unsay them or unwrite them. It only shows that you're afraid of them.

Great post, Paris!

Check out some more great quotes here:

Serena Shay said...

Great blog, Paris! Your absolutely right...the moment they try to discourage or hide away something I may want to know!

I too never censor my child. I've encouraged her to ask anything that concerns her or to read whatever intrigues her, to watch what she wants as long as she tells me what it is so that we can discuss the merits of watching vs not watching or so that I can watch it with her to make sure she understands whats going on. How can our youth understand whats going on around them if we hide it from them...

How can we?

Paris said...

Fear is a horrible reason to do anything and that's all I see when someone starts talking about banning a book or some piece of art or movie. I may not want to read it or look at it but I don't think I have the right to tell someone else they can't! Thanks for stopping by!

Paris said...


You are so right about an idea living on! Thanks for the quotes and the website!

Paris said...

They can't, and that's perfectly all right with some. So glad that group doesn't include us;-)Thanks!

Savanna Kougar said...

Paris, I couldn't have said it better and I totally agree.
Fahrenheit 451 is one of those eerie truth-telling reads that gets to the heart of the matter, that is, if the censorship is allowed to grow into the monster it is.
Sadly, in our world, censorship has run rampant in many arenas, especially in the area of health and being allowed to choose how we want to heal ourselves. The natural health community is under constant and brutal attack by the FDA and the FCC, who has shut down radio shows where people attempt to tell the truth according to real scientific research. We're not talking snake oil salesmen, here.

Paris said...

Censorship rears its ugly head in all areas of life. Just more fearmongering. Thanks for stopping by!

Sandy said...


I have always been a believer in free choice. It's terrible when our rights to choose are taken away from us.

Great blog.

Paris said...

As long as those who believe in the freedom to choose what we read stand up for their rights I think they'll have a tough time doing this. Thanks for stopping by!