Timing is everything. On Friday morning, I came across this quote:
"A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to."
(as far as I can tell, Hicks was an American who was a member of the
Communist Party during the early- to mid-20th century, which probably
put him in a good position to know about censorship.)
To me, censorship can be defined in two ways: paternalism and mistrust.
Paternalism because those calling for the censoring of books or
television shows or movies think they know what's best for us. A
censor hears there may be material that contradicts their values and
world view, and decides that it should be rejected and suppressed.
They are afraid that once these contradictory views are broadcast,
their values will weaken and they will be increasingly marginalized.
The only way they can prevent this from happening is to attack first.
Their values are far more important than diverse viewpoints and the
acceptance of multiple realities (i.e. not everyone shares their
values, or shares their values but disagrees with the methods). They
know what is best for society, and it is the bland acceptance of one
philosophy without room for discussion or disagreement.
Censorship is also about mistrust because the censor is saying, "I
don't trust you to continue to follow our beliefs once you have been
exposed to ideas that may contradict them." For instance, what
happens when you read _The Perks of Being a Wallflower_ by Stephen
Chbosky, or _Weezie Bat_ by Francesca Lia Block (both excellent books,
by the way)? Will you still share the censor's belief that
homosexuality is wrong and that teenagers don't (and shouldn't) have
premarital sex? That drug use is wrong, and you shouldn't talk about
abuse? Censors don't trust that you are mature enough to handle these
themes or understand that these things happen in real life, and to
teenagers like yourselves. They don't trust the questions that will
come from reading material they disagree with.
And remember this - calls for censorship usually result in the item in
question being sought out in greater numbers. When you draw attention
to objectionable material, it piques the curiosity of the general
public, who then want to know what the fuss is about. So, maybe we
can also thank the censors for pointing out materials which expand our
ideas and stimulate discussion :)
For further reading on the subject of censorship, I recommend the blog
just because they posted a link I sent them!).