"But once a culture develops sufficiently to become skeptical,
the idea of censorship becomes less attractive.
To suppress a book or a picture or a sculpture or a play or a film
is a terrible act of aggression against the artist who created it.
This is a miming of capital punishment;
it destroys the life that has been emanated by a life."
Rebecca West
(1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer
Censorship: For And Against, 1971
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Reader comments about this quote:
Is this world ready for total openness of all forms of expression whether it be inciting violence or artistic imagination? If we are ready then it wouldn't be a problem. If a film was made that incites its viewers to kill a particular race, religion, or lifestyle is that acceptable?????
 -- Robert, Sarasota     
    Being skeptical of government is but one required side of the coin that is a free society. Knowledge of true individual liberty is a more valuable face to that multifaceted coin.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    I understand Robert's concern, but here again curbing free speech does not seem to be the solution, rather educating people to be able to think objectively and be capable of discriminating analysis would help cultivate the healthy "skepticism" introduced above and thus be a more effective way of undermining the dangers promulgated by types of free expression that are not humane, than by repressing the free expression itself. When you don't allow the idiot to speak, their silence may look more like reserved wisdom...you know, the tall silent type. Dangerous.
     -- EGL, LA     
    The key to a tolerant and free society is to put up with the rants and ravings of our fellows struggling for what they believe is right. When that judgement is against us, then it is our obligation to defend ourselves in like manner. After all, is it 'hate speech' to condemn Catholics for burning people at the stake? To twist 'expressed ideas' into criminal acts is the act of a despot (even though there may be lots of support from the commoners). The truth is a very dangerous weapon -- we should all be trained in its use (but who can one trust? most likely it will be an independent-study course ;-). But kindness and forgiveness are crucial in this society because in the end all of us are guilty of something, and absolute justice is absolute punishment for all. So lighten up, folks. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Kindness and forgiveness - Archer, i did not know that you were such a creampuff. You must be turning Christian. Praise God. The individual should be forgiving. But the authority exists to maintain order in society, in connection with punishment is sometimes inevitable. To allow room for others to commit error or transgression is common, although some authority invent a transgression in order to punish. I do not pop someone in the nose each time I am offended. Every day we let people "get away with" something, or tolerate offenses. But certain offenses must be answered with force. Often enough, each case is more or less self-evident.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
    Books or drama as propaganda tools contain particles of powerful lies disguised in clouds of irrelevant truths, artfully designed to convince people of lies that, in practice, perpetuate abomination and atrocity. These book should be burned. (I know...who decides which is which, which truth and which lie? Sometimes that is problematic - but sometimes not.)
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
    Right on, Archer! I don't call your remarks Christian, but rather an exapmle of true ethical, moral practice - often missing from Christians, who often try to force their rites onto the unwilling.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
    Jack, by what gage do you measure ethical, or moral. Those are religious standards adopted by society as a whole. Now that atheism has become the national establishment of religion (by history revisionists) forcing its rites onto the unwilling who can you blame for the escalating degeneration of society. The fascists are now attempting to force torture on America, now that the Christian standard of ethics and morality has been done away with.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Mike: You can't win with closed-minded octogenarians like Jack. They will never admit error. Oh and Jack, "the circle of the earth" is found in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 22, which predates your 500 BC reference. Not in the Book of Job, but in Isaiah, and not the orb, but the circle. So I got the book wrong, but the concept right. So there, you old coot.;-)
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
    Some expressions of free speech are so egregious that they cannot be tolerated. Child pornography is censored for the very reason that it causes the most harm to the most vulnerable. Education is not the answer. The most educated pervert will still want sex with children. In fact, education may even spur his desire. Just like some acts cry out for execution, some works of "art" cry out for censorship. Both, however, should be exercised rarely and judiciously.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    Ethics and morals are simply the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do. That means not forcing your faith on all others against their will - even to the point of taking up arms or persecution, as has frequently been done in the past and is still being done today. Does anyone need examples of what I mean? I don't accuse all Christians, at least to that extent, but there are many here and abroad.
     -- Jack , Green, OH     
    Sodomy laws have been replaced by hate crime laws. People are arrested for making public statements that correctly classify homosexual practice as perversion. Good is called evil and evil is called good. Gays are proud, of what? Of inserting a reproductive organ into the excretory canal, over and over? That is something to be proud of? And perverts push for laws that would allow men to have sex with boys. I support censorship.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
    Some free speech is so egregious it cannot be tolerated? You support censorship? Listen to yourselves; you are hateful, bigoted, prejudiced, intolerant and fanatical! Emotion has illogically thrown you off topic (censorship) to immoral anal sex ... quite a stretch, even for socialists.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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