Wednesday, November 10, 2010


If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
- Noam Chomsky
I was flipping through Facebook and found a posting from someone advocating a boycott of Amazon's website as there was a book for sale that purportedly assisted pedophiles in their activities. Atrocious, certainly. I have as much contempt for pedophiles as most other parents and share in the idea that pedophiles cannot be rehabilitated and should be put down as the cancerous growths they really are. But, I can't support banning this book.

In university I was about as liberal and left-leaning as any student could be. A journalism major, what do you expect? I saw a poster which identified an official review committee that would oversee some of the curriculum of professors and applied to sit on it. Students made up a third of the committee and were appointed by the student government. At the time a rather controversial professor had stated in his class that a certain ethnographic segment of the population was more intelligent and had a higher capacity for intelligence than others. So, the scenario was proposed to me, as a candidate for this committee, "If a professor wanted to discuss issues of race, and that one race was superior to another, would you allow it?"

Naturally the answer expected was a negative one. But, that's the knee-jerk left-wing answer. Not the carefully considered one. In my paradigm of free thought, all viewpoints must be brought to the cold, hard light of the day and evaluated.
Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.
- Alfred Whitney Griswold
It's elementary journalism theory. Don't let any idea get buried; when a group of informed people consider all the ideas, the accept the good ones. I attempted to explain this to the student government representatives. I began my speech that all ideas should be allowed to surface but was quickly shut down. No, I could not serve on the committee. Students were, "too impressionable" to be allowed to hear such nonsense. I sadly shook my head, if students weren't given the opportunity to rationally examine ideas in university then where could they? Certainly not after graduation when ideas are probably fixed for life.

I oppose censorship, always. Allow the ideas to be bantered about, people will let the good ones rise and will allow the bad ones to sink. Also, just because I oppose a book being burned does not mean I oppose burning authors. These are separate issues; y'all can torch the pedophile.
Take away the right to say "fuck" and you take away the right to say, "fuck the government."
- Lenny Bruce