Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thoughts on Censorship

I recently reread one of my favorite books of all time for book club. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Beautiful language, lovely sense of place. You really should read it. Everyone should.

While trying to learn more about the book and the author for the book club meeting, I came across this quote from an interview in the Paris Review:

"When I’m teaching, sometimes issues come up. I might read a scene in a student’s story that seems—by my standards—pornographic. I don’t believe in exploiting or treating with disrespect even an imagined person. But at the same time, I realize that I can’t universalize my standards. In instances like that, I feel I have to hold my religious reaction at bay. It is important to let people live out their experience of the world without censorious interference, except in very extreme cases." - Marilynne Robinson

As a religious person there are many things that are deemed acceptable in the world that I do not agree with. But as someone educated in the liberal arts, I don't believe in censorship either. I believe in each individual being able to choose what they write and what they read. (Of course, parents help make that choice for their children until they're old enough to make their own choices.)

Trying to ban or censor something only gives it more publicity and makes it more interesting. Mark Twain expressed excitement when a book of his was banned from a library because he knew that the children would want to read it and they'd have to go out and buy their own copies.

We should stand up for our standards and share them, but never try to force them on others--I don't want someone else's forced on me.

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