Censorship

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. ~Henry Steele Commager

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen. ~Tommy Smothers

Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. ~Potter Stewart

We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk, and hazard. ~Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764

The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book. ~Walt Whitman

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

I am thankful for all the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech. ~Nancie J. Carmody

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

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, New York Times, 24 February 1959

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. ~Abbott Joseph Liebling, “Do You Belong in Journalism?” New Yorker, 4 May 1960

A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom, a press will never be anything but bad. ~Albert Camus

To reject the word is to reject the human search. ~Max Lerner, 1953, on book purging

Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages, they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books. ~Sigmund Freud, 1933

Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings. ~Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1823

Every burned book enlightens the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The paper burns, but the words fly away. ~Akiba ben Joseph

Did you ever hear anyone say, “That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me?” ~Joseph Henry Jackson

If you don’t have this freedom of the press, then all these little fellows are weaseling around and doing their monkey business and they never get caught. ~Harold R. Medina

Obscenity is not a quality inherent in a book or picture but is solely and exclusively a contribution of the reading mind, and hence cannot be defined in terms of the qualities of a book or picture. ~Theodore Schroeder

Assassination is the extreme form of censorship. ~George Bernard Shaw, “The Rejected Statement, Part I,” The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet, 1911

I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it. ~Mae West

Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself. ~Dick Cavett

The test of democracy is freedom of criticism. ~David Ben-Gurion

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor’s prohibited list. ~John Aikin

To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves. ~Claude-Adrien Helvétius

Censorship offends me. ~Author Unknown

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For 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. ~John F. Kennedy

God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide. ~Rebecca West

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. ~Noam Chomsky

Take away the right to say “fuck” and you take away the right to say “fuck the government.” ~Lenny Bruce

Every human being has a right to hear what other wise human beings have spoken to him. It is one of the Rights of Men; a very cruel injustice if you deny it to a man! ~Thomas Carlyle

Books won’t stay banned – Ideas won’t go to jail.~Alfred Whitney Griswold

You can cage the singer but not the song. ~Harry Belafonte, in International Herald Tribune, 3 October 1988

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ~Voltaire