Essay on Censorship - To Censor Literature is to Censor Life

2196 Words 9 Pages
To Censor Literature is to Censor Life


"All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books. They are the chosen possession of men." Thomas Carlyle spoke these words in the early 19th century. Two hundred years later, it seems we still do not understand the breadth and magnificence of the written word. Americans have forgotten the magical experiences that can be found in the pages of books. Instead of respecting the chosen possession of men, they wield it as a tool to achieve their own ends. If we lose our respect for knowledge, we lose our respect for ourselves; indeed, as Milton so eloquently wrote, "As good almost kill a man as kill a good book"
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These are core arguments offered by a majority of the pro-censorship population. The first, and perhaps most widely argued, is the issue of language, specifically, profanity in children's literature. Many people argue that curse words have no place in books, and exposing children to such inappropriate language will contaminate them. Proponents of censorship also object to plot lines in children's books that deal with confusion and uncertainty; they do not think books should address issues of morality or the meaning of life. They feel that children are not equipped to deal with these issues or, if they are, then their sole guidance should be parents and other authority figures. Finally, some groups object to exposing children to literature at all because they feel that it encourages the child to live in a fantasy world. They believe that imagination is dangerous and must be tightly reigned.



Profanity in children's literature has remained, throughout time, the most popular and easily exploitable target for censors; it seems these particular coals are always simmering in the agenda of some special interest group, be it the Christian Coalition or the local PTA. The theory generally goes that children's minds are too impressionable to be exposed…