It’s late at night and I’m up reading way past my bedtime. I crouch underneath the covers, flashlight hovering over the pages of a book I’m not supposed to be reading. I have to be very quiet. If they find me reading this, they’ll surely rip it from my grasp and feed it to the flames.
As liberal as we might like to think we’ve become, as free as our words may seem to flow, as wide as the press may reach, there are still those that will try to oppress the ideas that flow from books. And there are, sadly, many such scenarios as the one above that still play out in homes, schools, and churches.
It’s in the name of diversity that we celebrate banned book week this year, but it’s in the name of diversity that some books have been banned, as well. Below are 15 of the most amazing quotes by a diverse range of authors united against a common enemy — censorship.
1.“A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.”
2.“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
3. “Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.”
4. “In this age of censorship, I mourn the loss of books that will never be written, I mourn the voices that will be silenced-writers’ voices, teachers’ voices, students’ voices-and all because of fear.”
5. “I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases.”
6. “[Censors] rake through the entrails of many an old good author, with a violation worse than any could be offered to his tomb.”
7. “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
8. “Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
9. “There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it’s going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.”
10. “If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.
[Response to questionnaire in Saturday Review, October 29, 1960]”
~ John F. Kennedy
11. “To prohibit the reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves.”
12. “I believe in any kid’s ability to read any book and form their own judgments. It’s the job of a parent to guide his/her child through the reading of every book imaginable. Censorship of any form punishes curiosity.”
13. “Young minds – young brains – need stories and ideas like the ones in those [censored and banned] books in order to grow. They need ideas that you disagree with. They need ideas that I disagree with. Or they’ll never be able to figure out what ideas they believe in.”
14. “Like water leaking slowly through a dike to become a steady trickle or a flood, words and ideas inexorably elude the censor’s grasp.”
~Margaret Bald, 120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature
15. “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
What are your thoughts on book banning?
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