Free speech is considered as a part of fundamental rights. Books are a medium of expressing views of authors. Censoring books is not new, and it has been practiced by dominant groups or governments since centuries. Books are censored in order to prevent specific ideas from spreading. Books are censored by governments or other powerful people due to different reasons. This paper intends to discuss book censorship along with discussing how productive or counterproductive book censoring is.
Books are a source of knowledge and educate people. Censoring books deprives people of knowledge and learning, but this is only aspects of the issue. Books belong to different categories. Books may be educative but on the other hand they may be provocative. Books may be written with good intention but there may be ill intention behind writing books. Censoring books is one of much-debated issues, and people have difference of opinion on this issue. Some argue in favor of censoring books while others oppose censoring books (Foerstel).
Censoring books is arbitrary and usually it affects the society in a negative manner. People, especially students are deprived of various ideas and information after books are censored. Censoring books is an attempt of oppressing ideas and prevent them from spreading further. These ideas may be positive or negative, but they are certainly not in favor of those who intend to censor them. Governments or power groups or supporters of an ideology want to prevent other ideologies from escalating further and censor books. But, on the other hand, sometimes people, themselves or through authors, propagate some ideas that are divisive and may disturb the peace of society. Though censoring books is considered as oppressing the idea of freedom of expression but sometimes censoring becomes unavoidable in order to maintain law and order situation in the society. When governments notice that certain ideas are spread with a conflict-ridden agenda and usually in order to destabilize the existing establishments, censoring books becomes indispensable (American Library Association).
Any book that presents relevant information or critical analysis of any subject in a logical or factual way should not be censored. Censoring books, merely because the same is against any ideology, is arbitrary but at the same time if any book creates violence or incites rapes, it deserves to be censored. Various religious authors incite followers of certain religions against other believers through writing provocative books. Censoring books deprives a large population of knowing certain ideas but at the same time, it creates a sense of curiosity among people, and they try to get the censored book at any cost. It has been observed in a number of cases that censoring book helps in making it more popular and people get the censored book through different other channels. Due to latest communication mediums in modern times, censoring book may not be very effective as it used to be in ancient times (Cohen).
Having observed an overview and succinct analysis of the abovementioned subject, the paper concludes that censoring book is against the idea of freedom of expression. But at the same time it becomes necessary to censor some books that spread hate, rumors or incite violence of any kind. Censoring books because of mere disagreement of views is oppressive but if any book is written with an acrimonious intention, it deserves to be banned.
Association, American Library. The Freedom to Read. USA: American Library Association, 1972.
Cohen, Nick. You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom. London: HarperCollins UK, 2012.
Foerstel, Herbert N. Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002.