Censorship has been a hotly debated issue almost as long as books and writing have been in print for consumption. There will likely always be someone who doesn't like what the masses are reading, whether it's the witchy world of Harry Potter, or even a classic like Lord of the Flies or Fahrenheit 451. But banning books has a very real and very dangerous history, and these quotes about censorship prove that it's beyond bad for society.
Despite an increasingly inclusive literary environment, there are constantly books being called into question, even today. Take John Green's Looking for Alaska, or the forever threatened The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky — it seems some books will never come out of the negative spotlight surrounding them, despite their huge fanbases.
Unsurprisingly, the authors whose books are most frequently banned or challenged have a lot to say on the topic of censorship. Writers like Laurie Halse Anderson, whose novel about sexual assault has been challenged time and again is an outspoken opponent of banning books, along with the king of horror and suspense, Stephen King, and the essential childhood author Judy Blume. Regardless of genre, here are 15 thought-provoking quotes about the dangers of censorship.
1. “Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.”
—Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
2. “If there's one American belief I hold above all others, it's that those who would set themselves up in judgment on matters of what is "right" and what is "best" should be given no rest; that they should have to defend their behavior most stringently. ... As a nation, we've been through too many fights to preserve our rights of free thought to let them go just because some prude with a highlighter doesn't approve of them."
— Stephen King
3. “Something will be offensive to someone in every book, so you've got to fight it.”
— Judy Blume
4. “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.”
— Stephen Chbosky
5. “I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases.”
— Kurt Vonnegut
6. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
7. “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
— Salman Rushdie
8. “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”
— Mark Twain
9. “Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous – they contain ideas.”
― Pete Hautman
10. "Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there."
— Clare Booth Luce
11. "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too."
12. “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame."
— Oscar Wilde
13. “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
— Benjamin Franklin
14. "Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of 'The Giver': the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all."
— Lois Lowry
15. "The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship."
— George Bernard Shaw