Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

"Who will watch the watchers?" This famous quote from Juvenal (c. 60-c. 130) applies to many things today, but most of all to censure: freedom of expression is one of the most precious and fragile of rights.

The Quotable Quotes on my website is visited quite often, but I have not restricted myself to quotes about censure. The Forbidden Library: Banned and Challenged Books not only offers quotes about censure, but a comprehensive list of banned books throughout the years.

Books such as 1984, by George Orwell, banned in 1981 in Jackson County, Florida, because the book was "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter." Or Alice Walker's The Color Purple, banned because its "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality." Or again The Life and Times of Renoir, byt Janice Anderson. Restricted at the Pulaski, Pa. Elementary School Library in 1997 "because of nude paintings in the book." Huh?

Even the famous Where's Waldo?, by Martin Handford, was removed from the public libraries in Saginaw, Michigan because "there is a tiny drawing of a woman lying on the beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top."

Do I have a feeling that it all comes down to sex? Or maybe the censors hide behind the sex angle so they can restrict critical thinking. As Winston Churchill said, "Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage."

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