practice of suppressing speech or other public communication
(Redirected from Censor)

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, private pressure group, or other controlling body. This page is for quotes related to the subject of censorship.

[C]lear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money. ~ Frederick Douglass
He who stifles free discussion, secretly doubts whether what he professes to believe is really true. ~ Wendell Phillips

Arranged alphabetically by author or source:
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · See also · External links

It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. ~ Judy Blume
Alphabetized by author
Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme. ~ Ray Bradbury
CENSORED The Birth of Venus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1879)
  • Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.
  • It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.
    • Judy Blume, as quoted in Literature for Today's Young Adults (1997) by Kenneth L. Donelson and Alleen Pace Nilsen, p. 392.
  • While people are always quick to take up the cudgels against censorship of the press, or radio, any crackpot can advocate new forms of censorship for the movies, and not a voice is lifted in protest. There's something illogical about this indifference to censorship of the movies. After all, it's just as much a medium of public expression as are the radio and newspapers.
  • For several years now, various groups have urged the banning of crime pictures on the ground that they influence youths to turn to crime. When Jimmy Walker was minority leader of the New York legislature, there was a censorship fight on the floor of the House. A powerful group of pious bluenoses wanted to bar from circulation good books that dared to mention certain well-known facts of life. The bluenoses said the books were indecent, bawdy, lascivious and would lead their young and innocent daughters astray. Jimmy stood the debate as long as he could, then he said, "I have been around a good deal, but I have never heard of a woman's being seduced by a book." That killed the censorship bill.
  • Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn Del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.
  • The Government controlled the filmstock supply at this time and all film scripts for films to be made in the UK had to be submitted to the Ministry of Information. If a film was not approved then no film stock would be supplied.
    In 1939 the BBFC still operated under the broad guiding principles of former President TP O’Connor’s list of ‘grounds for deletion’ which were first published in 1916. These essentially barred:
    * References to controversial politics
    * Relations of capital and labour
    * Scenes tending to disparage public characters and institutions
    * Realistic horrors of warfare
    * Scenes and incidents calculated to afford information to the enemy
    * Incidents having a tendency to disparage our Allies
    * Scenes holding up the King’s uniform to contempt or ridicule
    * The exploitation of tragic incidents of the war
    The aim of all these constraints was to try and ensure that the kinds of films that came out during this period dealt with war in ways that were unlikely to be particularly upsetting or challenging for audiences.
  • The FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, decided all by itself that radio and television were the only two parts of American life not protected by the free speech provisions of the first amendment to the Constitution. I'd like to repeat that, because it sounds... vaguely important! The FCC—an appointed body, not elected, answerable only to the president—decided on its own that radio and television were the only two parts of American life not protected by the first amendment to the Constitution. Why did they decide that? Because they got a letter from a minister in Mississippi! A Reverend Donald Wildman in Mississippi heard something on the radio that he didn't like. Well, Reverend, did anyone ever tell you there are two KNOBS on the radio? Two. Knobs. On the radio. Of course, I'm sure the reverend isn't that comfortable with anything that has two knobs on it... But hey, reverend, there are two knobs on the radio! One of them turns the radio OFF, and the other one [slaps his head] CHANGES THE STATION! Imagine that, reverend, you can actually change the station! It's called freedom of choice, and it's one of the principles this country was founded upon. Look it up in the library, reverend, if you have any of them left when you've finished burning all the books.
If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. ~ Noam Chomsky
  • People say we ought not to allow ourselves to be drawn into a theoretical antagonism between Nazidom and democracy; but the antagonism is here now. It is this very conflict of spiritual and moral ideas which gives the free countries a great part of their strength. You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. On all sides they are guarded by masses of armed men, cannons, aeroplanes, fortifications, and the like — they boast and vaunt themselves before the world, yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home — all the more powerful because forbidden — terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?
    • Winston Churchill, in "The Defence of Freedom and Peace (The Lights are Going Out)", radio broadcast to the United States and to London (16 October 1938)
  • I can not believe that this is any bona fide effort to suppress immorality. There are too many signs about it which compel to the sorrowful conclusion that there has grown up among us a Society, whose original aim may have been to suppress vice, but which has now fallen under control of persons with other aims. It would appear that to these the circulation of many thousands of a book they call vicious is of little importance compared with making a sensation, and parading their own spotlessness before the public; and beyond this, it is to be feared that a still baser influence has been at work to degrade this association of (originally, no doubt) well-meaning, though weak-minded people. There is money in it. A good deal of patronage and wealth has gone to it in the past, and its agents are highly paid; and if this stream of money and patronage is to continue to flow and gladden the host of agents, they must keep up a show of activity. They must always be attitudinising as purifiers of society. If the nests of crime and vice are trampled out, and the funds begin to fall low, they must try and make their subscribers think there are nests where there are none; and, knowing well how unpopular Freethinkers are, how few friends they have in high places, they found among them a book which repeated the details of ordinary physiological and medical books—a book whose pages, with all their faults, are nowhere of biblical impurity. It must have brought their secretaries, and their lawyers, and their secret-service agents, a golden Pactolus from orthodox purses to thus prove that the society might do injury to Freethinkers under cover of attacking immorality. The old privilege of the orthodox to imprison their opponents—the privilege so loved, but lost—must seem about to come back again, when it has been decided that facts familiar in the libraries of medicine and science cannot be printed by Freethinkers in a form accessible to the people without imprisonment. They know that many of these Freethinkers value their freedom highly enough to go to gaol for it, and they are, no doubt, hoping for more victims and a flourishing business with plenty of vice to suppress.
  • But while we may smile at these traders in corruption, the degree to which they have been able to infect the Bench, and through it large numbers of the least thoughtful people, supplies grave cause for alarm. There are some ugly chapters in English history connected with attempts to suppress conviction, to throttle its expression under pretence of its being wicked or immoral. But we are so far away from those eras, that many hardly remember their lesson; which is a pity, for such lessons are costly, and, if forgotten, can sometimes only be recovered at a heavier cost. The lesson taught by every effort to repress honest and public discussion of any subject whatever is, that all such efforts are revolutionary. Every honest man in prison is tenfold more dangerous than fire burning near fire-damp. The majesty of law is defiled when the innocent are punished deliberately with the guilty. Edward Truelove, in prison, has exchanged places with his judges, and his sentence on them, for their most immoral judgment, will be affirmed when their decisions have become byewords of judicial prejudice and folly.
    They who menace man’s freedom of thought and speech are tampering with something more powerful than gun powder. They who suppress by force even an erroneous book honestly meant for human welfare, are justifying all the crimes ever committed against human intelligence; they are laying again the trains that have always ended in revolution; and, right as it is to suppress books notoriously meant for corruption, and punish the vile who through them seek selfish ends at cost of the public good, even that is a task requiring the utmost care and wisdom. Better that many base men and many bad books escape, than that one honest woman be robbed of her child by violence calling itself law, or one honest man suffer the felon’s chain from the very hand provided for protection of honesty.
  • If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.
  • Censorship laws are blunt instruments, not sharp scalpels. Once enacted, they are easily misapplied to merely unpopular or only marginally dangerous speech.
    • Alan Dershowitz (2008). Finding, Framing, and Hanging Jefferson: A Lost Letter, a Remarkable Discovery, and Freedom of Speech in an Age of Terrorism. John Wiley & Sons. p. 191
  • Under our First Amendment, a censorship law would have to be written in broad general language and could not be directed at specific religious, ethnic, racial, or political groups. Any such law could be misused by politicians to censor their political enemies or other "undesirable" groups.
  • [C]lear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money.
  • Any test that turns on what is offensive to the community's standards is too loose, too capricious, too destructive of freedom of expression to be squared with the First Amendment. Under that test, juries can censor, suppress, and punish what they don’t like, provided the matter relates to "sexual impurity" or has a tendency "to excite lustful thoughts". This is community censorship in one of its worst forms. It creates a regime where in the battle between the literati and the Philistines, the Philistines are certain to win.
Don't join the book burners. Don't think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • We believe that a key part of combating extremism is preventing recruitment by disrupting the underlying ideologies that drive people to commit acts of violence. That's why we support a variety of counterspeech efforts.
    • Facebook spokesperson Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, as reported by CNBC, January 17, 2018
  • If the human body is obscene, complain to the manufacturer!
    • Larry Flynt, in Sex, Lies & Politics : The Naked Truth (2006), p. 201
  • All the Sixties were complicated, you know. On the one hand it was funny too, you know; on the other hand it was cruel, you know. The communists are so cruel, because they impose one taste on everybody, on everything, and who doesn't comply with their teachings and with their ideology, is very soon labeled pervert, you know, or whatever they want you call it, or counterrevolutionary or whatever. And then the censorship itself, that's not the worst evil. The worst evil is — and that's the product of censorship — is the self-censorship, because that twists spines, that destroys my character because I have to think something else and say something else, I have to always control myself. I am stopping to being honest, I am becoming hypocrite — and that's what they wanted, they wanted everybody to feel guilty, they were, you know... And also they were absolutely brilliant in one way, you know: they knew how effective is not to punish somebody who is guilty; what Communist Party members could afford to do was mind-boggling: they could do practically anything they wanted — steal, you know, lie, whatever. What was important — that they punished if you're innocent, because that puts everybody, you know, puts fear in everybody.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
  • If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.
    • Benjamin Franklin "Apology for Printers" (1730); later in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiographical Writings (1945) edited by Carl Van Doren
  • What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
    • Sigmund Freud, Letter to Ernest Jones (1933), as quoted in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993) by Robert Andrews, p. 779
  • With very few exceptions, philosophers do not know much science and do not understand it, which is quite natural because science lies beyond the boundaries of typical philosophical subjects such as ethics, aestetics, and gnosiology. But while in the free countries philosophers are quite harmless, in the dictatorial countries they constitute a great danger for the development of science. In Russia, state philosophers are bred in the Communist Academy in Moscow and are placed in all the educational and research institutions to prevent the professors and researchers from falling into idealistic, capitalistic heresies. The state philosophers are usually familiar with the subject of the research institution they are going to supervise, being either former schoolteachers or having taken in the academy a one-semester course on the subject in question. But they rank in the their power above the scientific directors of the institution and can veto any research project on publication which deviates from the correct ideology. One notable example of philosophical dictatorship in Russian science was the prohibition of Einstein's theory of relativity on the ground that it denied world ether, "the existence of which follows directly from the philosophy of dialectical materialism". It is interesting to note that the existence of the "world ether" was doubted long before Einstein by Engels, who in one of his letter to friend wrote "...the world ether, if it exists".
    • George Gamow, My World Line : An Informal Autobiography (1970), p. 93
  • The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.
    • John Gilmore, as quoted in Time magazine (6 December 1993)
    • Paraphrased variant: The Internet treats censorship as a defect and routes around it.
  • Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure way against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is freedom. The surest path to wisdom is liberal education.
    • Alfred Whitney Griswold, address to students at Phillips Academy, Andover, New Hampshire, spring 1952; reported in "A Little Learning", The Atlantic Monthly (November 1952), p. 52. .
  • The steady march towards heavy handed state censorship was accelerated by the Obama administration that charged ten government employees and contractors, eight under the Espionage Act, for disclosing classified information to the press. The Obama administration in 2013 also seized the phone records of 20 Associated Press reporters to uncover who leaked the information about a foiled al-Qaida terrorist plot. This ongoing assault by the Democratic Party has been accompanied by the disappearing on social media platforms of several luminaries on the far right, including Donald Trump and Alex Jones, who were removed from Facebook, Apple, YouTube. Content that is true but damaging to the Democratic Party, including the revelations from Hunter Biden’s laptop, have been blocked by digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Algorithms have since at least 2017 marginalized left-wing content, including my own. The legal precedent set in this atmosphere by the sentencing of Assange means that anyone who possesses classified material, or anyone who leaks it, will be guilty of a criminal offense. The sentencing of Assange will signal the end of all investigative inquiries into the inner workings of power. The pandering by press and human rights organizations, tasked with being sentinels of freedom, to the Democratic Party, only contributes to the steady tightening of the vice of press censorship. There is no lesser evil in this fight. It is all evil. Left unchecked, it will result in an American species of China’s totalitarianism capitalism.
Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings. ~ Heinrich Heine
  • Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.
  • How anybody expects a man to stay in business with every two-bit wowser in the country claiming a veto over what we can say and can't say and what we can show and what we can't show — it's enough to make you throw up. The whole principle is wrong; it's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't eat steak.
  • To whom do you award the right to decide which speech is harmful, or who is the harmful speaker? Or to determine in advance what are the harmful consequences going to be that we know enough about in advance to prevent? To whom would you give this job? To whom are you going to award the task of being the censor? Isn't a famous old story that the man who has to read all the pornography, in order to decide what's fit to be passed and what is fit not to be, is the man most likely to become debauched? Did you hear any speaker in the opposition to this motion, eloquent as one of them was, to whom you would delegate the task of deciding for you what you could read? To whom you would give the job of deciding for you – relieve you of the responsibility of hearing what you might have to hear? Do you know anyone? Hands up. Do you know anyone to whom you'd give this job? Does anyone have a nominee?
  • I am not going to pretend that there are not things in Chaucer which one would be the better for not reading; and so far as these words of mine shall be taken for counsel, I am not willing that they should unqualifiedly praise him. The matter is by no means simple; it is not easy to conceive of a means of purifying the literature of the past without weakening it, and even falsifying it, but it is best to own that it is in all respects just what it is, and not to feign it otherwise. I am not ready to say that the harm from it is positive, but you do get smeared with it, and the filthy thought lives with the filthy rhyme in the ear, even when it does not corrupt the heart or make it seem a light thing for the reader's tongue and pen to sin in kind.
  • I have collected all the writings of the Empire and burnt those which were of no use.
  • The vast number of titles which are published each year—all of them are to the good, even if some of them may annoy or even repel us for a time. For none of us would trade freedom of expression and of ideas for the narrowness of the public censor. America is a free market for people who have something to say, and need not fear to say it.
    • Hubert Humphrey, address to the National Book Awards ceremony in New York City (March 8, 1967), reported in The New York Times (March 9, 1967), p. 42.
  • It is often assumed that the true victim of censorship is the person engaged in speaking. They are victims, but so, too, is everyone else. If your thoughts are censored, then I am [unable] to hear them. If my thoughts are censored, you are not allowed to hear my opinions and judge them against your own. As such, censorship makes each person a prisoner of their own thoughts and makes society barren silos.
  • The priceless heritage of our society is the unrestricted constitutional right of each member to think as he will. Thought control is a copyright of totalitarianism, and we have no claim to it. It is not the function of the government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error. We could justify any censorship only when the censors are better shielded against error than the censored.
    • Robert H. Jackson, American Communications Association v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382, 442-43 (1950).
Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason.
    • Thomas Jefferson, letter to Nicolas Gouin Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller (1814) who had been prosecuted for selling the book Sur la Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive by M. de Becourt, which Jefferson himself had purchased; reported in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb (1904), vol. 14, p. 128.
  • I thought the work would be very innocent, and one which might be confided to the reason of any man; not likely to be much read if let alone, but, if persecuted, it will be generally read. Every man in the United States will think it a duty to buy a copy, in vindication of his right to buy, and to read what he pleases.
    • Thomas Jefferson, letter to Nicolas Gouin Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller (1814) who had been prosecuted for selling the book Sur la Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive by M. de Becourt, which Jefferson himself had purchased; reported in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb (1904), vol. 14, p. 128.
  • “One of the most insidious intended effects of government censorship is self-censorship,” wrote Federalist CEO Sean Davis in a post on X. “By punishing others for what they say and believe, tyrannical governments terrorize their citizens’ own thoughts by creating every incentive for them to just be quiet.” … Writing the dissenting opinion in Murthy v. Missouri Wednesday, Justice Samuel Alito warned Americans would come to regret the continuation of an unconstitutional censorship regime.
    • Tristan Justice, "Anti-Free Speech Supreme Court Majority Mocks Concept Of Self-Censorship In Shocking Ruling", The Federalist (June 26, 2024)
    • Curator's Note: Regarding what Sean Davis said, couldn't he have stated "This is part of the language of real oppressors"? Besides, why could or would anyone deem it wrong or sinful for anyone, of any ethnoreligious background, to be a persecution scholar, or a culturicide scholar, or a genocide scholar (if the misdeeds are genuine rather than invented, of course); or to call out the continuation of an unconstitutional censorship regime as unconscionable?
  • They can't censor a gleam in the eye.
    • Charles Laughton, regarding post-production efforts to tone down the incestuous nature of the relationship between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her father—as portrayed by Charles Laughton—in The Barretts of Wimpole Street; as quoted in "Hollywood" by Sydney Skolsky, in The Washington Post (March 13, 1935)
  • The literature of today, with its conscientious striving toward sincerity, must necessarily contain large amounts of matter repugnant to those who hold the hypocritical nineteenth-century view of the world. It need not be vulgarly presented, but it cannot be excluded if art is to express life. That censors actually do seek to remove this legitimate and essential matter, and that they would if given greater power do even greater harm, is plainly shewn by the futile action against “Jurgen”, and the present ban on “Ulysses”, both significant contributions to contemporary art. And, ironically enough, this same censorship blandly tolerates, through legal technicalities, infinite sewers full of frankly and frivolously nasty drivel without the least pretence of aesthetic or intellectual significance.
    • H. P. Lovecraft, "The Omnipresent Philistine", 1924. Reprinted in Miscellaneous Writings, edited by S.T. Joshi. Arkham House, 1995.
  • Congress passed this statute against obscenity for the protection of the great mass of our people; the unusual literator can, or thinks he can, protect himself. The people do not exist for the sake of literature, to give the author fame, the publisher wealth, and the book a market. On the contrary, literature exists for the sake of the people, to refresh the weary, to console the sad, to hearten the dull and downcast, to increase man's interest in the world, his joy of living, and his sympathy in all sorts and conditions of men. Art for art's sake is heartless and soon grows artless; art for the public market is not art at all, but commerce; art for the people's service is a noble, vital, and permanent element of human life.

    The public is content with the standard of salability; the prigs with the standard of preciosity. The people need and deserve a moral standard; it should be a point of honor with men of letters to maintain it.

    • Judge Martin Thomas Manton, dissenting, in United States v. A Book Entitled Ulysses, 72 F.2d 705, 711 (2nd Cir., 1934). The majority had upheld a lower court decision permitting the importation (and by extension publication) of Joyce's novel despite its obscene content on the grounds that it was of sufficient literary merit; after criticizing the majority's legal reasoning, Manton concluded with this defense of censorship.
  • When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.
  • The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control over the means of mental production, so that in consequence the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are, in general, subject to it.
  • Censored
    This comic contains numerous references to the DeCSS code used to bypass the Content Scrambling System of DVD’s, which, by order of Judge Lewis Kapalan, is illegal to reproduce in any way. We apologize for the inconvenience, but speech that damages the profits of our corporate friends is NOT protected by the First Amendment. Thank you.
  • If some books are deemed most baneful and their sale forbid, how, then, with deadlier facts, not dreams of doting men? Those whom books will hurt will not be proof against events. Events, not books, should be forbid.
  • Proponents of using government authority to censor certain undesirable images and comments on the airwaves resort to the claim that the airways belong to all the people, and therefore it's the government's responsibility to protect them. The mistake of never having privatized the radio and TV airwaves does not justify ignoring the first amendment mandate that "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech." When everyone owns something, in reality nobody owns it. Control then occurs merely by the whims of the politicians in power. From the very start, licensing of radio and TV frequencies invited government censorship that is no less threatening than that found in totalitarian societies.
  • In preparing scenarios, you will save yourself needless effort if you will keep in mind the basic censorship regulations of the key states of the country. The territories which these states represent are extremely rich fields for the moving picture, and production companies make every effort to accede to their censorship rules.
    Unfortunately, the censors are reluctant to publish their rulings.
  • He who stifles free discussion, secretly doubts whether what he professes to believe is really true.
    • Wendell Phillips, oration delivered at Daniel O'Connell celebration, Boston (6 August 1870), published in Wendell Phillips: The Agitator (1890) by William Carlos Martyn, p. 563
  • Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only.
  • Governments and social media platforms should not rely on content removal as a solution to online scientific misinformation. [...] there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of this approach [...] and there is a risk that content removal may cause more harm than good by driving misinformation content (and people who may act upon it) towards harder-to-address corners of the internet.
  • Any public committee man who tries to pack the moral cards in the interest of his own notions is guilty of corruption and impertinence. The business of a public library is not to supply the public with the books the committee thinks good for the public, but to supply the public with the books the public wants. … Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody can read. But as the ratepayer is mostly a coward and a fool in these difficult matters, and the committee is quite sure that it can succeed where the Roman Catholic Church has made its index expurgatorius the laughing-stock of the world, censorship will rage until it reduces itself to absurdity; and even then the best books will be in danger still.
    • George Bernard Shaw, as quoted in "Literary Censorship in England" in Current Opinion, Vol. 55, No. 5 (November 1913), p. 378; this has sometimes appeared on the internet in paraphrased form as "Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads."
  • All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.
  • Every time you get a censor, you get a fool, and worse yet a knave, pretending to be a guardian of morality, while acting as a guardian of class greed.
    • Upton Sinclair, "Poor Me and Pure Boston", The Nation magazine, June 29, 1927. Quoted in Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation 1865-1990: Selections from the Independent Magazine of Politics and Culture. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1990.
  • Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. Long ago those who wrote our First Amendment charted a different course. They believed a society can be truly strong only when it is truly free. In the realm of expression they put their faith, for better or for worse, in the enlightened choice of the people, free from the interference of a policeman's intrusive thumb or a judge's heavy hand. So it is that the Constitution protects coarse expression as well as refined, and vulgarity no less than elegance.
  • You know, there are some words I've known since I was a schoolboy: 'With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.' Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged. I fear that today.
  • The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what's coming now. The party's over, folks. … "Winston Churchill said "The first casualty of War is always Truth." Churchill also said "In wartime, the Truth is so precious that it should always be surrounded by a bodyguard of Lies."
    That wisdom will not be much comfort to babies born last week. The first news they get in this world will be News subjected to Military Censorship. That is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted "Dis-information." That is routine behavior in Wartime — for all countries and all combatants — and it makes life difficult for people who value real news. Count on it.
  • Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
    • Harry S. Truman, Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950
  • The key to national greatness lies in sustaining and instilling our shared national identity. That means focusing on what we have in common: the heritage that we all share. At the center of this heritage is also a robust belief in free expression, free speech, and open debate. Only if we forget who we are, and how we got here, could we ever allow political censorship and blacklisting to take place in America. It's not even thinkable. Shutting down free and open debate violates our core values and most enduring traditions. In America, we don't insist on absolute conformity or enforce rigid orthodoxies and punitive speech codes. We just don't do that. America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree. That's not who we are. It will never be who we are.
  • But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me.
    • Mark Twain, in a letter to Mrs. F. G. Whitmore (7 February 1907)
  • Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.
  • He had a great capacity to arouse irrational hatred obviously, and that's because his ideas were radical in the most extreme sense of the word "radical." His ideas have something to offend everybody, and he ended up becoming the only heretic in American history whose books were literally burned by the government.
    Timothy Leary spent five years in prison for unorthodox scientific ideas. Ezra Pound spent 13 years in a nuthouse for unorthodox political and economic ideas. Their books were not burned.
    Reich was not only thrown in prison, but they chopped up all the scientific equipment in his laboratory with axes and burned all of his books in an incinerator. Now that interests me as a civil liberties issue.
  • I can imagine no greater disservice to the country than to establish a system of censorship that would deny to the people of a free republic like our own their indisputable right to criticise their own public officials. While exercising the great powers of the office I hold, I would regret in a crisis like the one through which we are now passing to lose the benefit of patriotic and intelligent criticism.
    • Woodrow Wilson, letter to Arthur Brisbane (April 25, 1917); reported in Ray Stannard Baker, Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters (1946), vol. 6, p. 36.

See also

  •   Encyclopedic article on Censorship on Wikipedia
  •   The dictionary definition of censorship on Wiktionary