Monday, February 16, 2009

Protect the Children!

I've ranted about people pushing agendas by saying we need to protect children from various evils roaming about the world with the sole purpose of hurting our children. Generally, once the agitprop of child protection is stripped away, the reality of the situation is, if not outright wrong, shaky.

Well, the children aren't the only thing that apparently needs protecting, it's the populous. That poor, stupid, ignorant populous that is so easily harmed by evil ideas.

I got started on this thought line after visiting the page on Wikipedia of banned books. It makes me feel very good that on the list, the books that were banned in the US either faded away or were directly overturned by the courts. It reminds me why the US actually is the best country on Earth. A mandated respect of freedom is written into our laws.

Many countries are, in many ways, technically freer than the US. But none of them have the laws negating the possibility of censorship. Laws that make the profound assumption that no ideas or creations can be harmful. Nowhere else on Earth is that found.

I think that any country or social order that feels the need to censor anything is a fundamentally weak social order. If mere words are an actual threat to the persistence of that social order, it should, for lack of a better word, die. Maybe it doesn't have to die in some cataclysmic way, such as the USSR, but it must die and give way to a different foundation that is stronger.

In the US, in every case, censorship has been defeated. Fear and intolerance has faded in favor of rational thought, in both a legal and everyday sense. We have had our mistakes. The Red Scare is the biggest one I can think of. But Lenny Bruce is a close second. But even decades after Bruce's death, we can't help but look back and correct our mistakes. He was pardoned in 2003. And the Red Scare is now, rightfully, seen as one of the US's darkest hours. A time when we were so scared and so stupid, that we ruined countless people's lives.

But in other countries, even today, we have ongoing censorship. Germany bans any Nazi literature, demonstrations, or groups. Australia has a nasty penchant for banning video games. And we have de facto censorship in many countries, such as Germany, where publications, movies, or games are not technically banned, but "restricted." Only those restrictions are so oppressive that they effectively prevent any sales from taking place. Such as not allowing a display or advertising of the product, and the product's existence is only allowed to be revealed if the customer already knows about it and directly asks. That means that countries such as this; countries that are otherwise seen as Western and cultured, are weak and inferior in a very deep, foundational way.

And while I think it is an obvious statement to say that countries that have made a habit of banning things in the past have been weak countries (USSR, Guatemala, etc.) I don't think people who call for the banning of things in this country think in that way. That what they are saying is that our country is weak and that our people are weak. I not only take them to task for explaining how, exactly, that is the case, but I also say that they are downright unamerican for making such a statement. We are nothing without our freedom, and the most basic element of freedom is to think and say what we want.

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