Censorship in Eye of Beholder

When you take up a conversation with the man or woman on the street, you find almost everyone believes in some form of censorship at some level; at least that is my own observation.

A libertarian is a person who believes in uncensored freedom of speech and actions, based solely on the condition it does not cause "direct visible harm" to another. Liberals also hold this position.

I have an understanding of the arguments against censorship, because I was once a libertarian myself. My position against censorship was as complicated to fully explain as Einstein's theory of relativity. As I look back now, I can see the humor when I would start to verbally rattle off my sophisticated position against any form of censorship when someone equipped with simple common sense would look me in the eyes and equate my position with something found on the ground in a barnyard full of animals.

Since I have let go of this self-deluded falsehood, I can see the men and women equipped with common sense are correct in their position on the censorship question.

What we are seeing in America, with so many people speaking out for some form of censorship, is the natural reaction to Edmund Burke's maxim, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." It seems there are enough good men and women who are not yet ready to watch evil triumph.

Of course, the $64,000 question is, "Who will censor the censors?" In other words, who will stop the censors from censoring everything, giving us a totalitarian society such as in China or the Soviet Union?

I no longer worry as much about that question as do the libertarians and liberals in America who keep asking it. Apparently, some of us have more trust than they do in the judgment of the men and women on the street, who haven't had their common sense educated out of them, as many of our opinion writers, politicians and judges have.

Sure, the people of a nation will always be in disagreement with one another about exactly where and when to draw the lines of censorship. But this conflict, or the continuous working out of these disagreements, is healthy and to be preferred to the radical position of erasing all lines and doing away with all censorship together.

I believe history clearly shows it is when evil triumphs in a nation that censorship on a grand scale is instituted against the voices and actions of good men and women who simply want to go about their lives in a peaceful, harmonious fashion.

So when the defenders of filthy art exhibitions, obscene musical performers and gutter level pornography start to verbally rattle off their position against any form of censorship, we shouldn't be ashamed to disagree with them, even if we have to wear rubber boots due to the depth of their barnyard arguments. You may even help them change their position.

Sorting out truth from falsehoods is what life is all about.

---Kenneth J. Wolf #11 (10/27/90)

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