Why Censorship Doesn’t Work

A former student sent me the following email

Plans are proceeding for the November 5 “Read-In” of writings by Howard Zinn at Purdue University, co-sponsored by the Indiana affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers among other groups.  Parallel events at several other Indiana schools are planned.  Information is available from Prof. Tithi Bhattacharya at tbhattac@gmail.com.
I can’t help wondering how many people who will attend this event had ever heard of Howard Zinn prior to Mitch Daniels’ ill-advised effort to suppress his work.
It so often works that way.
When my middle son was a student at the University of Cincinnati, the local prosecutor tried to close down an “obscene” exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs. Students and residents who ordinarily wouldn’t have gone across the street to attend an art exhibit lined up to see this one. My son told me the lines stretched for blocks.
The phenomenon isn’t limited to books and art–according to a couple of film histories I’ve read, at times when movie attendance was dwindling, filmmakers responded by producing more explicit films and hoping that the howls of prudery from the “usual sources” would increase attendance.
You’d think the busybodies would learn.
Censorship may or may not be unconstitutional (depending upon whether government is doing it), but it’s rarely effective. Quite the contrary. If there’s material you don’t want people to see or hear or read, your best bet is just to ignore it.
I wonder if Mitch has figured that out yet.


5 thoughts on “Why Censorship Doesn’t Work

  1. Here is an example of censorship in it’s ugliest form; racism is censorship of an entire group of people, based on ignorance and hatred.

    Copied and pasted from an AOL news item today:
    A new Miss America was crowned Sunday she made history by becoming the first Indian American to win. As Buzzfeed points out,
    there was an almost immediate racist backlash on social media. Some mistakenly called her an “Arab,” implied that she was a “foreigner” and even called her a “terrorist.” 24-year-old Nina Davuluri responded saying it is “something she will have to rise above” and that she’s always thought of herself as “first and foremost, an American.”

  2. Later that same day…America mourns once again over a mass shooting, this time at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. We weep, we question, we ask what we could have done differently, we bury our dead, we pray for their families and the families of those lucky enough to survive the attack, and Wayne LaPierre, the NRA, and others who follow that craziness in this country just smile and sell/buy more guns. Gun sales are through the roof in Colorado and in New Town, Connecticut. I just don’t understand.

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