Sunday, October 2, 2011

Banned Book Week: Quotes That Speak Volumes

My high school has one of the most AMAZING librarians in the world. She's worked hard to create an environment that my students want to go to and provides books they devour. Each day the library closes for forty minutes so she can eat lunch, and my students always complain. That's how important the library is to them!

For banned book week, she plastered the school with colorful papers full of quotes about the dangers of banning books. I asked her for the file, so I could share them with you. The words are important, powerful and serve as a warning to the dangers of censoring material (which really, terrifies me).

Check them out and let me know which one is your favorite! Or share your favorite banned books (two of mine are Looking for Alaska and Lord of the Flies)!

"Without free speech no search for truth is possible... no discovery of truth is useful... Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race."
-- Charles Bradlaugh

"You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! -of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic."
-- Winston Churchill

"The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion..."
-- Henry Steel Commager

"If librarianship is the connecting of people to ideas – and I believe that is the truest definition of what we do – it is crucial to remember that we must keep and make available, not just good ideas and noble ideas, but bad ideas, silly ideas, and yes, even dangerous or wicked ideas."
-- Graceanne A. Decandido

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"This is slavery, not to speak one's thought."
-- Euripides, Greek tragic poet (480 or 485 B.C. - 406 B.C)

"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, 1730

"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 weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."
-- Alfred Whitney Griswold, Essays on Education

"To prohibit the reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves."
-- Claude Adrien Helvetius, De l'Homme, Vol. I, sec. 4

"The sooner we all learn to make a decision between disapproval and censorship, the better off society will be... Censorship cannot get at the real evil, and it is an evil in itself."
-- Granville Hicks (1901-1982)

"Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is the loftiest form of cowardice."
-- Holbrook Jackson

"Did you ever hear anyone say 'That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me'?"
-- Joseph Henry Jackson

"Children deprived of words become school dropouts; dropouts deprived of hope behave delinquently. Amateur censors blame delinquency on reading immoral books and magazines, when in fact, the inability to read anything is the basic trouble."
-- Peter S. Jennison

"Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance."
-- Lyndon Baines Johnson, February 11, 1964

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
-- John F. Kennedy

"The burning of an author's books, imprisonment for an opinion's sake, has always been the tribute that an ignorant age pays to the genius of its time."
-- Joseph Lewis, Voltaire: The Incomparable Infidel, 1929

"Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there."
-- Clare Booth Luce

"One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present."
-- Golda Meir, Israeli political leader (1898-1978)

"To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it."
-- Michel de Montaigne, Essays, 1559

"You have not converted a man because you have silenced him."
-- John Morley

"All of us can think of a book... that we hope none of our children or any other children have taken off the shelf. But if I have the right to remove that book from the shelf - that work I abhor - then you also have exactly the same right and so does everyone else. And then we have no books left on the shelf for any of us."
-- Katherine Paterson, American author of childrens books (1932-)

"A censor is an expert in cutting remarks. A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to."
-- Dr. Laurence Peter

"Free societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence."
-- Salman Rushdie

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
-- Salman Rushdie

"Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads."
-- George Bernard Shaw

"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."
-- George Bernard Shaw

"Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime..."
-- Justice Potter Stewart

"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, message to Congress, August 8, 1950

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
-- Mark Twain

3 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

Thanks for this - far too many good ones to pick out a favourite, although I had to chuckle at the last one :-)

Kristan said...

Okay, I stopped reading about halfway through, lol, but (a) your librarian obviously rocks, and (b) Alfred Whitney Griswold's was my fave of the ones I read.

Meredith said...

My high school librarian celebrated Banned Book Week, too, and I was always so grateful for that. Love the Churchill quote!