f speech and are left with the chore of deciding where to draw the illusive and unstable line between what should be censored and what should not. When the issue of censorship needs to be addressed question arise such as “Who will enforce it?” and “Who will decide what is ?right’?” Ironically, the people who censor materials to protect the common people do not have the common persons best interest in mind. It is the people in power who censor to protect the disempowered and impose the views of a small percentage of society on the masses. Censorship will never reduce oppression and domination, but add to the problem, as people are left inane and ignorant. Censorship will never give people comfort and security for it is often hypocritical and in many times creates conflicts of interest.
Violent and sexually explicit material are tolerated in our mainstream society to a certain degree. Images of rape and torture are tolerated within this section of our society within certain circumstance. The rape of the Sabine Women, the Martyrdom of St. Agathe and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ are iconographic pictures which many artists throughout history have depicted and are consistently shown within art museums. While these are being represented in many places, a work of art, which challenges our modern culture, will face resistance and censorship due to homophobic, sexist and racist reactions. But go many places and it is easy to find degrading images of women in porn magazines to mainstream advertising. Why government bureaucrats get to see material that they forbid the rest of us to see is outrageous. Not only do they not have to pay for the material in question; we actually pay them to see it. If the rational for censorship is that obscene material automatically corrupts minds and produces anti-social
behaviors, then what is the same material doing to the minds of Canada Customs officers and other people in power? Many bookstores have taken a stand against censorship, including many gay and lesbian bookstores. These places come under hard times for they are constantly under attack by police and Canada customs. What makes the targeting of Canada’s gay and lesbian bookstores particularly offensive, is that those people who would be offended by the material in question are not likely to be shopping at one in the first place.
Although censorship may be ignorant and barbaric, it has always been a part of civilization. In days of the Nazis and in earlier years, people resorted to book burning when books were handwritten and very few copies existed. Book Burning would be a shocking thing to see at the present time, so other methods have been brought into practice. To be effective, censors have found devious ways to restrict access to publications, which are deemed offensive and dangerous, and have sadly succeeded. Because of this, many authors’ books have been wrongly banned often because of sexual and political reference. Amazing minds such as Noam Chomsky and D.H. Lawrence have had their books banned periods of time when the public should be engrossed in this knowledge. In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it states that everyone has, “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.” But the people in power have bent and broken this freedom so often and extensively that it has become commonplace in today’s society.
The problem is not that there is too much information, it is that there is not enough. When our government imposes the iron hand of censorship, the most important things are left in the dark and left out of the picture. The things effecting the population the most are banned, seized, and burned; this does not help anybody and only creates confusion and conflict. People are smart enough to make decisions for themselves and this is exactly what is true in Charles Bradlaugh’s quote: “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.