The danger of crippling thought, the danger of obstructing the formation of the public mind by specially suppressing…representations is far greater than any real danger…from such representations. – George Bernard Shaw
The last week of September is Banned Books Week, an occasion which interests me as a librarian, as a sex worker and as a steadfast supporter of individual liberty. The urge to ban books is the urge to control thought, and the only way to control thought is to cripple it, to stunt its growth, to break its wings so badly it can no longer fly free. Furthermore, the belief that the state or collective has the right to do this is an abomination; it is nothing less than the dogma that the state owns every individual, body and soul, and has the right to torture or maim those individuals as it pleases. In last year’s “Thought Control” (which I urge you to read if you haven’t yet), I wrote:
…the urge to censor is a mental illness…In earlier times…people imagined “evil” as some sort of tangible thing that could affect everyone around it…though that sort of booga-booga nonsense would be laughed out of the conversation now if expressed directly, it still sells quite well as long as it’s expressed indirectly by referring to unproven “negative secondary effects” or burbling inane and incomprehensible neofeminist drivel about how all women are as mystically interconnected as a hydra’s heads. And of course…anything (no matter how repressive and totalitarian) can be sold to the Great Unwashed if it’s depicted as being intended to “protect” children, with “protect” in this case…[meaning] “lock into a permanent passive and vegetative state”. Young people, we are told, can somehow be “harmed” by encountering ideas and concepts that they are “not ready for”, like the protagonist of an H.P. Lovecraft story driven mad by the blasphemous cosmic truths he discovers in some forbidden eldritch tome…
The stupidest part of this whole moronic belief system is that these “forbidden ideas” aren’t cosmic truths about man’s utter insignificance and the impending awakening of horrific multidimensional entities which regard us as nothing more than troublesome insects to be exterminated; hell, even I might be convinced that keeping that sort of knowledge from the easily-panicked masses would be a good idea. No, these supposed threats to sanity and spiritual health, these books (and movies, and websites) which are so horribly dangerous that the amelioration of the peril they present justifies abrogating civil rights and choking off the air of free thought, these cognitive gorgons which will surely petrify any child (or, often, woman) who has the bad luck to encounter them due to insufficient censorship by their Wise and Benevolent Rulers…are nearly always about sex. You know, the thing every macroscopic organism on Earth (and even some of the microscopic ones) already knows about. The reason every creature reading this even exists in the first place. The process that excessive ignorance of is incredibly more dangerous than knowledge of.
In our sad, sick and twisted society, the desire to suppress knowledge and images of sex is so powerful that those afflicted with it are willing to devote tremendous amounts of money and manpower in a futile quest to that end; they are willing to deny millions of women income and freedom, to expose all women to much greater chances of rape, to risk the death of their children from disease, and to cripple the greatest tool of communication ever devised. This is not rational behavior; it is a mental illness, and for sane people to give in to the censors merely exacerbates their condition and locks all of us up into a vast Bedlam with them.