The act, process, or practice of censoring; the office or authority of a censor - a person tasked with the examination of books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds; or, (Laura's definition) the suppression of critical thinking by delimiting the facts upon which well-rounded conclusions are able to be reached.
This week's Word Watch is about Censorship as it relates to the Freedom of Religion and why it's so critical to the process of thinking for one's self. Years ago, I was hugely impacted by a brave and important letter published by the American Librarians Association regarding the Patriot Act. A portion of this act made it lawful for government officials to keep tabs on what books American citizens were checking out of their libraries - books such as those on world religions, the study of militia and weaponry, etc. Further, the Patriot Act made resistance by the librarians (if they told patrons to watch their selections, etc.) legally actionable. In other words, librarians could be thrown in jail for letting patrons know. When certain educational material becomes fodder for profiling, said educational materials will be avoided, thereby censoring the field of knowledge from which conclusions about this topic can be drawn. The worst kind of censhorship of the kind we're never aware of. It's not the taking away of books, or even words, we've enjoyed. It's keeping up from being aware of them in the first place. For more about this issue, and its fallout, see American Library Association.
The ALA had this to say about the whole mess: “The American Library Association (ALA) opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry…ALA considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT ACT are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.”—from ALA’s Resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act.
Check out this week's SoundBite here. This week, it's all about the Freedom of Religion.