Friday, August 20, 2004
A Comment on book banning
A visitor made this comment, on my post re book bannings, just below this one. Here it is:
You're banging the drum of "book banning," but you're missing the point. Book banning is bad when it's done by the GOVERNMENT in violation of the Constitution, and the mores of free speech that exist in this country.
A choice not to publish -- or a suggestion that a PRIVATE entity choose not to publish -- something is *not* book-banning.
Essentially you're saying, "Ooh, look, Mr. fancy-schmancy liberal democrat Kerry is suddenly in favor of CENSORSHIP!" But the quote's not about censorship. The government can't force FOX to air F9/11, they can't make ClearChannel air Howard Stern, and that's just fine. The quote from Considerettes is just a suggestion that the publisher shouldn't publish that book. No government coercion, just, "hey, it's full of crap, it doesn't seem wise to want to be affiliated with a book that's full of crap."
I've visited a few times, and you seem pretty clever. Your readers aren't dolts. By pulling this rhetorical sleight-of-hand, you're insulting them and
comment added :: 20th August 2004, 18:06 GMT-05"
I responded with this comment (and pride in that he noticed my readers weren't dolts):
"Your points are thoughtful and well taken. I also appreciate your
comments, though I disagree with some of the things you say. Book bannings are indeed, bad. So is the call for book bannings. Lest you forget, book bannings and the call for book bannings were hallmarks of fascist societies.
That Canada, a once great moral voice in world politics, has descended into a society and government that not only tolerates but initiates censorship, is a sad commentary.
You are right to say that no one can force anyone to censor anything-- as it should be. However, for the Kerry people to even call for a book ban is disengenous-- I'd be more impressed if they had spent decades calling for the banning of Mein Kampf and the like. "
My thoughtful poster is right. I will concede that.
He is right in the specifics, but not in the 'spirit' of what Kerry supporters are asking. Kerry supporters are not asking that the book be banned. They just want the publisher to back down. If we were in a court of law, he'd win hands down.
Nevertheless, my thoughful-- and technically correct-- poster, highlights a point I made in my response.
The notion that some freedoms can be selectively applied, as a result of moral conviction, no doubt sincerely believed, is philosophically fraudulent. As much as liberals don't like many ways Conservative ideas and beliefs, the obverse is also true. Conservatives can get just as bent out of shape as liberals-- and also rely on morality as the defining argument.
Therein lies the 'spirit' of the law and the genius of our nation's 'Great Experiment.' In a sense, it a reflection of a religious theme.
We all want what we want. We all share the same simple human hubris- 'we' are right, 'we' are important, 'we' know better'.
What 'we' are really saying is, take the choice-- and the vote-- away because 'we' know better.
Well folks, we don't know better. That's the whole point. We exist as a community, for better or worse, but out of necessity. There are those of us who have ulterior agendas and there are those of us that don't.
The Founders' promised us 'Life, Liberty and the 'Pursuit of Happiness.' We were not promised unending and unequivical bliss. We are promised that we each, can equally, pursue that what is most elusive-- happiness. That is also a not so tacit recognition that 'we,' of our chosen associations, are not always going to be happy, because the other 'we' made themselves and their beliefs more palatable and more attractive to more people than than 'we' did.
So what? We may not always be happy, but we will live in a civil society, together. By definition, that means compromise. We must learn that we are in this together, for better or worse. The freedoms that exist for one, exist for all. That is the spirit of the law. That is what John Kerry's supporters have forgotten. They don't get to say 'we' are right, and therefore you and your voice don't count.
I am not excoriating John Kerry. He is the choice of the other 'we' and I have to and will respect that. I do not however, have to remain silent when that other 'we' says we must do so, out of a moral conviction-- no matter how sincerely believed-- that excludes my own beliefs and rights and the beliefs and rights of the 'we' I belong to.
How can this be interpreted as a religious theme, as well? Because, we are, 'Our Brothers Keepers'. We're obligated to make sure we don't deny others that to which they are entitled. We're not obligated to more than that-- but the obligation to their own pursuit of happiness is as important as our own.
When I was in Poland a few years ago, I was told that under Communism, there were special hospitals for the Party elite and the State Police. They got the best of everything-- medicines, treatment, etc. That 'we' was the superior 'we', by virtue of the fact they made themselves that way.
Well, John Kerry supporters, that just won't fly here. Or, if you like, that dog just won't hunt.