Archived Opinion

The road to tyranny starts with censorship

The road to tyranny starts with censorship

To the Editor: 

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin Roosevelt said this at his inauguration in 1933. Today we have a clear example of this.

A vocal minority, driven by fear, is attempting to suppress the public’s access to knowledge. This minority wants to ban books from the local library and our schools that they think are a threat to their beliefs, their ideology and their view of American culture. 

Most people would agree that parents are the most important influence on shaping a child’s thinking as he/she grows up. That is how it should be. However, these book banners seem to fear that their influence in not enough. They want to remove all reading material that doesn’t agree with their way of thinking. This is an attempt by a minority to dictate what the majority of readers should have access to. Exposing people to a variety of ideas is the way we develop critical thinking skills. Parents who don’t want to expose their children to different points of view should home school them. 

America is a multicultural country. A minority of Americans are fearful of what they see as a threat to their view of what constitutes American culture. Any attempt at censorship of the printed word by a minority is an attack on our First Amendment freedom of speech. Whether it is written or spoken, speech is speech. 

In his book “On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century,” Timothy Snyder says, “It is institutions that help preserve our democracy. They need our help. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning.” He suggests that we each pick an institution and work actively to defend it. 

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Book banning is a double-edged sword. Book banners are motivated by a fear of knowledge. People who disagree with them often remain silent out of fear of retaliation. We live in a society today where some people view violence as a legitimate form of self-expression. 

President Roosevelt was right. 

Margery Abel 


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