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Thoughts on Censorship

By Rev. Edmund Opitz, author of The Libertarian Theology of Freedom and Religion and Capitalism: Allies, Not Enemies. This essay was originally published in the June 1966 issue of The Freeman. Read more in the Edmund Opitz Archive.

The effort to prevent people from obtaining certain kinds of reading matter on the grounds that its perusal may inflict dam­age on the minds exposed to it, springs from a “father knows best” psychology. Men of this per­suasion assume that they know what is bad for people — even if the people themselves do not—and, further, that they are called upon to invoke statutory safeguards to prevent these latter from injuring themselves unawares. Paternalism is not limited to a concern for the purity of literature, however; the “father knows best” attitude is rampant in every sector of our society, and it is the key to the “liberal” mentality.

The liberal draws a clear dis­tinction between himself and the average man. The average man, in his ignorance and innocence, is at the mercy of his employer; he is gulled by the hucksters of the advertising profession; he is re­garded as fair game by the patent medicine men, food faddists, hid­den persuaders, and other such extremists. The liberal, therefore, attempts to regulate industry, fix wages, control profits, enforce so­cial security, and otherwise pro­tect the consumer against the wily agents of Madison Avenue and the obscene lure of tail fins.

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Down With Censorship!*

This entry is part 8 of 22 in the series Great Libertarian Memes

This article is #8 of a weekly series highlighting the former memes of Bureaucrash, an organization once headed by my friends Pete Eyre and Jason Talley of the Motorhome Diaries. The memes were originally authored by Pete Eyre and Anja Hartleb-Parson, and were intended as means of communicating ideas about liberty in catchy and succinct ways.

First, let’s get clear on what kind of censorship we oppose. We oppose any censorship by government, because only the government has the “authority” to legally use force against you for expressing your ideas. Your neighbor might kick you off his property if you say something he dislikes, or a privately owned newspaper can refuse to publish your letter to the editor, but neither should legally use force against you to shut you up.

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