Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Think and read. Read and think.

“If they can tell you what to read, they can tell you what to think.” 

True words said by the Freedom to Read Foundation, a foundation that advocates the freedom to read for every individual. After all, whatever we read has a deep influence on how we think. So whoever controls what we read, in a way, controls how we think.

A lot is said about the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression. But the crooning of freedom to read has not been able to draw as much attention. It's been there since years though, for instance, the banned books week in the U.S, an annual campaign that draws attention to censorship by mounting displays of challenged books, was launched way back in 1982! This year, the week's going to be held from September 25 through October 2.

Thousands of books have been challenged over the years for explicit sexual content, offensive language, violence, religious viewpoints and other such reasons. Some very critically acclaimed (Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Color Purple, My sister's Keeper) and popular (Twilight series) books of the 20th century have made it to the 10 most challenged titles so far.

Had it not been for the advocacy of the freedom to read, we would have probably been deprived of such literary masterpieces.

How much is too much? A question that hovers on the mind of every censorship board - be it movies, books, television or any other medium of communication. For children, censorship of reading is essential but adults should have the liberty to decide for themselves what is appropriate and what is not. The government should not assume the role of a nanny towards its citizens.


  1. I congratulate you on bringing forth a subject that not many ponder over. Our opinions are a direct consequence of what we see, hear or read, and in todays world it is almost most of the latter. This is the main reason why newspapers and periodicals have always been a main source of propaganda. Case in point being the silence maintained by Israeli newspapers on whats happening in the Gaza strip, or for that matter the portrayal of Russia as being ruthless by almost all American authors during the cold war.
    Take the internet for example, most of us use google as our search engine, hence a search would reveal the same sites for the same searches and thus people end up reading the same material, giving a company such as google tremendous control over creating public opinion. Not that is any of its fault but still the possibilities are endless.

  2. It looks like a good movement, even though it might not be as significant as it sounds. Even if we have more freedom to read/see, the lack of availability of reading material causes us to read what ever we read. And more important fact is that Internet has helped this cause to a great extent. I'd say you would be able to read/ see what ever u like with little googling.

  3. @ Vipul: You have pointed out a very interesting example, Vipul! I've often thought about Google and others in that light. For any damn thing we wish to know, we tend to use google. Whenever only one firm has a monopoly in a business, they acquire tremendous control and when the business is media, it means tremendous control over people's thoughts.

  4. @ Anonymous: Why is there unavailability of reading material? There's plenty out there. Yes, internet has helped on that account, but a)mainly for research and other content material, not so much with books b)there are piracy issues as many books are converted into ebooks without any royalty given to the author and c) there are so many books that haven't reached the internet yet. If you notice, google has its limitations too, it cannot site every source.


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