From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"The book which most deserved to be banned would be a catalogue of banned books." --Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, in praise of the censor
A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: “Let’s establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is in blue. It says, this letter: “Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink.” --One of Zizek's jokes, first appeared in print in Welcome to the Desert of the Real.
Censorship is the removal or withholding of information from the public by a controlling group or body. Typically censorship is done by governments, religious groups, or the mass media, although other forms of censorship exist. The term "censorship" often carries with it a sense of untoward, inappropriate or repressive secrecy.
The rationale for censorship is different for various types of information censored:
- Moral censorship is the removal of materials that are obscene or otherwise morally questionable. Pornography, for example, is often censored under this rationale, especially child pornography, which is censored in most jurisdictions in the world.
- Military censorship is the process of keeping military intelligence and tactics confidential and away from the enemy. This is used to counter espionage, which is the process of gleaning military information. Very often, militaries will also attempt to suppress politically inconvenient information even if that information has no actual intelligence value.
- Political censorship occurs when governments hold back information from their citizens. This is often done to exert control over the populace and prevent free expression that might foment rebellion.
- Religious censorship is the means by which any material objectionable to a certain faith is removed. This often involves a dominant religion forcing limitations on less prevalent ones. Alternatively, one religion may shun the works of another when they believe the content is not appropriate for their faith.
- Corporate censorship is the process by which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to halt the publishing of information that portrays their business or business partners in a negative light.
The Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death because he corrupted the minds of the young. Pardoxically, his student Plato expressed the need for censorship in The Republic, see Plato on censorship.
Early Modern Europe
- Renaissance erotica, Early Modern Europe, freethought, atheism, Galileo affair, Fig Leaf Campaign, I Modi, imprimatur
The Early Modern Europe is characterized by the rise to importance of science, technology and movable type, secularized civic politics and the nation state. The period includes the Reformation and the peak of the European witch-hunt craze.
With a growing public sphere, it was only natural that censorship would increase. Thus we see the first Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the imprisonment of the engraver of I Modi, the first book burnings and the introduction of the fig leaf.
In the Renaissance, a tradition of producing erotica for the amusement of the aristocracy started, which had been virtually unknown during medieval times. The invention of the printing press led to the first mass-produced texts of erotica and the rise of print culture saw mass-produced erotic prints by the likes of Agostino Carracci in the South and Hans Sebald in the North.
The Renaissance did much to expand the scope of freethought and skeptical inquiry. Individuals such as Leonardo da Vinci sought experimentation as a means of explanation, and opposed arguments from religious authority. Other critics of religion and the Church during this time included Niccolò Machiavelli, Bonaventure des Périers, and François Rabelais.
- censorship by country
- Censorship in the Netherlands, Censorship in Germany, Censorship in the United States , Censorship in the United Kingdom, Censorship in France
- The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France by Robert Darnton
- Obscene: The history of an indignation (1962) by Ludwig Marcuse
- Book burning
- Book banning
- Chilling Effect
- Video game censorship
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of thought
- Scientific freedom
- Academic freedom