Censorship Quotes That Will Make You █████

Why should you care about censorship quotes?

Censorship is a hydra that rears a beastly new head in every era. For “corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens,” Socrates, Western philosophy’s founding moral philosopher, was sentenced to death. The unthinkable crime of translating the Bible into English was punishable by excommunication in Medieval Europe – John Wycliffe escaped by the skin of his teeth. Victor Hugo, whose epic Les Misérables has become a universal symbol of freedom, couldn’t even live in his beloved France for fear of what Napoleon III, whom he hated and denounced publicly, might do to him.

Writing Elmer Gantry earned Sinclair Lewis an invitation to his own lynching in Virginia; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put out a hit on Salman Rushdie for penning The Satanic Verses; in 2017 hundreds turned out to preempt Ben Shapiro’s speaking engagement at the University of California.

Censorship has existed for as long as man has had opinions and an ability to voice them. It can be aimed at anything and anyone. Yet there are no ideas which are so fundamentally rotten that their proponents must be muzzled. What there are are ideas which threaten the status quo, and there is always an authority which seeks to preserve it.

“But wait just a minute,” you might be saying. “What about X, Y and Z? Surely “No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth, either in religion, law, or politics.”
speech in favor of those ideas must be stifled for the public good?” Wrong. Once an authority has the power to censor some speech, it has the power to censor any speech at virtually no cost. And what did O’Brien say to Winston Smith just before plucking out his tooth in the dread Room 101?

“The object of power is power.” 

As soon as you forfeit some free speech for the greater good, the folks in charge of defining “greater good” will suddenly find a whole lot more things to wrench from your mouth.

“But surely private companies like Facebook and Twitter don’t have to allow speech that conflicts with their moral values!” is the next argument. Perhaps. But let us not suppose for a second that those wonderful, morally upright companies’ top brass aren’t afraid of landing in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee. First they can’t allow hate speech; next, anti-government rhetoric becomes hate speech.

You may find yourself in ugly company when you stand against censorship. We don’t imagine a single member of the ACLU supported the neo-Nazis when they defended the brutes’ right to march through Chicago. But they believed that people, however atrocious their ideas might be, have an inalienable right to free speech.

Don’t ask yourself whether censorship is ever justifiable. The First Amendment recognizes the existence of a God-given right; it doesn’t grant it, and nothing can take it away. Instead ask yourself who is censoring, why they are so driven to do so, and how they will wield such awesome power in the coming decades if they’re allowed to hone it even further.

You may not like the answer. Anyway, here are quotes about censorship.

All quotes have been sourced and verified by a team member at SpreadGreatIdeas.

Quotes About Censorship

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie, In Good Faith

Salm Rushdie Quote on Censorship

“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”
– Potter Stewart, Dissenting to Ginzburg v. United States

Potter Stewart Quote on Censorship

“If you live in self-punishment or self-imposed ignorance or lack of self-awareness it genuinely diminishes your existence. Self-censorship is insulting to the self. Timidity is a hopeless way forward.”
– Ai Weiwei, Truth to Power

Ai Weiwei Quote on Censorship

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
– Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin: His Life as He Wrote it

Benjamin Franklin Quote on Censorship

“The principle [of censorship] is wrong. It’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t have steak.”
– Robert A. Heinlein, The Man Who Sold the Moon

Robert A. Heinlein Quote on Censorship

“Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Letter to Charles McCarthy

Kurt Vonnegut Quote on Censorship

“Censorship is the child of fear. the father of ignorance. and the desperate weapon of fascists everywhere.”
– Laurie Halse Anderson, SHOUT

Laurie H. Anderson Quote on Censorship

“All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States – and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”
– Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut Quote on Censorship

“New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Kurt Vonnegut Quote on Censorship

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
– George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

George R.R. Martin Quote on Censorship

“If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.”
– Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury Quote on Censorship

“No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth, either in religion, law, or politics.”
– Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 24: 1 June–31 December 1792
thomas Jefferson Quote on Censorship
“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.”
– Alfred Whitney Griswold, Essays on Education
Alfred W. Grisswald Quote on Censorship
“But it’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”
– Judy Blume, Judy Blume Talks About Censorship
Judy Blume Quote on Censorship
“The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.”
– Tommy Smothers
Tommy Smothers Quote on Censorship
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
– Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde Quote on Censorship
“Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.”
– Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer Quote on Censorship
“The crime of book purging is that it involves a rejection of the word. For the word is never absolute truth, but only man’s frail and human effort to approach the truth. To reject the word is to reject the human search.”
– Max Lerner
Max Lerner Quote on Censorship
“Among people who have learned something from the 18th century (say, Voltaire) it is a truism, hardly deserving discussion, that the defense of the right of free expression is not restricted to ideas one approves of, and that it is precisely in the case of ideas found most offensive that these rights must be most vigorously defended.”
– Noam Chomsky, Some Elementary Comments on The Rights of Freedom of Expression
Noam Chomsky Quote on Censorship
“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
–  Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Hnery L. Hates JR. Quote on Censorship

“We’re getting the language into its final shape – the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.”
– George Orwell1984

George Orwell Quote on Censorship

“If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”
– George Orwell, Free Speech for Me – But Not for Thee (attributed)

George Orwell Quote on Censorship

“All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”
– George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession

George B. Shaw Quote on Censorship

“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”
– Heinrich Heine, Almansor: A Tragedy

Heinrich Heine Quote on Censorship

“The German Censors —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— Idiots —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——”
– Heinrich Heine, Ideen. Das Buch Le Grand

Heinrich Heine Quote on Censorship

Internet Censorship Quotes

“Media censorship is the hallmark of authoritarian regimes, but with an enormous increase in flows of information, it becomes increasingly difficult for any state to completely curb news coverage before it reaches the public.”
– Qiuqing Tai, China’s Media Censorship: A Dynamic and Diversified Regime

Qiuqing Tai Quote on Censorship

“We believe that access is a fundamental right, and it’s very sad if it’s denied to citizens of Egypt or any country.”
– David Drummond

David Drummond Quote on Censorship

“The internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it.”
– John Perry Barlow

John Perry Barlow Quote on Censorship

“There is no ‘right’ way to do internet censorship, and the best version of a bad idea remains a bad idea.”
– Julian Sanchez

John Perry Barlow Quote on Censorship

“Thank god my husband had to shake his porn habit after he got here.”
– Nellie Yellow, Why we’re staying in China (when asked about internet access)

Nellie Yellow Quote on Censorship

We hope you enjoyed our collection of quotes against censorship!