Words are the wealth of a hungry mind. Without unrestricted access to books and the ideas in them, cognitive liberty does not exist. Books provide access to a variety of thoughts and opinions; without exposure to works that challenge our beliefs as well as those which confirm our philosophies, critical thought is a mirage.

Like many other forms of social control, censors attempt to justify book banning by citing the need to protect children. Unfortunately, these methods uniformly treat adults as children subject to the restrictions and reading choices of the governmentally-sanctioned status quo. In truth, books are routinely banned because censors fear their psychoactive properties: words can profoundly alter individual consciousness and social perception.

Book banning not only restricts the thought processes of adult readers, it also has the potential to stifle the creative thought of authors. In a free society, institutionalized attempts at thought control through the banning of books is an unacceptable constraint on cognitive liberty.  

See Also
Intellectual Freedom
Internet: Censorship  

Resources: 

American Library Association’s Banned Books Week
Official site for the annual event calling attention to challenged and banned books.

ARTICLE 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression
“Named after Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we work worldwide to combat censorship by promoting freedom of expression and access to official information.” 

Banned Books List
A current listing of banned books and authors, and where to find them.

Banning Books in the Digital Age
by Richard Glen Boire, Journal for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, Volume 2, No.1

Index Online 
For the past 25 years, Index has reported on censorship issues from all over the world and has added to the debates on those issues. In addition to the analysis, reportage and interviews, each Index contains a country by country list of free speech violations. These lists remain as extensive today as they were in the early days of Index.” 

National Coalition Against Censorship
Provides examples of action taken by the NCAC on book-banning and other forms of censorship.

The File Room
An extensive, interactive archive of literature and expression that has fallen victim to censorship; search by date, subject, country or medium.   

Board of Education v. Pico, 457 US 853 (1982)
Key Supreme Court case on book banning. "Local school boards may not remove books from school libraries simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to "prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion."

When Reading Becomes a Crime: The War on Drugs Goes After Books
By Richard Glen Boire

If you would like to expound on any of these issues or suggest additional resources, please contact us at info@cognitiveliberty.org.

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