by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
I went to a small Quaker liberal arts college in Ohio and later taught there. Although not Quaker, I received a large dose of the philosophy during my years at Wilmington College. One belief that has stuck with me all these years is the idea of bearing witness. Part of that idea is that a person should take a strong moral stand and live by that. Over time, I have felt strongly about a number of issues: equality, combating genocide, conservation among a few. But as a publisher and writer, no issue is more important to me than censorship.
Writing has always been politically explosive. From Socrates and Milton to Twain and Rushdie, writing bears the brunt of free speech infractions due to its permanence and portability. The greatest detriment to oppressive regimes in Europe was the invention of the printing press that made it possible and plausible for the masses to read and to write. Jonathan Swift’s metaphorical “A Modest Proposal” sank its barbs deep into British oppression of the Irish just as Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” held a mirror to the repressive side of African politics.
Some religious groups have been as active, possibly more so, than governments when it comes to censorship. Hiding behind a smokescreen of morality, suppression of books by religions has a long and ugly history. The Catholic Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, radical Islam’s fatwa against authors who cross a man-made line, and Scientology’s aggressive attacks on any critical writing are just a sampling of the groups who seek to silence writers on grounds that range from silly to deadly.
Conversely, religious writings have suffered from censorship as well—usually from rival groups. Both the Qur’an and the Bible have been banned by governments and groups as well as various Buddhist writings and Wiccan books.
And so, Gentle Readers, I invite you to take part in sharing quotes from your favorite banned writing on Word Branch Publishing’s Facebook page. From September 22nd to the 28th, I will be sharing my favorites, and we encourage everyone to do the same. If you haven’t liked our Facebook page, you can by clicking here. If you need some inspiration, check out some of the other resources below.
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