The Freedom to Read: Perspective and Program

The Freedom to Read: Perspective and Program

The Freedom to Read: Perspective and Program

The Freedom to Read: Perspective and Program

Excerpt

This study is concerned primarily with the problems of censorship and with the freedom to read books. But these subjects have broad implications: the problems of censorship have their basis in wider problems of individual morality and social action, of freedom and security. The censorship of books is also part of the larger problem of the restrictions applied to other forms of communication: the development of the media of mass communication has been accompanied both by the development of new restrictions and by leveling-down influences, which might be extended to books or which might be counteracted by practices in book publishing or by the effects of reading books. The problems of censorship need to be re-examined in the larger context of present-day problems of freedom. The freedom to read books needs to be re-examined in the larger context of present-day methods of production and distribution, of enlarged potential audiences resulting from increase of literacy, of competition from the other media of mass communication, and of the impact of moral, social, political and international problems.

The term "censorship" has generally been used in two closely related senses. In its original and strict sense, censorship is the prohibition and prevention of statement, expression, and communication. "Censors" originally prepared the "census," and both terms are derived from censere, "to value or to tax." The censors of ancient Rome were magistrates who not only took a register of the num-

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