Our Censorship Heritage

DEMOCRACY FACES A DILEMMA IN WARTIME. FOUNDED UPON the belief of citizen participition in government and of freedom of speech, press, and assembly for all citizens, when war comes those freedoms must be subordinated to the winning of the struggle, if the very government that guarantees civil rights is to continue to function, and thus assure to the citizens their constitutional privileges. In a democracy in peace- time, individuals or groups may select as many enemies as they please and struggle against them. During a war, these domestic enemies--for example, nicotine, indecent dress, vested interests, labor agitators, corrupt politicians, and many others--must be forgotten in the fight against the wartime enemy, namely, the foreign power or powers.

With this necessary concentration upon one object, divided counsels are dangerous to the life of the democracy. While in peacetime individuals could have different ideas of what the evils were that impeded the progress of the democratic way of life, in wartime the evil has to be reduced to one, the nation or nations with which the democracy is at war. If citizens persist in acting upon their several beliefs as to the way the enemy is to be defeated no united war effort can be made, and the democracy will be conquered.

Too much individualism in time of crisis may force the government of a democracy to restrict civil liberties. The individualism may not be in opposition to the war: for example, groups of citizens, disturbed at the real or fancied activities of enemy agents in their locality, and feeling that the proper authorities do not have the power to deal adequately with the danger, may organize vigilante societies, armies of "volunteer unofficial spy chasers," or resolve themselves into mobs, and

-3-

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Censorship, 1917
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Our Censorship Heritage 3
  • The Seed of Censorship 24
  • Laws against Spies and Traitors 39
  • The Censorship Board 55
  • Cables and Telegrams 73
  • Soldiers, Sailors, and Censors 94
  • Protective Custody in the Post Office 110
  • Banned Books 153
  • Scissors and Films 172
  • No More Soap-Boxes 190
  • Aftermath or Prologue 213
  • Notes on Sources 233
  • Index 241
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