Who censors the censor?

A censor is defined as: “A person who supervises the manners or morality of others” (Macquarie Dictionary). Censorship is an evil thing which our community has rightly perceived for its errors and hypocrisy. Through the agency of censorship truth can be hidden from the populace.

In Australia there has been a long, slow fight to establish that people must be free to read whatever they like. If you don’t like what is on television, you don’t have to turn it on. The principle is that if people are free to show or publish whatever they like, then we know that no secrets are being kept from us. We are in the know.

Christians vigorously opposed the relaxation of censorship laws, arguing that people are influenced by what they read. How could it benefit society to have people reading and viewing degenerate and violent information portrayed in such a way as to glamourise evil and ridicule good? If literature and the media have any effect upon people, then we as a society need protection from those who perpetuate evil through the pen instead of the sword.

The Christian argument failed for lack of political muscle. People could not believe that reading one degenerate book would make the reader degenerate. Christians never communicated the long-term, debilitating effect of changed reading habits. The public were never persuaded that there were a group of evil men intent on changing the values of society through the media. Alas, Christians never perceived that the evil men, the shapers of tomorrow’s moral values, were none other than their free-enterprise capitalist neighbours who were only in the business for the money.

No, the view of our society is that everybody should be free to read whatever they like. As Christians, we can either accept this value of society or keep bashing our collective head against the brick wall.

If we have to accept that censorship is out, then at least we can use their arguments against other enemies of the gospel. Now, in light of these principles, we can attack the syllabus of our compulsory education system.

If people are free to read whatever they want, why do they have to read the degenerate literature that the Department of Education insists upon? Theoretically, the Department gives alternatives amongst which you could possibly choose something that is not offensive. In practice, the local school only provides a certain number of texts and these often bring considerable offense to the Christian conscience.

It is no good saying that you can turn the set off, that you don’t have to go to school. You do have to go to school and you do have to read these books. Neither is it enough to say that teachers in the class will be discussing the moral issues of these books and are not seeking to propagate the viewpoint of the books. We still are not being given the choice to read what we want to read.

We must give up arguing about whether these books are good or bad, whether they have redeeming literary merit or are the putrid outpourings of a filthy mind—that is not the issue at stake. The issue is: who gives the teachers or the Education Department the right to control the reading habits of our children, especially when such texts are offensive to our religion and morality?

Sexist literature, racist literature, anti-Semitic literature, will not be allowed on the syllabus. When will Christians rise up and use the arguments of this world to claim religious persecution and the invasion of personal liberty by the censorious acts of the Department of Education?

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