HarriscensorshipIsn’t this grand? Cable is full of porn, but more Americans favor censorship of books than of movies, TV programs or video games. What a touching  tribute to the power of the printed word. More stats and scary insights are in Library Journal, which quotes the Harris Poll. An excerpt from LJ:

"In 2011, 18 percent of adults surveyed answered yes to the question ‘Do you think that there are any books which should be banned completely?’ In the most current study, published July 8, 28 percent answered the same question in the affirmative—a ten point increase—with 24 percent of those surveyed unsure. This means nearly half of those surveyed are still convinced that no books should ever be banned, but the implications of the findings still deserve attention. ‘While it’s still a minority perception…I felt that from 18 to 28 percent in just four years was rather surprising growth,’ said Larry Shannon-Missal, managing editor at the Harris Poll."

Harris itself reports that “seven in ten adults believe a rating system (similar to that used for movies) should be applied to books (71%).”

Could there be a correlation between America’s growing narrow-mindedness and the ever-increasing pervasiveness of high-tech, including e-books? Iniquity is easier ever than ever to find and be indignant about. Then there’s a related angle. Who knows what evil titles might lurk inside the Kindle in the hands of the baby-faced little girl next to you on the bus? Luddite tendencies aren’t the only obstacles that e-books may face in some cases. Perhaps it also can be sheer fear of the Devil.

That said, the issues are tricky. I dislike censorship, especially of books. But how to respect community tastes and standards? As a rational type, I really, really can’t stand ads for astrology, quack medical cures, miracle weight loss schemes and the like. I suspect that many of our community members feel the same. So I’ve asked Ezoic to ban this dreck from TeleRead. But that’s me, not the government, and it isn’t censorship in the official sense.

Official ratings for books would be an abomination. If families want to subscribe to filtering services from churches or Joe’s Family Protection Geeks, that’s one thing. But please don’t get the government involved, which is what the phrase “complete ban” might imply.

Personal morality and the national security angle: Ashley Madison, a dating service for cheaters, was hacked along with other dodgy sites. Venture Beat extrapolated from population stats and others to come up with the following estimates of the numbers of potential blackmail victims: “1,250 Federal and State elected officials, 2,500 FBI employees, 2,500 NSA employees, 2,175 full time nuclear power plant workers, 3,500 TSA employees, 25,000 DHS employees. 35,000 local elected officials, 60,000 people with top secret security clearance.”


  1. Sometimes I’m convinced that America has more idiots per capita than any other county. I’m completely opposed to a rating system for books.

    Just how would this work? Would there be G, PG, PG13, R, and X labels on books? Who decides how books get rated? Would publishers tell authors to cut back the sex, swearing, and bloodletting so the novel can have the YA friendly to get a PG13 on the cover?

    And really what’s the point? When I was a kid before the VCR was a household item I still bought tickets to R movies without a problem. Does any body truly believe a rating system would do anybody any good?

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