The Columbia Encyclopedia defines censorship as the "official prohibition or restriction of any type of expression believed to threaten the political, social, or moral order". It is necessarily broad definition. 'Any type of expression' in fact, covers just about everything from clothing to print to movements and even to simply being. George Bernard Shaw described assassination as an "extreme form of censorship". It is now omnipresent in society and has been as long as society has existed. If one were to consider the course of an idea (and it is essentially ideas that are being censored) as its natural evolution, censorship takes this evolutionary course and disrupts and changes it, often until it is no longer the same substance as before.
Why do states (in truth any group of people) feel the need to censor? Moreover, can it be done effectively in the first place? It is human nature to prevent propagation and evolution of stories or is it human nature gone awry? What is our attachment to the status quo and what does privilege have to with this attachment? How do those without privilege subvert the systems of censorship in either information (media, literature, etc.) or other cultural memes?
Although it is not a popular notion, censorship in the eastern liberal democracies is alive and well. As American children, we learn the evils of McCarthyism and the Red Scare and similar instances as simply shadows of past evils- long banished to history. While we learn the facts of the period, the truth/ compelling force behind these periods of extreme censorship is never examined closely enough. The truth is that in out pseudo-western politically correct haze, the fear and prejudice that underlies all attempts at censorship is present in all of us- and we do not like it. The privilege of the censors (essentially those with power) is that they have the luxury of not thinking about censorship at all. Once the deed is done, the story smothered, the act is forgotten until a violation occurs or something else offends the sensibilities of those in power. The censored ones though, do not forget. They feel the loss of a story, or not the exact loss of a story itself, but of others' access to their story. This access is all-important because a story is not unlike a parasitic alien from a bad sci-fi thriller: it needs new hosts, new minds to 'infect' which will consider it and then in turn perpetuate it by sharing it with other minds. The attempt of censorship is to 'kill' the story. I do not believe that a story can in fact be killed, but for all practical purpose, it lies dormant for untold years. I believe that once a story enters a person, they are changed by it and therefore change their world because of/ in response to that story. Every action one does is a direct result of her stories, whether or not she may want them. Even if they were forcible imposed on her, she is nevertheless a product of them. BUT censorship at its most effective...