Censorship, Necessary or Not
In Plato’s Republic, he tries to develop a utopia for mankind. He utilizes conversation amongst people within in his book as a vehicle for larger and more serious topics to be discussed. One of the most important propositions made in these discussions is when Socrates and Glaucon are deliberating on the issue of censorship and its necessity in the beginning of “Book III.” Plato leads me to believe that censorship is a necessary evil that must exist to protect the city as a whole. The question arises when addressing this subject matter; does society need censorship to rise to its full potential? Plato seems to think yes, but for me the jury is still out.
“Book III” of the Republic begins by talking about how to create warriors and what the necessary precautions needed to convince people that death is not a bad thing are. Plato wants to invent citizens that are “unafraid of death, preferring it to defeat in battle or slavery (386b4).” Plato believes that the only way to do this is through the censorship of materials that people are exposed to. Plato wants to create a society where everyone worthy of enough desires to be a warrior and where citizens are volunteering to fight for their city-state. The only way he believes it is possible to eliminate people’s fear about death is by eliminating the stories they have been raised on. Plato further reflects on this idea of censorship by saying:
Then we must supervise such stories and those who tell them, and ask them not to disparage the life in Hades in this unconditional way, but rather to praise it, since what they now say is neither true nor beneficial warriors (386b7-386c1).
Many modern day people have taken what Plato said and have implemented into the society with which they live in an attempt to create a utopia of warriors for their benefit. Hitler comes to mind and his development of youth camps. Hitler burned books and brainwashed people for the sake of the state rather then their intellectual well being. Censorship also exists in the United States today, even though we are a society based on freedom of speech. There are people in this nation who try to get books banned from high school curriculums everyday because they feel it is the wrong opinion or information for today’s youth to have. Do I believe they are in the right? To be perfectly honest I think that the deterioration of society can be attributed to those who attempt to restrict free thought. Plato may be right in saying that the...