To Hell with Censorship February 24, 2009

To Hell with Censorship

Jessica Hagy sums up how censorship really works:


I wonder where that intersection point is… what’s the happy (unhappy?) medium between knowledge and danger?

And when is too much knowledge a bad thing?

(via Indexed)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Well, while I think that intersection is very far along the “knowledge” scale, I would have to draw the line right at a romantic double date with our nuclear launch codes and Fidel Castro’s niece.

  • Noodle

    Isn’t she implying that the kids are right in this instance? i.e. that too little knowledge is dangerous, while a lot of knowledge is safe?

    Thus the terminology, so “say” the censors and so “KNOW” the kids.

    I don’t think that she’s saying that there’s anything special about the intersection, or that we should find a happy medium. This might have worked better on two different graphs, I think.

    That was my interpretation anyway.

    ((Also, a lot of knowledge is never dangerous.))

  • Jesse

    In my opinion, too much knowledge can only be bad when you don’t have enough other knowledge to put it in context. This is kind of the idea behind the saying “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” In other words, knowledge is bad in situations where it may be misleading (because of a lack of other knowledge causing us to misinterpret it).

  • I just had a problem on my site with a guest blogger that I thought had similar beliefs as me. This last weekend he went on and made a posting that linked to an Aryan group(white supremest), and how it made sense. I pulled the content, as I didn’t want to promote that on a left wing site! I probably wouldn’t have pulled it if it was a comment(I may have only summarized the comment with a link), but I felt it didn’t represent the views of the site, of which I have control of, and feel a sense of responsibility for. Still wondering if I made the right choice…

  • Miko

    Ditto on the intersection point being meaningless: the “happy medium” is infinite knowledge, zero danger.

    Phil: I’d say the problem is that the nuclear launch codes exist in the first place, regardless of who has knowledge of them. If it’s bad for certain people to know something, it’s almost certainly bad for anyone else to know it either.

    larrinski: You did the correct thing. There’s a benefit (in addition to a deontological argument) to allowing even bigots to express their views freely, but free speech has nothing to do with being forced to give a forum to those you disagree with. The guest blogger is free to post his views at any venue he controls; it’s not like such a venue is difficult to find on the internet.

  • llewelly

    The more ignorant someone is, the more likely they are to hurt themselves, to hurt others unintentionally, and to be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous.
    Spreading knowledge reduces the chance someone will hurt themselves, or hurt others unintentionally – but also enables those who receive knowledge sooner to take advantage of the ignorant.

    With respect to parents and children – one common topic parents wish to censor from their children is sex. Which makes said children more vulnerable to molestation, more vulnerable to STD, and more vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies. I cannot imagine a case where more knowledge about sex enables a child to take advantage of an adult, however.

  • Awesomesauce

    Post unrelated:

    Happy Birthday Hemant!

  • Alex

    Whatever pseudo-system we have now seems to be doing the job. It makes it reasonably difficult for an individual to gather enough information to do any real harm, but enough information is at our fingertips to satisfy. Think of locksmithing. I’m glad that some people have vast knowledge about locks, but I don’t want everyone having that knowledge – good thing it is a little bit hard to gather up. And remember the Radioactive Boyscout. This is a good example of what can happen when an individual is uniquely determined to gain dangerous knowledge.

  • Steve

    “A little knowledge is dangerous. So is a lot.”
    – Albert Einstein

  • joanna

    But couldn’t we argue that knowledge is different from “information”? Knowledge is more than simply information. Knowledge is a range of ideas and understanding.

    And knowledge isn’t dangerous while it stays within the confines of our brain matter. It’s when people apply the knowledge that things have a tendency to get dicey. Behavior=range of safe/dangerous; altruistic/destructive.

  • Luther Weeks

    Add another line that is worse than the censors, those that provide false knowledge, usually based on faith, such as:

    Abstinence works.

    You will get a payoff in the afterlife.

    …..makes you blind.

    Join the Army and you will learn a skill, have fun in all sorts of exotic places, and we will pay for your college.

  • There we go with that “hell” thing again . . .

  • Emanuel Goldstein

    I hope you are not suggesting that athesits haven’t been some of the greatest censors in history?

  • Emanuel Goldstein

    Hey, at the Bill Tammeus blog, former KCSTAR religion editor, the local atheists have since yesterday, said they want to “destroy Christians”, send my buddy to Afghanistan in a “plywood box” and refered to “Hannibal Lector” cloning me a “new brain”.

    And this guy, Igor Dybal…a Russian immigrant from the paradise created by 70 years of an officially atheistic the leader of the largest atheist group in Kansas City, Kansas City Freethinkers.

    Now, I ask you…do they seem very friendly?

  • J Myers

    EG, what the hell does any of that have to do with this post, this blog, or those who comment here? And how stupid/obnoxious were you in this other venue? Might have something to do with it.

  • Bleatmop

    “And when is too much knowledge a bad thing?”

    Never. Unless you’re talking about knowing what it likes to be projectile vomited upon. That was definitely some knowledge that I could have done without.

  • Wendy

    There’s no such thing as “too much knowledge”.

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