This was a persuasive essay required by my english teacher. It is based off of the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. If you have read that book, you know that it is about censorship. The quotes with numbers after them are directly from the book. My essay is about why the government should not censor what we say, write, and/or hear. Please tell me what you think.


Expurgated Freedom

"We burnt a thousand books. We burnt a woman," (50) "Bet I know something else you don't. There's dew on the grass in the morning," (9) Is this what America would be like if the government censored what the people said and heard? Would the firemen, who are supposed to stop fires, begin them? Would freedom of choice and freedom of speech be neglected? The government should not censor what the people say, write, and/or hear.

If the government were to censor what people said, wrote, and heard, then the people would lose their right to freedom of speech. "Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it. Someone's written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book…" (59) But what about the people who wrote those books? They had a reason for writing them. Maybe it was just on a whim. Or maybe they had another reason, a point that they wanted to get across the people. But whatever the reason, if what they say is censored, then they are losing their freedom of speech. "The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty," (Adlai E. Stevenson). Americans were given the right to freedom of speech, and it was written in our constitution. If the government censored what was said and written, they would be withdrawing on the promise they made years ago. "If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter," (George Washington). Losing freedom of speech would cause thousands of people to lose their jobs. Losing freedom of speech could cost people their lives.

If the government censored what the people as a whole heard, then they would be taking their rights to freedom of choice as well as their freedom of speech. "The woman on the porch reached out with contempt to them all and struck the kitchen match against the railing," (40). "Nobody ever said life was free. Sank, swam, go down with the ship. But use your freedom of choice," (from a song called Freedom of Choice by Devo). Would all people kill themselves in an attempt to read and see what they want? The woman in the book was defending her choice to read the books that were banned. Her choices of books were banned, and they burned her for it. Would this happen if the government what people read and heard? Is the government going to take that away from the people? People should be able to choose whether or not they want to read or listen to something. Censoring what people say, write, and hear will take away their freedom of choice.

If everything that Americans today saw, read, or heard were censored, then they would become more like the people in Fahrenheit 451, uncurious about anything, and just doing what they were told to do by the government. "…but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don't; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher," (29). In their schools, they don't ask questions that will require thinking. If they can just run the answers by you, then they are asking knowledge level questions. How is that helpful to society? If the government were to burn the books that Americans read and write as a part of the society, they would be destroying carefully constructed self-esteem of the people. "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself," (Potter Stewart). When Hitler burned books, he did it because they had content in them that went against his beliefs. So if the government didn't believe in something, would they burn the books? Would the people be happy? Would they be truly happy with almost no life?

If the government started censoring what everybody wrote and said, most people would be angry and unhappy. "As to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends," (Jeremy Bentham). They would take away the people's rights and freedom. "Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books nobody reads," (George Bernard Shaw).