The Texas State Government, under the monarchial rule of Governor Greg Abbot, has overcome the formidable challenge of matching the autocratic inclination and hypocrisy of the master of demagogic mendacity, Donald J. Trump. Abbot has endorsed Trump’s fascist policy of “The Big Lie” and as well, the latter’s pathological support for undemocratic policies such as limiting the votes of black and brown American communities, opposition to the policies of prevention of infection by the covid virus, interference with minority voting rights, opposition to immigration, opposition to the right of a woman to choose abortion, opposition to gun control, support of unconstitutional school prayer and denial of the dangers of atmospheric pollution and global warming.
We have written copiously, on the subject of the undemocratic pathology of the foregoing detestable policies, and will accordingly, relegate this writing to the newest reported Texan travesty that of book censorship. The latter, now added to the other pathologically contagious presentments, have been responsible for Texas’ complete deterioration to the potentially fatal condition of infectious sepsis. Our aim, to the extent of our modest influence, is to avert further progress of the Texas dire infection, from tragically metastasizing into a veritable sepsis of the entire body politic of our Democratic Republic.
Book censorship is the act of the State in taking measures to suppress ideas or information, contained within a book. Censors, such as the current, undemocratic Texas government, seek to limit freedom of thought and expression by the restriction of their expression, by spoken words, printed matter, and other forms of communication.
It might initially, and appropriately, be noted that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the American people from government censorship. In a lesser non-legal and aesthetic context, the celebrated author, Oscar Wilde, stated “There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well-written or badly written.” In the more relevant, formal, and societally instructive context, Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendel Holmes, famously asserted that those who think they are right, will find it perfectly logical to translate their convictions into law and impose them upon others, but the theory of our Constitution is that the best test of truth is in the free trade in ideas…” We would, more modestly, add the logical point that if there is faith in a point of view, there should be no fear of controversy.
It is ironic and somewhat amusing to learn from the literature on the subject, that banning books often has the empirical effect of increasing interest in the book and making the work more popular.
On further thought, we realize that, in the above language, we have been too respectful and possibly naïve, in treating the recent autocratic censorship by Greg Abbott, with somewhat scholastic, or more to the point, rational argument. Our best perception is that Abbott’s rationale for his perverse acts is neither philosophical, political nor moral. Undoubtedly, he does not consider any other context, other than satisfying his influential confederate in nefarious, autocratic ignorance, Donald J. Trump, and the latter’s cultish acolytes; even at the cost of potential ridicule.
Texas’ mandatory book policy mandates the prohibition against the availability and reading of any book unless books with the opposing view are available. He claims, as false tactical rationalization, that he wishes to avoid feelings of shame or guilt in schoolchildren; that accordingly, for example, books on The Holocaust and on Slavery have been banned, to protect the feelings of schoolchildren, and because of the absence of books with “the other point of view.” One is hard-pressed to ask, what is the opposing view on the Jewish Holocaust? Hitler’s Mein Kompf? What is the opposing point of view concerning the egregious enslavement of black human beings? Moreover, is it necessary to point out that the purpose of history, in any event, is not related to one’s feelings, but rather, to make us aware and learn of the past, so that such horrendous events will not be replicated?
Motivated by our palpable aversion to censorship,[with all due apologies], we will be unorthodox enough to relate an anecdotal, somewhat risqué, interaction on the subject. Many years ago, at a well-attended cocktail party, largely of members of the bar, we overheard another legal guest, a middle-aged woman, loudly and enthusiastically, sermonizing, to those in her close circle, in favor of censorship, “as a necessary mandate of societal morality.” Despite our pretention not to hear or be interested, she, for some reason, chose to come directly in front of us and, in the company of several other guests, sought to engage us in discussion. Although we have always detested censorship, we, politely, ignored her spirited remarks, and tried to avoid confrontation by politely offering her a canape or a drink; but she carried on, more loudly and vociferously, finally angrily demanding, “Well, then, what do you think of sex in the movies?” We, reflexively answered: “I don’t know, never tried it—but it would probably be ok if the seats don’t fold up on you.” Following a gasp, she took her predilections for censorship elsewhere.