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Syracuse University Libraries

Banned Books Week: Notable Quotables

Notable Quotables On Banned and Challenged Books

“Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”
- Article 3, Library Bill of Rights

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
- Joseph Alexandrovitch Brodsky

“Don’t join the book burners....Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
- Benjamin Franklin

“Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the in-quisitor have al-ways lost.”
- Alfred Whitney Griswold

“To prohibit the reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves.”
- Claude Adrien Helvetius

“Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.”
- Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1821

“Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.”
- Lyndon Baines Johnson

“Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.”
- George Bernard Shaw

“Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory.”
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1972

“The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.”
- Walt Whitman

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that  show the world its own shame.”
- Oscar Wilde

Notable Quotables on Censorship

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.”
- Noam Chomsky

“The fact is that we are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past. In the present...We get nervous about her, and admit censorship.”
- Em Forster, The Tercentenary of the “Areopagitica,” 1944

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Currie, 1786

“You can never know what your words may turn out to mean for yourself or someone else; or what the world they make will be like. Anything could happen. The problem with silence is that we know exactly what it will be like.”
- Hanif Kureishi, Loose Tongues, 2003

“To reject the word is to reject the human search.”
- Max Lerner

“Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there.”
- Clare Booth Luce

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
- James Madison

“What is freedom of expression?  Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
- Salman Rushdie

“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself.  It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”
- Potter Stewart, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because  a baby can’t chew it.”
- Mark Twain

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”
- Oscar Wilde

“Think for yourselves, and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”
- Voltaire

“All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let's get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”
- Kurt Vonnegut