Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coffee Break: Censorship

This is why you should worry when there is no freedom of the press in a country:

A young man writes a love letter to his fiancé, and adds a line or two about the government of his country. He posts the letter, but soon after dispatching he realises that if it is opened in the censor office, he is going to suffer because of the casual negative remark he made. In order to avoid such consequences, he decides to apply for a job in the censor department, so he can try to get hold of his letter. To his surprise, he does indeed get a position, and thus starts learning his new tasks. Several months later, during the course of normal post-checking, he finally comes across his letter. He opens it and reads the content. But instead of hiding it or throwing it away, he writes a note that the sender of the letter has committed a crime against the state and must be punished.

This short story by Luisa Valenzuela, the Argentine author, illustrates how the system of censorship seeps into the very souls of those it affects. The ultimate grip and success of censorship occurs when it becomes part of one’s internal system; and, like termites, it corrodes the insides, till one day it destroys the body it has occupied. Subsequently, censorship becomes the normal, natural state, such that one is no longer aware of its presence, as one’s thoughts, words, art and acts are perpetually filtered through a new sense of carefulness.

More here.