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To Censor or not to Censor

Jean-Marie de Bourqueney

Translation Louise Thunin

As a Protestant and a liberal one at that, I am repelled by the very idea of censorship. Freedom is a duty, a moral ideal, a way of being. Censorship is the objective ally of dogmatism. Who could have the right, and in whose name, to forbid me to think ? Who, in the name of caution, by definition conformist, could limit the audacity of my thinking ? What church could, in the name of its debatable tradition, circumscribe my reading and my Biblical interpretations ? How many original, creative and penetrating thoughts – brilliant, in a word – have disappeared from our memories and from history in the name of censorship ? Censorship is the armed wing of order, whereas liberty is the pen of thought. « Get thee behind me », censorship…. I shall resist you with all the strength of my thinking and of my life.

And yet… When I see today, in the name of this rejection of censorship, that anything can be said, thought, filmed, looked at, listened to, I say to myself that perhaps we’re wrong. Anyone can think what he wants, or so they say.

All right, so long as the thinking is of quality and well constructed.

However, a simple opinion, often based on ready-made ideas and weak in its expression, is often taken for a thought. One has « to be oneself » ; one has « to be authentic »… But one can be an authentic idiot…even a monster ! So I tell myself then that censorship applied to oneself needs to be a conjugation of reason. When I see today that the Fall literary season was dominated by an indecent work of « testimony to the truth » by a woman scorned, I tell myself that sometimes self-censorship should be a conjugation of elegance. When I see that, day after day, the media display unremittingly the faces, albeit blurred, of the victims of ignominious barbarity committed by cruel imbeciles, I tell myself that self-censorship should be a conjugation of modesty and respect.

In a word, I detest censorship, but I shall always apply it to myself, without letting anyone else do it for me. Simply out of elegance and humanism.


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À propos Gilles

a été pasteur à Amsterdam et en Région parisienne. Il s’est toujours intéressé à la présence de l’Évangile aux marges de l’Église. Il anime depuis 17 ans le site Internet Protestants dans la ville.

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