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This Problem of Self-censorship 3 November 2008

Posted by MOZAFFAR in Misc.

Often, artists miss the point of Freedom of Speech. Many artists see Freedom of Speech as protection of the ability to offend. Many intellectuals see Freedom of Speech as protection of the ability to make offensive statements. Thus, we have this whole genre of gratuitous, vile “art” seeking only to offend.

The point is that if the voice of the the artist and/or intellectual is stifled, he or she becomes paralyzed. S/He is unable to function if s/he is unable to speak. Artists and intellectuals already wrestle with themselves, to the point that they embody symptoms of insanity, as they seek to find value for their own ideas. Artists and intellectuals are known for their uneven, seemingly volatile personalities.

That external censorship soon gets embraced as internal censorship. When that happens, the artist or intellectual suffers beyond recognition. Every thought gets polluted with notions of what s/he should not think which gets further polluted with notions of what s/he should think, which get further polluted with a recognition of this self-censorship. In the process, s/he has buried that original thought, that original spark of creative genius under these layers and layers of diverting notions.

Instead, the artist and intellectual creates an alternate self: one that is seemingly a full human, but is not who s/he really is. The new self is paralyzed in all aspects.



1. talib - 3 November 2008

you make a good argument for why external censorship can be important and necessary. some thoughts, ideas, and emotions need to be suppressed for the benefit of society at large. but, as you describe, that external censorship can lead to an internal censorship as well, which benefits the individual. everybody wins. (i’m talking about real benefit here.)

2. Ali - 2 January 2009

Assalamu alaikum,

I read through this post once and feel it deserves–and that I need– several more readings to grasp it well. InshaAllah I will do that.

I’m commenting now, though, to mention that on this post, as with others, your writing ‘s/he’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘one’ or even the outdated ‘he or she’ or (inshaAllah) soon-to-be outdated ‘she’ distracts me as I read. Not because it is difficult to read or read through, but because as soon as it enters my eyes, my mind blasts off, off of your blog post, and flies far away exploring and considering all things connected to s/he and it’s use, users, readers, and…

Subhaanallah–how perfect is Quran!

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