The quotations are ordered alphabetically by the last name of the author or originator.

Quotes of unknown origin or verbal tags are listed under "Anonymous". Proverbs are organised by the name of the culture or nation of origin, such as "Chinese" or "Navajo".


"Any hack can safely rail away at foreign powers beyond the sea; but a good writer is a critic of the society he lives in."

Edward ABBEY
American writer (1927-1989)

"Liberty can not be preserved without a general knowledge among the people."

2d President of the United States (1735-1826)

"I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way."

Franklin Pierce ADAMS
American columnist and author (1881-1960)

"No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous."

Henry Brooks ADAMS
The Education of Henry Adams, 1907
American historian (1838-1918)

"It is folly for an eminent man to think of escaping censure, and a weakness to be affected with it. All the illustrious persons of; antiquity, and indeed of every age in the world, have passed through this fiery persecution."

English essayist, poet, and statesman (1672-1719)

"Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse."


"The paper burns, but the words fly away."

Ben Joseph AKIBA
Jewish Palestinian religious leader (A.D. C. 50- C.135)

"Despotism does not cease to be despotism because it is elective. Nor does despotism become agreeable because the Despots belong to our own kindred. To make it subject to election is no guarantee against despotism. The real guarentee against despotism is to confront it with the possibility of its dethronement, of its being laid low, of its being superseeded by a rival party."

Bhimrao Ramji AMBEDKAR
Indian statesman and social reformer (1891-1956)

"If information and knowledge are central to democracy, they are the conditions for development."

Ghanese diplomat, Secretary-General of the UN (1938-2018)

"Freedom knows no borders ... a fiery voice of liberty in one country can raise the spirits of another far away."

Ghanese diplomat, Secretary-General of the UN (1938-2018)

"When a nation's government becomes more fearful of its citizens' rights than protective of them, that nation's future is only despotism and extinction."


"A library is an arsenal of liberty."


"Political correctness allows for two basic types of complaint: that people who behave the same are treated differently, and that people who behave differently are treated the same."


"There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous."

The New Yorker 1977
German-American political scientist (1906-1975)

"If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them."

Russian-American biochemist and author; b. Russia (1920-92)

"A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear."

Essay: Freedom from Fear
Political leader of Myanmar (Burma) (1945-)

"Censorship is a good thing. Thus every book gets at least one attentive reader."

English playwright (1939-)


"Knowledge is power."

Francis BACON
English philosopher and politician (1561-1626)

"For whatever deserves to exist deserves also to be known, for knowledge is the image of existence; and things mean and splendid exist alike."

Francis BACON
English philosopher and politician (1561-1626)

"One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea."

English social scientist. Editor (1860-77) of the Economist (1826-77)

"The Internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it."

John Perry BARLOW

"As long as I don't write about the government, religion, politics, and other institutions, I am free to print anything."

Pierre-Augustin BEAUMARCHAIS
French comedy writer (1732-1799)

"If censorship reigns there cannot be sincere flattery, and only small men are afraid of small writings."

Pierre-Augustin BEAUMARCHAIS
French comedy writer (1732-1799)

"Free speech is to a great people what winds are to oceans and malarial regions, which waft away the elements of disease and bring new elements of health; and where free speech is stopped, miasma is bred, and death comes fast. "

Henry Ward BEECHER
American Congregational preacher, orator, and lecturer (1813-1887)

"You can cage the singer but not the song."

American singer and actor (1927-)

"You never saw a fish on the wall with its mouth shut."


"If your library is not 'unsafe', it probably isn't doing its job."

Library Journal, October 1999

"Journalists must seek and speak the truth, for we are the voice of the voiceless millions."

Pakistani journalist

"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

Steve BIKO
South African political leader (1946–77)

"You have to choose where you look, and in making that choice you eliminate entire worlds."

Barbara BLOOM

"As might be supposed I have not had the time, nor may I add the inclination to read through this book. I have, however, read pages 690 to 732..."

Sir Archibald BODKIN
Director of Public Prosecutions
The words with which he on December 29, 1922, banned James Joyce's 'Ulysses' from Britain

"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."

Niels BOHR
Danish physicist (1885-1962)

"Never express yourself more clearly than you think."

Niels BOHR
Danish physicist (1885-1962)

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

Derek Curtis BOK
American educator and university president (1930-)

"I’m having trouble being politically correct. How about if I'm just theoretically appropriate?"


"Knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary. Knowledge is never used up. It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion."

Daniel Joseph BOORSTIN
American Government Official historian and Librarian of Congress

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."

Jorge Luis BORGES
Argentine poet (1899-1986)

"Censorship is the mother of metaphor."

Jorge Luis BORGES
Argentine poet (1899-1986)

"Only the suppressed word is dangerous."

Karl Ludwig BÖRNE
German journalist (1786-1837)

"Ideas are to literature what light is to painting."

French novelist

"Nothing is added to the original text, but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family."

English author and editor (1754-1825)
In 1818 he published an edition of Shakespeare's works in which he had removed all the phrases,
which he considered to be coarse or indecent. His crude form of censorship has given name to the practice of prudish expurgation - Bowdlerism

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."

U.S. science-fiction writer (1920-2012)

"There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches."

U.S. science-fiction writer (1920-2012)

"Somewhere the saving and putting away had to begin again and someone had to do the saving and keeping, one way or another, in books, in records, in people's heads, any way at all so long as it was safe, free from moths, silverfish, rust and dry rot, and men with matches."

U.S. science-fiction writer (1920-2012)

"Without free speech no search for truth is possible... no discovery of truth is useful... Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race."

British social reformer (1833-1891)

"When the regime ordered
Books with dangerous knowledge
To be burned in public and everywhere
Oxen were forced to pull, carts with books
to the bonfires, one of the persecuted poets
discovered one of the best
studying the list of the burned
disconcerted, that his books were forgotten.
He rushed to his desk, flying on wings of rage
and wrote a letter to the the authorities.
Burn me! he wrote with a quick stroke
Burn me! don't do this to me! Do not spare me!
Have I not always reported the truth in my books?
Yet now you treat me as were I a liar!
I command you: Burn me! "

Bertolt BRECHT
Poem titled "The Bookburning" (Die Bücherverbrennung)
German dramatist and poet (1898-1956)

"When the conspiracy of lies surrounding me demands of me to silence the one word of truth given to me, that word becomes the one word I wish to utter above all others."

South African author and professor of literature

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. "

Joseph Alexandrovitch BRODSKY
Russian-American poet, b. St. Petersburg and exiled 1972 (1940-1996)

"Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave. "

Baron Henry Peter BROUGHAM
British statesman, b. Edinburgh (1778–1868)

"In some respects the life of a censor is more exhilarating that of an emperor. The best the emperor can do is to snip off the heads of men and women, who are mere mortals. The censor can decapitate ideas which but for him might have lived forever."

Heywood C. BROUN
U.S. journalist and author (1888-1939)

"Everybody favours free speech in the slack moments when no axes are being ground."

Heywood C. BROUN
U.S. journalist and author (1888-1939)

"Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill."

Siddhartha Gotoma or BUDDHA
(probably from 563 to 483 B.C.)

"The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love Born out of concern for all beings."

Siddhartha Gotoma or BUDDHA
(probably from 563 to 483 B.C.)

"Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword."

English novelist (1803-1873)

"He that complies against his will, Is of his own opinion still."

English novelist (1825-1902)

"But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions think."

Lord George Gordon BYRON
English poet (1788-1824)


"...The Director General invites you to examine the planisphere hanging on the wall. The varied color scheme indicates:
  1. the countries where all books are systematically confiscated
  2. the countries where only books published or approved by the State may circulate
  3. the countries where existing censorship is crude, approximate, and unpredictable
  4. the countries where the censorship is subtle, informed, sensitive to implications and allusions, managed by meticulous and sly intellectuals
  5. the countries where there are two networks of dissemination: one legal and one clandestine
  6. the countries where there is no censorship because there are no books, but there are many potential readers
  7. the countries where there are no books and nobody complains about their absence
  8. the countries, finally, in which every day, books are produced for all tastes and all ideas, amid general indifference.

Nobody these days holds the written word in such high esteem as police states do... "


Italian novelist (1923–1985)

"A free press can of course be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom it will never be anything but bad."

Albert CAMUS
Resistance, Rebellion and Death
French-Algerian author (1913-1960)

"Freedom of the press is perhaps the freedom that has suffered the most from the gradual degradation of the idea of liberty."

Albert CAMUS
French-Algerian author (1913-1960)

"Freedom is not a reward or a decoration that is celebrated with champagne... Oh no! It's a long distance race, quite solitary and very exhausting."

Albert CAMUS
French-Algerian author (1913-1960)

"La liberté de la presse ne s'use que quand on ne s'en sert pas." (The freedom of the press is never used up / worn out except when you don't use it).

The motto of this current French satirical magazine

"Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom."

Benjamin Nathan CARDOZO
American jurist (1870–1938)

"He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave."

Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist (1837-1919)

"There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration."

Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist (1837-1919)

"Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself would."

American talk-show host, entertainer (1936-)

"Truth may be stretched, but cannot be broken, and always gets above falsehood, as oil does above water."

Spanish novelist, dramatist, and poet (1547-1616)

"It is no use painting the foot of the tree white, the strength of the bark cries out from beneath the paint."

West Indian poet and essayist (1913-2008)

"The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names."


"A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood."


"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

1992, On The Late Show
American educator and linguist (1928-)

"The press is easier to strangle than to look in the eyes."

Winston Leonard Spencer CHURCHILL
English statesman and writer (1874-1965)

"You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! - of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic."

Winston Leonard Spencer CHURCHILL
English statesman and writer (1874-1965)

"The public library is the most dangerous place in town."

American poet and critic (1916-86)

"Speech and silence. We feel safer with a madman who talks than with one who cannot open his mouth."


"Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men."

Chinese statesman and philosopher (551-478 B.C.)

"An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger."

Chinese statesman and philosopher (551-478 B.C.)

"He who asks a question may be a fool for five minutes, but he who never asks a question remains a fool forever."


"A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life."

(1915-90) - American editor and author


"You wasted 150.000 dollars on an education you could have got for one and a half dollar in late fees at the public library"

Actor and screenwriter, as Will Hunting in 'Good Will Hunting' (1970-)

"If librarianship is the connecting of people to ideas - and I believe that is the truest definition of what we do- it is crucial to remember that we must keep and make available, not just good ideas and noble ideas, but bad ideas, silly ideas, and yes, even dangerous and wicked ideas."

American librarian, writer, editor, teacher, and speaker

"Silence is the ultimate weapon of power."

Charles DeGAULLE
French general, statesman, first president (1959–69) of the Fifth Republic

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."

Philip K. DICK
American science fiction writer (1930-1982)

"Reality is that which refuses to go away when I stop believing in it."

Philip K. DICK
American science fiction writer (1930-1982)

"The more extensive a man's knowlege of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do."

British statesman and author (1804-1881)

"Silence is death.
If you are silent you are dead.
And if you speak you are dead.
So speak and die."

Algerian author, assassinated May 1993

"Whenever citizens are seen routinely as enemies of their own government, writers are routinely seen to be the most dangerous enemies."

Edgar Laurence DOCTOROW
American novelist (1931-2015)

"It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word."

Fyodor Mikhailovich DOSTOYEVSKY
Notes from Underground
Russian novelist (

"Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic."

Fyodor Mikhailovich DOSTOYEVSKY
Notes from Underground
Russian novelist (

"Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason…
There can be on right of speech where any man…[is] compelled to suppress his honest sentiments.
Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker."

Frederick DOUGLASS
In famous plea for free speech in Boston 1860
American abolitionist, author, orator (

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning "

Frederick DOUGLASS
American abolitionist, author, orator (


"Freedom is when the people can speak, democracy is when the government listens."


"Censorship is advertising paid by the government."

Federico FELLINI
Italian film director (1920-1993)

"Either you think - or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you."

Tender is the Night, 1934
American novelist and short-story writer (1896-1940)

"If information is the currency of democracy, then libraries are the banks."

Wendell FORD
Former US Senator
Based on Thomas JEFFERSON: "Information is the currency of democracy!"

"We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship."

Edward Morgan FORSTER
Two Cheers for Democracy
English author (1879-1970)

"If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."

c. 1730
U.S. statesman, philosopher, publisher, and scientist (1706-1790)

"Castro can destroy everything, except for books. He may censor, ban or even burn them, but the ideas contained in books can never be destroyed. As José Martí once said, paper trenches are stronger than those built in stone."

Cuban writer, poet, journalist, art critic (1921-2010 )

"What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books."

Sigmund FREUD
Austrian psychiatrist (1856-1939)


"... the military don't burn books any more: they sell them to the paper manufacturers. The paper companies shred them, pulp them and put them back on the market for consumption. It is not true that Marx, Freud or Piaget are unavailable to the public. In book form they are not. But they are in the form of serviettes."

Uruguayan writer, story-teller, journalist and historian (1940-)

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

Italian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist (1564-1642)

"I, Galileo, being in my seventieth year, being a prisoner and on my knees, and before your Eminencies, having before my eyes the Holy Gospel, which I touch with my hands, abjure, curse, and detest the error and the heresy of the movement of the earth."

Italian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist (1564-1642)

"Truth never damages a cause that is just."

Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) GANDHI
Indian political and spiritual leader (1869-1948)

"Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress."

Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) GANDHI
Indian political and spiritual leader (1869-1948)

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) GANDHI
Indian political and spiritual leader (1869-1948)

"No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive."

Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) GANDHI
Indian political and spiritual leader (1869-1948)

"The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within."

Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) GANDHI
Indian political and spiritual leader (1869-1948)

"The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary."

Nobel Prize Lecture, 8 December 1982
Colombian novelist, short-story writer, and journalist (1928-2014)

"Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men."

Marcus Moziah GARVEY
Jamaican black nationalist leader (1887-1940)

"Power may be at the end of a gun, but sometimes it's also at the end of the shadow or the image of a gun."

French dramatist (

"You can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?"

Lebanese poet and novelist (1883-1931)

"Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking."

Lebanese poet and novelist (1883-1931)

"Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge."

Lebanese poet and novelist (1883-1931)

"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."

André GIDE
French author (1869-1951)

"Great authors are admirable in this respect: in every generation they make for disagreement. Through them we become aware of our differences."

André GIDE
French author (1869-1951)

"A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone."


"During a war, news should be given out for instruction rather than information."

German National Socialist Propaganda Minister (1897-1945)

"There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance."

Johann Wolfgang von GOETHE
German poet (1749-1832)

"The free expression of the hopes and aspirations of a people is the greatest and only safety in a sane society."

Russian-American radical activist (1869-1940)

"Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever."

South African writer (1923-2014)

"The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open."

Günther GRASS
German novelist and Nobel Prize winner (1927-2015)

"Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought."

Henry Graham GREENE
English novelist and playwright (1904-91)

"From the most foul well of indifferentism flows that absurd and erroneous opinion, or rather delirium, of liberty of conscience."

Pope (1765-1846)

"The Freedoms of Speech and Press are the necessary Conditions for the Enlightenment of Human Life, which again is the only Thing, that can save Peoples and Nations, and Experience teaches, that where these Freedoms exist, one will find comfort from much other Burdensomeness and Unpleasantness; but where it is not, and in particular where one feels deprived from it, the People either descends to the Beast or cut up rough like the Wild Animals, and in both Cases it is indeed the End to Human Life."

Niels Frederik Severin GRUNDTVIG
1845, Danish social reformer and educator (1773-1872)

"Silence is argument carried out by other means."

Ernesto "Che" GUEVARA
Cuban revolutionary and political leader, b. Argentina (1928-1967)

"Truth is not determined by majority vote."



"'Freedom from fear' could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights."

Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl HAMMARSKJÖLD
Speech (1956)
Swedish statesman, secretary general of the United Nations (1905-61)

"Never, 'for the sake of peace and quiet', deny your own experience or convictions."

Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl HAMMARSKJÖLD
Swedish statesman, secretary general of the United Nations (1905-61)

"I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions."

Vaclav HAVEL
Czech dramatist, essayist, political leader and president (1936-2011)

"If a single writer in a country is in chains, then there are some links of that chain that binds us all."

Vaclav HAVEL
Czech dramatist, essayist, political leader and president (1936-2011)

"Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings."

Heinrich HEINE
Almansor: A Tragedy, 1823
Used as inscription on memorial at Dachau concentration camp
German poet (1797-1856)

"Limiting the freedom of news 'just a little bit' is in the same category with the classic example 'a little bit pregnant'."

Robert Anson HEINLEIN
A Rabble in Arms
American science fiction writer (1907-88)

"The greatest fallacy of democracy is that everyone's opinion is worth the same."

Robert Anson HEINLEIN
American science fiction writer (1907-88)

"To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves."

Claude Adrien HELVÉTIUS
French philosopher (1715–71)

"Everyone has his own conscience, and there should be no rules about how a conscience should function. "

American novelist and short-story writer (1899-1961)

"A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to."

Granville HICKS
American writer (1901-1982)

"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice and just as the touch on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart."

Gilbert HIGHET
Scottish-American classicist (1906-78)

"Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger."

U.S. activist (1936-89)

"Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it's something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles."

U.S. activist (1936-89)

"When decorum is repression, the only dignity free people have is to speak out."

U.S. activist (1936-89)

"To speak his thoughts is every freeman's right, in peace and war, in council and in fight."

The Iliad
Principal figure of ancient Greek literature (before 700 B.C.)

"It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own."

Herbert Clark HOOVER
31st President of the United States (1874-1964)

"Plain decay of libraries is like Alzheimer's in the nation's brain"

British report: "New Library: The People's Network", 1997

"He who opens a school door, closes a prison."

Victor HUGO
French poet, dramatist, and novelist (1802-85)

"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."

Hubert Horatio HUMPHREY
U.S. Vice President 1965–69 (1911–78)

"It is clear that the freedom of expression and opinion is a fundamental right, the mother of all rights""

Speech in Sri Lanka, 1999
UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Information

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

Aldous Leonard HUXLEY
English author (1894–1963)


"One of the qualities of liberty is that, as long as it is being striven after, it goes on expanding. Therefore, the man who stands in the midst of the struggle and says, 'I have it', merely shows by doing so that he has just lost it."

Henrik IBSEN
Norwegian dramatist and poet (1828-1906)

"One should never put on one's best trousers to go out to battle for freedom and truth."

Henrik IBSEN
"An Enemy of the People", V
Norwegian dramatist and poet (1828-1906)

"It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question."

Découvertes, 1969
Romanian-French play-wright (1909-94)

"Intellectual liberty is the air of the soul, the sunshine of the mind and without it, the world is a prison, the Universe is a dungeon."

German-American orator and lawyer (1833-99)


"Did you ever hear anyone say "That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very dangerous to me?"

Joseph Henry JACKSON
American critic, travel-writer (1894-1955)

"If you understand everything, you must be misinformed."


"The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object."

3rd US President (1743-1826)

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded faith."

3rd US President (1743-1826)

"Information is the currency of democracy."

3rd US President (1743-1826)

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."


3rd US President (1743-1826)

"I find the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise."

  3rd US President (1743-1826)

"Censorship in any form is the enemy of creativity, since it cuts off the life blood of creativity: ideas."


"To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you're overdoing it."


"Children deprived of words become school dropouts; dropouts deprived of hope behave delinquently. Amateur censors blame delinquency on reading immoral books and magazines, when in fact, the inability to read anything is the basic trouble."


"Books that you may carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are the most useful after all."

American clergyman, educator, and philosopher (1696-1772)

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it."

American clergyman, educator, and philosopher (1696-1772)

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."

French statesman and journalist (1876-1935)

"Let it be impressed upon your minds, let it be instilled into your children, that the liberty of the press is the palladium of all the civil, political, and religious rights."

English political author, known only by the signature Junius
Wrote various letters to the London Public Advertiser from Jan., 1769, to Jan., 1772

"Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas. - Censure acquits the raven, but pursues the dove."

Decimus Junius Juvenalis or JUVENAL
Satires, II. 63
Roman rhetorician and satirical poet (1st to 2nd cent. A.D.)

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who will watch the watchers?"

Decimus Junius Juvenalis or JUVENAL
Roman rhetorician and satirical poet (1st to 2nd cent. A.D.)


"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us."

German language novelist b. Prague (1883-1924)

"Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second."


"The moving finger writes,
and having written moves on.
Nor all thy piety nor all thy wit,
can cancel half a line of it."

Persian poet and astronomer (died c. 1123)

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it's right."

Martin Luther KING Jr.
American clergyman and civil rights leader (1929-68)

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Martin Luther KING Jr.
American clergyman and civil rights leader (1929-68)

"Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideas hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different."

Martin Luther KING Jr.
American clergyman and civil rights leader (1929-68)

"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom."

Danish philosopher and religious thinker (1813-1855)

"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself."

Danish philosopher and religious thinker (1813-1855)

"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."

Danish philosopher and religious thinker (1813-1855)

"Why did they devise censorship? To show a world which doesn't exist, an ideal world, or what they envisaged as the ideal world. And we wanted to depict the world as its was."

Polish filmmaker (1941-1996)

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

English author, b. Bombay, India (1905-1883)

"The inner censor of the mind of the true believer completes the work of the public censor; his self-discipline is as tyrannical as the obedience imposed by the regime; he terrorizes his own conscience into submission; he carries his private Iron Curtain inside his skull, to protect his illusions against the intrusion of reality."

English writer, b. Budapest (1905–83)


"Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be."

Lucius Caelius Firmianus LACTANTIUS
Christian author and apologist, b. Africa (260-340 A.D.)

"There were many beautiful books, but as they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods of the Devil, we burnt them."

Diego de LANDA
Bishop of Yucatan

"Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace."

Tenzin Gyatso or Dalai LAMA
piritual and temporal head of Tibet (1935-)

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

Esther Pauline Friedman or Ann LANDERS
American columnist (1918-2002)

"They can't censor the gleam in my eye."

British actor (1899-1962)

"I had lost faith in the word. Censorship gave it back to me."

Stanislaw Jerzey LEC
Polish writer (

"One has to multiply thoughts to the point where there aren't enough policemen to control them."

Stanislaw Jerzey LEC
Polish writer (

"Free speech is a bourgeois prejudice."

Vladimir Ilyich LENIN
Explanation to Emma Goldman in 1920
Russian revolutionary (

"With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one - but no one at all - can tell you what to read and when and how."

British novelist, b. Kermanshah, Persia (1919-2013)

"Every compulsion is put upon writers to become safe, polite, obedient, and sterile."

Sinclair LEWIS
American novelist (1885-1951)

"Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."


"A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society. ... A great society is simply a big and complicated urban society."

American journalist (1889-1974)

"Freedom to speak... can be maintained only by promoting debate."

American journalist (1889-1974)

"It is a characteristic of all censorship that it begins with moral lectures and ends up with book burning, witch burning, inquisitions, judicial circuses and character assassination. It is not a self-limiting disease. It is an epidemic ."

Lawrence LIPTON

"New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not common. "

English philosopher (1632-1704)

"Thought takes man out of servitude, into freedom."

Henry Wadsworth LONGFELLOW
American poet (1807-1882)

"Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there."

Clare Booth LUCE
American playwright and diplomat (1903-1987)

"Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently."

Social Reform or Revolution
German revolutionary, b. Russian Poland (1871-1919)


"A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

4th President of the United States (1751-1836)

"Literature should be more revolutionary than revolutions themselves; ... writers must find the means to continue to be critical of the negative elements in the sociopolitical reality."

Egyptian novelist and screenwriter (1911-2006)

"Freedom of expression must be considered sacred and thought can only be corrected by counter thought."

Egyptian novelist and screenwriter (1911-2006)

"Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books, for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen."

Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher (1135-1204)

"My Alma mater was books, a good library... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity."

"Autobiograhy of Malcolm X."
Militant black leader in the United States (1925-1965)

"The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses."

Militant black leader in the United States (1925-1965)

"Words have no legs, yet they walk."

MALI proverb
(Bambara people)

"We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation, become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder 'censorship', we call it 'concern for commercial viability'."

American playwright and film director (1947-)

"In the 21st Century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right."

Nelson Rolihlahla MANDELA
South African political leader and president (1918-2013)

"A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special."

South African political leader and president (1918-2013)

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

South African political leader and president (1918-2013)

"Existing libraries, in their very being, seem to question the authority of those in power."

Index on Censorship
Argentinian-Canadian writer, editor and critic (1948-)

"Speech is civilization itself. The word, even the most contradictory word, preserves contact - it is silence which isolates."

Thomas MANN
The Magic Mountain

German novelist and essayist (1875-1955)

"Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them."

Thomas MANN
German novelist and essayist (1875-1955)

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds."

Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, and guitarist (1945-1981)

"Only oppression should fear the full exercise of freedom."

Cuban essayist, poet, and patriot, leader of the Cuban struggle for independence (1853-1895)

"In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others."

French biographer, novelist, and essayist (

"One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present."

Golda MEIR
Israeli political leader (

"If some books are deemed most baneful and their sale forbid, how then with deadlier facts, not dreams of doting men? Those whom books will hurt will not be proof against events. Events, not books should be forbid."

American author (1819-1891)

"Many times our rules are located in another time, another culture and the child has the right to challenge them, since they chose to be born on this earth. So the child has an opportunity to be curious, and they have to discover for themselves."

Rigoberta MENCHÚ TUM
Guatemalan social reformer (1959-)

"No one ever heard of the truth being enforced by law. Whenever the secular arm is called in to sustain an idea, whether new or old, it is always a bad idea, and not infrequently it is downright idiotic."

Henry Louis MENCKEN
American writer (1880-1956)

"The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think."

Henry Louis MENCKEN
American writer (1880-1956)

"As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman."


"The price paid for intellectual pacification is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind."

John Stuart MILL
On Liberty, 1859
British philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

"We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we are sure, stifling it would be an evil still."

John Stuart MILL
British philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."

John Stuart MILL
On Liberty, 1859
British philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

"Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind."

American author (1891-1980)

"If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you will do will surely obscure them. If you do not alarm anyone morally, you will yourself remain morally asleep. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift to the coming human hell."

Charles Wright MILLS
American sociologist (1916-62)

"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties."

English poet (1608-1674)

"Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image, but thee who destroys a good book, kills reason its self."

English poet (1608-1674)

"Thought control, like birth control, is best undertaken as long as possible before the fact."


"He who is afraid of a thing gives it power over him."


"Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this mission.".

American novelist (1931-)

"Read every day something no one else is reading. Think every day something no one else is thinking. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity."

Christopher MORLEY
American editor and author (1890-1957)

"You have not converted a man because you have silenced him."

1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn, english statesman and man of letters (1838-1923)


"A people which is able to say everything becomes able to do everything."

NAPOLEON Bonaparte
French general and emperor of France (1769-1821)

"We protest against unjust criticism, but we accept unearned applause."


"In our country we need schools, colleges, universities and libraries because seventy per cent of our people are illiterate. There are lots of mosques but very few schools."

Bangladishi physician, writer and womens rights activist

"It may be said that artist and censor differ in this wise: that the first is a decent mind in an indecent body and that the second is an indecent mind in a decent body."

George Jean NATHAN
The Autobiography of an Attitude
American editor and drama critic (1882-1958)

"You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep."

NAVAJO Proverb

"Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse."

Jawaharlal NEHRU
Indian statesman (1889-1964)

"Nobody believes the official spokesman... but everybody trusts an unidentified source."


"In Germany they came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

German Protestant churchman (1892-1984)

"A good library is a place, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet."

Samuel NIGER

"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies."

Friedrich Wilhelm NIETZSCHE
Human, All-too-Human
German philosopher (1844-1900)

"All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth."

Friedrich Wilhelm NIETZSCHE
German philosopher (1844-1900)


"As for the books you mention, here is my reply. If their content is in accordance with the book of Allah, we may do without them, for in that case the book of Allah more than suffices. If, on the other hand, they contain matter not in accordance with the book of Allah, there can be no need to preserve them. Proceed then, and destroy them."

Caliph, Letter dated 640 to the emir Amrou Ibn el-Ass about the Alexandria library scrolls

"Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always be the last resort of the boob and the bigot."

Eugene Gladstone O'NEILL
American playwright (1888-1953)

"As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress."

American physicist (1904-1967)

"Loss of liberty is inimical to all forms of literature... The fact is that certain themes cannot be celebrated in words, and tyranny is one of them. No one ever wrote a good book in praise of the Inquisition."

Eric Arthur Blair or George ORWELL
The Prevention of Literature
British novelist and essayist (1903-1950)

"Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing."

Eric Arthur Blair or George ORWELL
British novelist and essayist (1903-1950)

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

Eric Arthur Blair or George ORWELL
British novelist and essayist (1903-1950)

"Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose."

Eric Arthur Blair or George ORWELL
British novelist and essayist (1903-1950)

"Who controls the past controls the future and who controls the present controls the past."

Eric Arthur Blair or George ORWELL
British novelist and essayist (1903-1950)

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

Eric Arthur Blair or George ORWELL
British novelist and essayist (1903-1950)

"Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4. If that is granted, all else follows."

Eric Arthur Blair or George ORWELL
British novelist and essayist (1903-1950)

"Censorship is the commonest social blasphemy because it is mostly concealed, built into us by indolence, self-interest, and cowardice."

British playwright (1929-1994)

"Being Politically Correct means always having to say you're sorry."

Charles OSGOOD


"I know of no book which has been a source of brutality and sadisticconduct, both public and private, that can compare with the Bible."

Lord James PAGET
British Surgeon, pathologist (1814-1899)

"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

Thomas PAINE
Anglo-American political theorist and writer (1737-1809)

"Much talking is the cause of danger. Silence is the means of avoiding misfortune. The talkative parrot is shut up in a cage. Other birds, without speech, fly freely about."


"Thoughts are free and subject to no rule. On them rests the freedom of man, and they tower above the light of nature...create a new heaven, a new firmament, a new source of energy from which new arts flow."

Philippus Aureolus PARACELSUS
Swiss physician and alchemist, originally named Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493?-1541)

"All of us can think of a book... that we hope none of our children or any other children have taken off the shelf. But if I have the right to remove that book from the shelf - that work I abhor - then you also have exactly the same right and so does everyone else. And then we have no books left on the shelf for any of us."

Katherine PATERSON
American author of childrens books (1932-)

"What sets worlds in motion is the interplay of differences, their attractions and repulsions; life is plurality, death is uniformity. "

Octavio PAZ
Mexican poet and critic (1914–1998)

"Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it."

Athenian statesman (c. 495–429 B.C.)

"Henceforth it will be the task of this Sacred Congregation not only to examine carefully the books denounced to it, to prohibit them if necessary, and to grant permission for reading forbidden books, but also to supervise, ex officio, books that are being published, and to pass sentence on such as deserve to be prohibited."

Decree to the Congregation of the Index of Prohibited Books, 29 June, 1908

The 32nd edition of the Index, published in 1948 included 4000 titles.
Index was suppressed in 1966
Pope (1835-1914)

"... once a thing is committed to writing it circulates equally among those who understand the subject and those who have no business with it; a writing cannot distinguish between suitable and unsuitable readers. And if it is ill-treated or unfairly abused it always needs its parent to come to its rescue."

Phaedrus (ca. 370 BC)
Greek philosopher (427?-347 BC)

"Fuck the censors. They're prepostreous; an imposition on society. Who the hell do they think they are telling me what I can read or see? Who are these people who are allowed to watch all this? What do you do with them at the end? Lock them up in an insane asylum? Put them in prison because they've become a danger to society or to themselves? Or should we give them compensation for exposing themselves to images, like we do to people who get exposed to radiation?"

Index on Censorship
Polish-American film director and screenwriter (1933-)

"Properly, we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one's hand."

Ezra Loomis POUND
American poet, critic, and translator (1885-1972)


"Lying is done with words and also with silence."

Adrienne RICH
American poet (1929-2012)

"Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him."

Chief minister of LOUIS XIII of France (1585-1642)

"Libraries are the concert halls of the finest voices gathered from all times and places."


"We're drowning in information and starving for knowledge."

Rutherford D. ROGERS
American librarian, Yale University

"The gains in education are never really lost. Books may be burned and cities sacked, but truth, like the yearning for freedom, lives in the hearts of humble men."

Franklin Delano ROOSEVELT
32d President of the United States (1882-1945)

"The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history."

Carl Thomas ROWAN
American journalist (1925-2000)

"Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself."

Indian-born British novelist (1947-)

"Free societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence."

Indian-born British novelist (1947-)

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."

Indian-born British novelist (1947-)

"A book is the product of a contract with the Devil that inverts the Faustian contract, he'd told Allie. Dr Faustus sacrificed eternity in return for two dozen years of power; the writer agrees to the ruination of his life, and gains (but only if he's lucky) maybe not eternity, but posterity, at least. Either way (this was Jumpy's point) it's the Devil who wins."

The Satanic Verses
Indian-born British novelist (1947-)

"Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, more than ruin, more even than death.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man."

Bertrand Arthur William RUSSELL
British philosopher, mathematician, and social reformer (1872-1970)

"I pray that no child of mine would ever descend into such a place as a library. They are indeed most dangerous places and unfortunate is she or he who is lured into such a hellhole of enjoyment, stimulus, facts, passion and fun."



"In my mind, prison became associated with love. Whenever I heard of a man who was or had been in prison, I felt my heart beating beneath my ribs."

Egyptian author, on the jailing of intellectuals

"He who learns, and makes no use of his learning, is a beast of burden with a load of books. Does the ass comprehend whether he carries on his back a library or a bundle of faggots? "

Moslih Eddin SAADI
Persian poet (1184-1291)

"Just as the office worker dreams of murdering his hated boss and so is saved from really murdering him, so it is with the author; with his great dreams he helps his readers to survive, to avoid their worst intentions. And society, without realizing it respects and even exalts him, albeit with a kind of jealousy, fear and even repulsion, since few people want to discover the horrors that lurk in the depths of their souls. This is the highest mission of great literature, and there is no other."

Ernesto SÁBATO
Argentinian novelist and literary critic (1911-2011)

"You say that my way of thinking cannot be tolerated? What of it? The man who alters his way of thinking to suit others is a fool. My way of thinking is the result of my reflections. It is part of my inner being, the way I am made. I do not contradict them, and would not even if I wished to. For my system, which you disapprove of, is also my greatest comfort in life, the source of all my happiness - it means more to me than my life itself."

(Donatien Alphonse François comte de Sade) Marquis de SADE
French writer and libertine (1740-1814)

"All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value."

American astronomer and popularizer of science (1934-1996)

"... literacy is the way which turns slavery into freedom. There are many types of slavery and many types of freedom. But reading keeps being the way."

American astronomer and popularizer of science (1934-1996)

"The censure of those who are opposed to us, is the highest commendation that can be given us."

Charles de Marguetel de Saint-Denis de SAINT-ÉVREMOND
French critic, writer, and soldier (1616?-1703)

"I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind."

French aviator and writer (1900-1944)

"Intellectual freedom is the only guarantee of a scientific - democratic approach to politics, economic development, and culture."

Andrei Dmitrievich SAKHAROV
Soviet nuclear physicist and human-rights advocate (1921-1989)

"Intellectual freedom is essential to human society. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships."

Andrei Dmitrievich SAKHAROV
Soviet nuclear physicist and human-rights advocate (1921-1989)

"A library is thought in cold storage."

Herbert Louis SAMUEL
British statesman (1870-1963)

"Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world."

German philosopher, b. Danzig (1788-1860)

"All truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed, Second it is violently opposed, Third it is accepted as being self-evident."

German philosopher, b. Danzig (1788-1860)

"It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper."

American comedian and actor (1955-)

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

Hamlet, 1602
English dramatist and poet (1564-1616)

"Art made tongue-tied by authority."

English dramatist and poet (1564-1616)

"The ultimate form of censorship is assassination."

George Bernard SHAW
Irish playwright and critic (1856-1950)

"Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads."

George Bernard SHAW
Irish playwright and critic (1856-1950)

"All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships."

George Bernard SHAW
Irish playwright and critic (1856-1950)

"All great truths begin as blasphemies."

George Bernard SHAW
Irish playwright and critic (1856-1950)

"He who would acquire fame must not show himself afraid of censure. The dread of censure is the death of genius."

William Gilmore SIMMS
American novelist (1806-1870)

"People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share,
And no one dare disturb the Sound of Silence."

Sounds of Silence
American folk-rock duo 1962-1970

"False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil."

Greek philosopher of Athens (469-399 B.C.)

"I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think."

Greek philosopher of Athens (469-399 B.C.)

"In our country, the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State."

Aleksandr Isayevich SOLZHENITSYN
Russian writer (1918-2008)

"Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of 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."

Aleksandr Isayevich SOLZHENITSYN
Russian writer (1918-2008)

"A great writer is, so to speak, a second government in his country. And for that reason no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones."

Aleksandr Isayevich SOLZHENITSYN
Russian writer (1918-2008)

"I am confident, of course, knowing that I shall fulfill my tasks as a writer in any circumstances, and from my grave even more successfully and incontestably than when I live. No one can bar truth's course, and for its progress I am prepared to accept even death. But perhaps repeated lessons will teach us, at least, not to arrest a writer's pen during his lifetime."

Aleksandr Isayevich SOLZHENITSYN
Russian writer (1918-2008)

"The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism."

Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, and political activist (1934-)

"Censorship is the unintended underlining through the intended crossing out (Zensur ist ungewollte Unterstreichung durch gewollte Streichung )."

Martin SPERR
German playwright

"The most tyrannical of governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts."

"Ethics" (1677)
Dutch philosopher (1632–77)

"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas."

Joseph Vissarionovich STALIN
Soviet Communist leader and head of the USSR (

"This I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual."

American writer (1902-1968)

"A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular."

Vice President of the United States (1835-1914)

"Freedom rings where opinions clash."

Vice President of the United States (1835-1914)

"To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive."

Robert Louis STEVENSON
Scottish novelist, poet, and essayist (1850-1894)

"Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself."

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1915-1985)

"Freedom of the press, or, to be more precise, the benefit of freedom of the press, belongs to everyone -- to the citizen as well as the publisher. ... The crux is not the publisher's 'freedom to print'; it is, rather, the citizen's 'right to know.' "

Arthur Sulzburger
American newspaper publisher


"The essential support and encouragement comes from within, arising out of the mad notion that your society needs to know what only you can tell it.."

American author and  poet (1932-2009)


"Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right."

Sir Laurens VAN DER POST
South African writer (1906-1996)

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it."

Francois Marie Arouet VOLTAIRE
The Friends of Voltaire, 1907
French philosopher and writer (1694-1778)

"It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."

Francois Marie Arouet VOLTAIRE
French philosopher and writer (1694-1778)

"The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all."

Francois Marie Arouet VOLTAIRE
French philosopher and writer (1694-1778)

"We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard."

Francois Marie Arouet VOLTAIRE
Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764
French philosopher and writer (1694-1778)

"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!"

American novelist (1922-)


"Knowledge is the only fountain both of love and the principles of human liberty."

American statesman, lawyer, and orator (1782-1852)

"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo."

Herbert George WELLS
English author (1866-1946)

"I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it."

American stage and movie comedienne (1893-1980)

"There were a lot of things the censors wouldn't let me do in the movies that I had done on stage. They wouldn't even let me sit on a guy's lap and I'd been on more laps than a napkin."

American stage and movie comedienne (1893-1980)

"There is a point, and it is reached more easily than is supposed, where interference with freedom of the arts and literature becomes an attack on the life of society."

Dame Rebecca WEST
Irish novelist and critic (1892-1983)

"Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind."

General and U.S. military commander (1914-)

"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 inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."

Essays on Education
U.S. educator and historian (1906-1963)

"There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all."

Oscar Fingall O'Flahertie Wills WILDE
The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Irish author and wit (1854-1900)

"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."

Oscar Fingall O'Flahertie Wills WILDE
The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Irish author and wit (1854-1900)

"If they give you lined paper, write the other way."

William Carlos WILLIAMS
American poet and physician (1883-1963)

"I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."

Woodrow WILSON
28th President of the United States (1856-1924)

"Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."

Virginia (Stephen) WOOLF
English novelist and essayist (1882-1941)


"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

William Butler YEATS
Irish poet and playwright (1865-1939)

"Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers."

Yevgeny Aleksandrovich YEVTUSHENKO
Russian Poet  (1933-2017)

"In Russia all tyrants believe poets to be their worst enemies."

Yevgeny Aleksandrovich YEVTUSHENKO
Russian Poet  (1933-2017)


"The language and concepts contained herein are guaranteed not to cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business."

(Francis Vincent) Frank ZAPPA
U.S. singer and songwriter (1940-1993)

"Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it...Rise for the flag, salute."

(Francis Vincent) Frank ZAPPA
U.S. singer and songwriter (1940-1993)

Last update: 30 October 2018

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