Quotes advocating censorship
April 11, 2006 8:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for quotes from famous nasty-folk saying, roughly, that the people can't be trusted with information 'cuz they'll misinterpret it.

The local school board is refusing to release full scores of departmental examinations for children, in part on the basis that the scores themselves "do not provide enough information to fully evaluate teachers" or words to that effect. I'd like to emphasize that such luminaries as Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Goerring, Georrbels, Brezhnev, Castro etc. have expressed similarly patronizing attitudes. A few quotes along the lines of "You can't handle the truth!", are what I'm looking for. Thanks for your consideration.
posted by ykjay to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Knowledge is ruin to my young men. I think that was one of hitler's
posted by subtle-t at 8:30 AM on April 11, 2006

Exactly the opposite of what you wanted, but this is a nice quote on why censorship should *not* be tolerated:

"The function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it invites a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it passes for acceptance of an idea."
- Justice William O. Douglas

Check out this page for a long list of quotes on censorship, many of which may help. More censorship quotes here and here.

There's also Madison (from the last link above):
"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."
posted by robhuddles at 9:29 AM on April 11, 2006

Oh, bother.

Some Old English guy argued against translating the Bible into Old English because the common people would misinterpret parts--like they would think that they could have lots of wives, from reading the Old Testament. A little searching identifies him as Aelfric, but I can't find the exact quote.

Much of the whole Reformation/Counter-Reformation was over whether people needed higher authority to interpret the Bible for them--but I'm no church history scholar, and I don't know any specifics.
posted by Jeanne at 9:37 AM on April 11, 2006

"Inasmuch as it is manifest from experience that if the Holy Bible, translated into the vulgar tongue, be indiscriminately allowed to every one, the rashness of men will cause more evil than good to arise from it . . . " --Pope Pius IV

Not exactly pithy (or Goebbels either).
posted by MasonDixon at 9:43 AM on April 11, 2006

"I'm glad I'm not Brezhnev. Being the Russian leader in the Kremlin. You never know if someone's tape recording what you say." - Richard Nixon
posted by Pollomacho at 9:44 AM on April 11, 2006

Hitler is often quoted as saying

"What luck for rulers that men do not think."

I haven't found an exact source for that, though.
posted by Miko at 12:49 PM on April 11, 2006

"No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby." -
H. L. Mencken
posted by spasm at 6:39 PM on April 11, 2006

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