Kirstie Lang


Censorship is commonly posited in opposition to free speech. However, censorship can also be understood as a kind of freedom, one which enables us to participate in collective decisions to control speech. Social and political theorist Isaiah Berlin has written of these two kinds of liberties as integral to Iiberal, democratic traditions which, problematic though they sometimes are, continue to inform the foundations of policymaking in Western, post-industrial democracies (Berlin, 1969; Dworkin, 1991). In this paper I describe these two forms of liberty as interconnected by democratic theory, but as simultaneously contradictory given the values that support them. Doing so can provide a context for the value clashes that give rise to censorship. I then explain three kinds of censorship and conclude with various ways a liberal concept of freedom is being challenged, as well as reasons why it can inform the inevitable tensions that arise when dealing with art, education, and feminism.


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