One of our lectures focused on Ranchod’s letter which had an interesting conclusion. Despite the short-lived rebellion and proclamation as King, Ranchod’s message was spread much farther than many expected. This got me thinking about other figures that we had focused on in this quarter. Namely, Gandhi and Savarkar as both their works had been censored by the British Empire. Censorship has had a long history and still exists today. It has taken many different forms in the modern era but it still functions the same as its past counterpart.
“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” – George R. R. Martin
Savarkar’s Indian War of Independence 1857 and Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj were both banned by the empire but when Gandhi translated his from Gujarati to English, the Empire did not ban it. The interesting thing here is that because of the censorship of the books, many sought to find them. Both people were on the opposite end of the spectrum when it came to how they believed was the best way of dealing with the British Empire occupying India. Savarkar advocated violence whereas Gandhi believed non-violence was the best approach. Many different Empires fell because they began to censor the ideas of their subjects. The starting censorship of these ideas is what led to the eventual freedom from British rule in India. But why is that the case?
When ideas become stifled and censored, many congregate to rise against the Empire. As YouTuber Philip DeFranco said, “When you cut out a man’s tongue, you make his words matter that much more.” This quote came from one of his videos where he talks about Milo Yiannopoulos‘s potential book sale. Yiannopolos is a well known controversial figure and whether you hate him or love him, people talking about banning the books starts to influences those that are “on the fence” as well as provide publicity. Many companies use the idea that “there is no such thing as bad publicity” to further their message and give free advertisement.
Censorship prevents many from seeing what the message is but because it is no longer visible, many will go great lengths to see what it is about. One of the biggest censorship types is media censorship. So much information is distributed in such a short amount of time that information becomes wide-spread. The problem is that some of the media outlets will censor key points to completely change the original message. A good percentage of the people who view the media will take it as truth and not bother to look further into the subject. Also, many different news stations are inherently biased and will make specific situations look better or worse depending on their stance.
Censorship effectively destroys the original message or gets rid of it altogether. Through its usage, the altered idea is then spread to the entirety of the empire and ideas become ruined. It carves out specific portions to consume and molds us to think a specific way. Those that are capable of challenging those ideas are in the minority as many in the majority will be none the wiser. Censorship may bring about the ruin of empire but it will always bring ruin to its subjects.