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Democracy is founded on the principles of autonomy of the individual and faith in the competency and fundamental rational nature of all human beings Using these principles as the major premises of my argument I will attempt to demonstrate that censorship and book banning are impermissible because they violate the freedoms necessary for preserving democracy and the liberty that accompanies that democracy According to traditional democratic theory as described by leading American theorist Robert Dahl an ideal democratic process must satisfy certain essential criteria--one being enlightened understanding Enlightened understanding requires that the citizens are well educated Free press and free speech are critical to civic understanding Citizens must have open access to all ideas so that they may come to a deep understanding of critical issues In order for the public to properly form opinions and make decisions it must be well informed on all sides of a particular issue Therefore for a society to be considered democratic it must be a free marketplace for the open exchange of ideas Edwards 14-15 In John Stuart Mills classic work On Liberty he argues as I do that protecting freedom of speech is of vital social importance Freedom of speech is invaluable because it provides human beings with securities against oppression by allowing them to use their natural faculties of reason and logic to develop their own beliefs--this way the public cannot be manipulated by biased information As rational human beings each person has an unalienable right to freedom of expression without fear of punishment For these reasons censorship is intolerable because it jeopardizes democracy by not allowing the public free access to knowledge which is essential to preserving the liberty characteristic of a true democracy Censorship violates humanitys natural autonomy in that it denies an individual an uninfluenced choice in formulating his or her beliefs Even if the most intelligent human beings are very sure in respect to the truth of an idea
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