Censorship has been a major part of American history. From biblical times to present day, people in positions of power, government officials, and private individuals have consistently wanted to suppress materials they consider to be unacceptable. Fortunately, there are also heroes in history who fight against censorship and for the freedom of speech. There are authors and publishers who have dared to defy the restrictions of their culture in order to reveal truth in their writings, and there are groups that exist that defend the First Amendment through legal action. As a result, more beautiful literature exists and the judicial term for "obscenity" becomes more limited. D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover was declared "obscene" and was the object of numerous obscenity trials up into the 1960's. .
Going back to Greek philosophers, Socrates had been charged with the worship of strange gods and with the corruption of the youth he taught. Socrates believed that he would rather die than not be able to voice his opinions so he calmly drank the poison (hemlock) and then sat with his friends in philosophical conversation (Zueschner 17). Ironically his disciple Plato was for intellectual, religious, and artistic censorship.
Plato is one of the many that believed that censorship was necessary especially amongst children. He argued that artistic representations have a strong impact on the formation of character. He believed that even if the tales told are true, they should not be taught to "thoughtless young people." Plato writes, "A child cannot distinguish the allegorical sense from the literal, and the ideas he takes in at that age are likely to become indelibly fixed; hence the great importance of seeing that the first stories he hears shall be designed to produce the best possible effect on his character" (372). Though some form of censorship is needed when it comes to what children are exposed to, the question is: Where is the line drawn? According to philosopher John Stuart Mill, the decision on whether to permit or ban actions and speech should be based on whether that action or speech harms someone else (383).