Book Burning and Censorship - Preface

Book Burning and Censorship - Preview Image

In 1207, when a dispute developed between Dominic de Guzman (later known as St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order) and the Albigensians, books from both sides were thrown into the fire.  Pedro Berruguete (a Spanish painter) created a panel, c. 1495, to depict that event. This image depicts a section of that panel.  Online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

 

Wherever they burn books 
they will also, in the end, 
burn human beings.


Heinrich Heine 
From his 1821 German-language play Almansor

Say the words "First Amendment" to Americans and most will immediately think "Free Speech." But the first amendment encompasses much more than merely allowing us to speak what we think.

First Amendment rights protect the entire process of thought and the creation and expression of ideas. When we think, our minds use reason to create ideas.

We express those ideas in many different ways: When we talk; when we write; when we believe; when we assemble; when we petition the government. All these actions, and expressions, are protected by the first amendment.

This story will help explain why America's founding fathers put freedom of thought and expression as the first right in the Bill of Rights. We can also look to Thomas Jefferson for an answer. As a proponent of a free country and a free people, Jefferson realized that oppression of ideas had been a cause of persecution in Europe for centuries.

 

 
 
Original Release Date:  August, 2000
Updated August, 2012

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