The Argument Against Licensing In John Milton's Areopagitica

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In modern day, we often take the privilege of free speech for granted. The concept that people can voice and publish their ideas, no matter how offensive or dangerous to an establishment they might be, seems ordinary now, but for centuries, it was very radical. John Milton’s 1664 speech, “Areopagitica,” was one of the earliest oppositions to the age-old suppression of threatening beliefs. In “Areopagitica,” Milton speaks about how detrimental licensing, the banning of books before publication, is. John Milton is correct in his argument against licensing because licensing will not protect the world from corruption, it will only take away the opportunity to learn.
One of the arguments made against licensing in the book is that those who are pure stay pure, even after reading a sinful piece of literature. Milton says, “‘To the pure all things are pure,’ … all kind of knowledge whether good or evil;
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Licensing is typically done by any group or person in power or with privilege, against anything that is a threat to that power or privilege. By licensing a piece of literature, the licensers are preventing the public from accessing new ideas and perspectives, not just sinful ideas, which is pernicious because it causes people to become ignorant. Moreover, in terms of how the book is experienced on a larger timeline, licensing is even more detrimental; once the author and the licenser who read the text initially have died, the viewpoint and reason in that text have died alongside them. Milton is correct when he says, “who kills man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image, but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself…” because a man is someone who holds wisdom inside of himself but a book is the embodiment of this wisdom and reason (102). Killing a man is killing a finite thing, but killing a book is killing an immortal piece of insight into a man’s mind. By licensing, one is, essentially, doing just

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