"Thought Control"

Herschel E. Patton
Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

Newspaper editors are protesting the efforts of Arthur Sylvester, assistant Defense Secretary in charge of Public affairs, whom they charge with censorship controls. An editorial in the November 3, 1962 Nashville Banner says:

"There is no room in the United States Government for a Dr. Goebbels--or a Propaganda Ministry dictating by press censorship or otherwise what the people shall be told or what they shall think." According to The Banner, such has been branded by V. M. Newton, Jr., managing editor of the Tampa Tribune as "Outrageous, and outright thought control."

The Banner editorial goes on to say "The United States needs no single man in Washington to direct its thinking in any crisis; and it is as absurd as it is offensive to suggest arrogating such powers in order to 'preserve a single voice for the Commander-in Chief.' The authoritarian clamp thus proposed would be exactly what a dictatorship, not a free government, would wish. . ."

"The very suggestion of 'managed' news, with any agency of government at the strings of that straitjacket, has a sound exactly as sinister as the idea itself. It is a device beyond the security secrets ostensibly involved. When it occurs, the light goes out--and a concerned nation, far more endangered by what it does not know than by knowing, voices an emphatic 'NO'..."

"The American people are not sheep to be mind-conditioned or thought-controlled, or lulled by tranquilizers spoon-fed by Dr. Sylvester according to his diagnosis of the case. Nor will the press submit to this prostitution of its historic role"

The Religious Realm

I believe the Press is to be commended for its stand on this matter and I only wish religious people were Ws concerned about their rights. Religious people need to study and to think for themselves rather than have their thoughts controlled by a few religious officials, editors, or preachers who would like to shut out all means of dispersing information except their own. People who have long believed in study, investigation, and examination will resent all such action.

When the medium of communication is blocked, either by censorship or prejudice, we have the condition pictured by Jesus of "The blind leading the blind" and both "falling into the ditch.

Using Means

People with deep-seated convictions, and obligated by the Scriptures to propagate "The Faith" and "pull down strong holds," may use various means for spreading their teaching. They may use individual contact, a radio program, ads in newspapers, the U.S. Mail Service, etc.

lt is evil for those who may be opposed to a certain product or teaching to attribute sinister motives to those using legitimate means to acquaint people with their goods or teaching.

Censorship, Imposed by Self or Others

Some religionists have been know to exercise pressure on radio stations and newspapers to stop a certain program on the station or ads in the paper. Of course, the people who objected could turn their dial, refuse to read an ad, or cancel their subscription. But in such cases, usually, it is not the LISTENERS OR READERS who are disturbed, but THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS. Being unable to meet the arguments and fearing the loss of followers, they attack the motives and character of those whom they oppose.

Until recent years, our brethren have felt it more honorable to meet the arguments made by anyone head-on, with Scripture, and called upon people everywhere to read, listen debate, and weigh every argument by the Scriptures. The church grew rapidly when this was done. But after a while, our efforts were hampered when the exponents of religious error convinced their followers it was wrong to debate--that they should not listen to or read after anyone who questioned another's beliefs, and succeeded, in many instances, in getting radio and newspaper contracts cancelled.

Occasionally we get a request from someone to drop them from our mailing list (for the church bulletin). We always comply with the request, though with sorrow for me know when people refuse to study and investigate, they are set on a dangerous course. When people refuse to hear or read that which conflicts with their own views, they cannot be said to be noble, as the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11). When people submit to 'the dictates of a pope, priest, editor, preacher, or group, letting them decide what they are to hear or read, they are likely to "follow a multitude to do evil."

Our efforts to teach privately, publicly, by radio, press, U.S. Mail, etc. are legal and honorable. We recognize the right of each person to turn off his radio, cancel his subscription, refuse to attend a service, and ask to be dropped from a mailing list, and we respect these rights. It is our earnest desire and prayer, however, that people will always keep their minds open for study and investigation.

Truth Magazine VII: 7, pp. 17, 24
April 1963