March 15, 2000

On this day in 2000, the censor lifted a ban on more than two thirds–about 400–of the books forbidden in Ireland, after an appeal by the Labour Party. Book bans in Ireland officially began in 1929, when the Censorship of Publications Board was created. Behind this censorship is the idea that art, rather than serving as an outlet for emotional catharsis and reflection, should exist only to demonstrate established virtues to society. Though the board’s thinking is rightly attributed to Catholic moral doctrine, this attitude towards the arts can actually be traced as far back as Plato. Books which were at one time banned in Ireland include Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” and John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”

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