Censorship of Ideas in Hillsboro
Censorship can be defined as the regulation of information and ideas within a society. It targets information that may be considered offensive or discourteous to the public. In the play, Inherit the Wind, written by Jerome Lawrence, and Robert E. Lee, censorship is evident throughout the entire community of Hillsboro. Hillsboro shows that freedom of thought is strictly limited to the belief of creationism and Christianity, and if one does not comply with this rule, it will result in a punishment. Due to the disciplinary rules of the town, education on other beliefs is forbidden, for it is not considered “correct.” Lastly, the powerful ruling of Reverend Brown imposes rules and regulations which the citizens are expected to obey, without any objections. In the town of Hillsboro, townspeople are forced to live in a restricted environment due to the censorship of ideas.
The confined neighbourhood of Hillsboro limits the freedom of thought among its citizens. Throughout the play, knowledge is constantly being censored, which limits the right to think. During the trial, Drummond is determined to allow everyone in Hillsboro to have the right to think. He felt the need to “stop (the) bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States” (Lawrence, Lee. 87). By lifting the constrains on education, the opportunity to learn other beliefs will open for the people of Hillsboro, which in return, will help the townspeople become more welcoming to others. The value of a person's ability to think and create ideas is crucial if one wishes to move forward. Drummond illustrates that “an idea is a greater monument than a cathedral” (Lawrence, Lee.83). He demonstrates the potential of the human mind to suppress the influences of religion. The townspeople of Hillsboro have been taught to obey Christianity, but they have also grown used to detecting “flaws” in other beliefs. However, if the power of the human mind is able to stifle religion, one would be able to think clearly and be open to other beliefs. In short, freedom of thought is prohibited in the town of Hillsboro, creating a repressive environment.
Furthermore, having the right to think will dispel fear amongst the townspeople and they will also develop an understanding for other religions. Hence, eliminating biased opinions toward other beliefs and religions, and creating an open-minded community. Drummond emphasizes the importance of having the right to think during the trial. The people of Hillsboro are narrowed minded, and are not open to other ideas. When Drummond wishes to put scientific experts on the witness stand, the judge dismisses his proposition, which displays the unwillingness of Hillsboro's citizens to talk and think about evolution (Lawrence, Lee. 72-74). The townspeople fear leaving what they are accustomed to, and hearing the unfamiliar. Rachel is a good example of this because in the beginning of the novel, she pleads with Bertram Cates to admit that he “didn't mean to break a law” (Lawrence, Lee. 7), she simply wishes Cates to be “on the right side of things” (Lawrence, Lee. 8), which is siding with what the townspeople believe in. Later on in the play, Rachel realizes the significance of thinking, when she reads Darwin's work and accepts the theory of evolution. She reveals that one can cast off their fear, and become tolerant and open-minded to other beliefs. As a result, fear and biased conceptions can be subsided to loosen the restrictions on Hillsboro.
Moreover, in the town of Hillsboro, people are not exposed to other beliefs, limiting the experiences of the townspeople to what is in Hillsboro. Exposure to other beliefs is not tolerated in Hillsboro because “there is a law against it” (Lawrence, Lee. 7) indicating that evolution must not be taught in classrooms. The townspeople only have an open-mind to Christianity, and they disregard any other religions. Since the