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In Fahrenheit 451 (1953), there is no freedom in this futuristic society. (Ray Bradbury wrote this book in response to McCarthyism and the censorship of artistic expression in America at that time.)
The most obvious and central oppression in the novel is against the owning or reading of books. Guy Montag, the protagonist, is a fireman whose job it is to burn books—and sometimes the homes that contain these books.
This society controls everything, including what people know and learn, and therefore it also controls their thinking and behavior, for one cannot think and behave as a "growing entity" without knowledge. (This behavior is also reminiscent of Hitler and his burning of books during his tyrannical move throughout Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. As seen then, and in this book, the loss of knowledge—of intellectual freedom—leads to self-annihilation.)
Don't step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchant, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy (57).
This quote, eerily reflective of today's society, explains what brought about the banning of books: people were robbed of the right to think, speak, and write freely because of the people who were offended by free thoughts and free speech.
Even today, what is "politically correct" becomes not only awkward, but, in some cases, ridiculous. "Political correctness" has become the tail that wags the dog, and something is lost in trying to please everyone. In many ways, no one is satisfied, and what needs to be addressed is sometimes left unsaid, or "cleaned up" so that what is said lacks conviction, and, therefore, credibility. After all, if Thomas Paine or Thomas Jefferson had been concerned with "political correctness," where would we be today?
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