In response to #2 -- Regarding the last Administration's argument that "If you're not doing anything wrong, what's the problem with someone checking to make sure?" statement -- The fact that the question is even seriously considered indicates a profound erosion of the concept of individual rights upon which these United States were founded. It's an argument that's been used for centuries to expand the powers of government and proportionally contract the freedoms of individuals. In recent time, it's been used in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, however innocuous at first, to disenfranchise and destroy people on governmental whim. Sadly, now we do it. This country was different -- our founding documents were not just a list of freedoms, they were restrictions on governmental powers. Somehow it became thought that these were the only rights you get. Other way around -- these are the powers government has -- and no more!! But our government has grown to regulate education, commerce, healthcare ,etc. Ever expanding government, be it Fascist, Communist, Socialist, or Democratic, leads to the same end -- Totalitarianism. If people sacrifice what individual and natural rights each possesses for the perceived security and safety of what they think government will provide, they get what they deserve. Consider "weapons of mass destruction." That's a news headline from straight out of 1984. It's not whether a world like F451 exists; the question is how do we check and then reverse the world's slide into the horror that these books present.
Yes. It's called North Korea. In that country, people know only what the government wants them to know.
Absolutely...everything is possible. If citizens continue to ignore what is going on around them in terms of government decisions and special-interest groups' missions, it is very possible that we could end up in some society similar to the one in Fahrenheit 451. Books are already banned, more are on the fence heading toward being banned, and groups want certain traditional aspects of our society extinguished as well--for instance, a minority group of our society is offended by the country's motto, "In God We Trust" and other Christian elements being printed on money, courthouses, city squares, and other public areas. Any time the majority remains silent and allows a minority group to make all the decisions, a society like the Nazi regime in Germany, the government in 1984 or the community of Fahrenheit 451 is not only possible, it is probable.
Well, if you mean as far as the totalitarian mentality is concerned, sure, I definitely believe it could be possible. Consider areas of the world that are still under strict control, such as China, Cuba, and North Korea. In some countries, public access to the internet is blocked, so as to keep out influences from the outside. Additionally, many books, movies, and other types of media are strictly banned as well, as they promote or condone ideas that go against the government's philosophy.
What would happen if someone in North Korea decided to have an rally against Kim Jong Il? Would she be allowed to continue once the government saw what was going on? Or, could someone in Cuba promote their own political ideas, even to the extent of forming a new party? While we've made great strides in the world as far as promoting human rights and protecting basic freedoms where they already exist, there is still much to be done.
Bradbury's warning that allowing governments to censor even just minor things could lead to a society such as that described in F451 still rings true today; just look at the outrage over privacy concerns with the government's Homeland Security Administration... especially the rights granted the government in the Patriot Act. How many of the founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they read that piece of legislation? Then again, how many of us see the need for it and appreciate it? If you're not doing anything wrong, what's the problem with someone checking to make sure? It's all good food for thought. How much freedom do we give up, in order to protect what we have left?