Censorship Essay, Research Paper
Censsorship Senior EnglishMrs. Richardson22 June 1999 Censorship is the control of communication betweenpeople. This includes restricions on what can be seen andheard. Mostly, censorship is practiced byGoverments. But religious andpolitical leaders and specialinterest groups also try to controlthe flow of information. (Berger 1)Censorship violates individual rights, hides usefulinformation, and limits freedom of speech. The four major types of censorship are moral, military,political, and religious. The most common type is moralcensorship which restricts obscene material. Moralcensorship tries to maily protect children from corruption. The problem with moral censorship is the narrowingdefinition of obscenity. Military censorship occurs mainlyin wartime, and is used to protect national security. Military censors have the authority to read the mail ofservice men and women. The censors can hold informationfrom the press as well. Political censorship is used bygoverments that do not accept opposing ideas. Democraciesdo not officially permit censorship, but many try to censorradical ideas (Lieberman 346). Religious censorshiphappens in countries where the goverment is close to areligion or where religious feeling run high. Individual rights are written in the Bill of Rightssection of the Constitution. The first amendment grants thefreedom of the press, speech, and religion. The firstamendment also grants that the media is immune fromgoverment control or censorship. A way to preserveindividual rights is for goverment agencies to have littleor no interaction with individual persons. For example, bypolice examining personal information. One act whichviolates individual rights is the Police and CriminalEvidence Act. The act makes it legal for police to legallyread e-mail and access personal information held by InternetService Providers. The act was created before the internetwas ever put to use on a wide scale. The act violatesindividual rights because it allows authorities access tocensor material from the recipients of the e-mail. The main censorship that hides useful information ismoral censorship. Moral censorship hides information thatcan help people learn about different ideas and alternativelifestyles. Moral censorship is used to protect children. Restricting obscene material only makes it harder and moredesireable to obtain it. Obscene material was oncerestricted for most of the country. In this day and age, amajority of small town convenience stores carry literaturewhich is deemed as obscene. Material that is considered
obscene to others may be useful to some. An anatomy bookwhich fully described the functions of the male and femalesexual organs has the ability to teach readers aboutthemselves, while it also has the ability to be banned at aschool library. Another example are history books which maytell of fierce dictators and horrible wars. The books canbe banned anywhere, but they also can teach people how tochange and how to learn from mistakes. Hiding this type ofuseful information only hurts people by not allowing them tolearn about different ways of the world. Freedom of speech is a basic freedom that enablespeople to voice their opinions. Many court cases haveestablished the precedents for freedom of speech. In Nearv. Minnesota, freedom of speech was defined to mean that thepress is to be free from prior restraint or censorship. Political censorship tries to limit the freedom of speech. This is because speeches or writings are thought to lead toviolence. Freedom of speech would be meaningless if proircensorship could be exercised (Greenberg, Plano 58). Theonly exception to this is that a film may be given ratingsbefore they are shown. There is no scientific evidence thatviolence in the media leads to violence in real lifesituations. Freedom of speech needs to be exercised moreoften without being put to trial. Censorship has many solutions. Parents need to havemore power to restrict obscene material from their children. This will help bring morals back into households. Problemsof violence are chiefly created at home because morals arenot as strong as they used to be. Also, material should notbe prohibited unless it is absolutely necessary. Materialis only necessary to be censored in wartime for reasons ofnational security. Parental warnings should also be placedon every obscene piece of material in publication. Thiswill help warn parents what their children are listening toand help salespeople with what they are selling. Censorship has been a topic long discussed with peoplesopinions rarely changing. Positive censorship developsculture (McKeon 1089). There is hope that censorship willpromote a positive attitude in that the morals will berevitalized. Current censorship needs to change in manyways for it to be more effective. Censorship has theability to protect citizens when used correctly althoughcurrent censorship represses communication.
Berger, Melvin. Censorship. New York: A Grolier Company, Inc., 1982. Greenberg, Milton and Jack C. Plano. The American Political Dictionary. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1965. (58, 82) Lieberman, Jethro K. Censorship. The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol. 3 Chicago: World Book, Inc., 1994, (346) McKeon, Richard Censorship. Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 3 Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1978 (1083-1090)