Censorship In The Media Essay, Research Paper
censorship in the media
Censorship has become far too common in today’s society. It has been,
and is being misused. The following paper discusses this controversial
subject and it’s related effects to certain groups in our society.
The freedom to read is essential to the democratic way of life.
But today, that freedom is under attack. Private groups and public
authorities everywhere are working to remove both books and periodicals
from sale, to exclude certain books from public schools, to censor and
silence magazines and newspapers, and to limit “controversial” books and
periodicals to the general public (Callwood).
The suppression of reading material is the suppression of creative
thought. Books and periodicals are not the only ones being suppressed by
pressures to the political and social systems. They are also being
brought against the educational system, film, radio, television, and
against the graphic and theater arts. Whenever these attacks occur, they
usually fall under at least one of the following categories: religion,
war and peace, sociology and race, language, drugs, sex, and
inappropriate adolescent behavior (Jenkins).
What is obscenity? Clearly something hard to talk about
constructively. Honestly, “obscenity” is a difficult topic to discuss.
After all, what makes a thing obscene? It is something to vague to be
defined. It’s an elusive term we use, but can’t explain. Different
people often see things differently. Some see obscenity in nude
pictures, statues, paintings, etc. While others find less obscenity in
these things. All the same, “obscene” isn’t the same as “wrong” or
“bad”. Clearly obscenity is not identical with evil. It only covers a
single segment of it. But what is that segment? A look at the words
“obscenity” and “pornography” suggests that it is a segment that didn’t
worry people very much till relatively recently (Collins).
Though censorship was known in English law quite early on, it
wasn’t for obscenity but for heresy and sedition. “Undue exploitation of
sex? is what criminal law in Canada prohibits. This is how criminal law
defines obscenity. But it is rather vague. It doesn’t differentiate
between “ordinary obscenity” and “hard-core pornography” (Colley). The
first is the ordinary run of girlie magazines; and the second is
pictures, literature and so on that deal with rape, sadism, masochism,
bestiality, necrophilia and other perversions (Callwood). People tend to
object far more to “hard-core pornography.” Another thing unfortunately
overlooked by our criminal law is the distinction between isolated
instances of obscenity and the products of vast commercial enterprise
There has been an increasing trend towards children’s literature
that reflects a more realistic approach to books both fiction and non-
fiction, with subjects that include sex, homosexuality, divorce, child
abuse, drugs, violence, etc. (Collins). They are these realistic books
that have people outraged. In school libraries, the most frequent
complaints come from parents about the school’s selections. In public
libraries, parents were once again the single greatest source of
challenges to materials (Collins).
The world is filled with “obscene” things. And it would seem that
those parents are just trying to protect their children from the outside
world. But does it really help? These days, an average elementary
school student knows many things. They are influenced by a wide range of
sources, from television and other forms of media, their environment at
home and school, their personality, and their background. What they read
does not necessarily mean that they will follow. Literature is a valued
source of knowledge for these children, and should not be held back
So rather than applying full censorship, it should be made an age-
related censorship. Many of the complaints that were issued were of the
immaturity of the readers. Younger children should be prevented from
borrowing material intended for an older age group. Controversial
materials should still be held either in reserve, available upon request,
or under a section for parents and teachers who can decide for themselves
whether the material is suitable or not.
Our world is not perfect. We are a world filled with violence,
sex, racism, etc. Certain literature like “hard-core pornography” should
be censored to the general public. The types of “explicit sex” truly
have no meaning. They degrade the human race by increasing physical,
mental and sexual abuse against women, animals, and sometimes against men
(Callwood). These inhuman treatments should not be shown to prevent
other potential people from engaging in these acts of disgust.
“Ordinary obscenity” should be censored closely, but with an
objective view. They may also cause an increase in the violence against
women, so they must be reduced and kept out of reach of immature readers
(Jenkins). In one way, young children are like young saplings. To make
a tree grow correctly, you must start caring for it from the very
beginning. You must not block its nutrients, water nor sunlight, but
allow it to move around a bit; as with immature readers.
We have a governing social system that mainly frown upon the
violence against women. There should indeed be access to most types of
literature, but in varying degrees of freedom, determined not by
censorship, but by controlled access. Parents are only trying to protect
their children from the harsh realities of life.
Works Cited List
Callwood, June. Sanitized textbooks reflect a pious paradise that never
was. The Globe and Mail. March 18, 1987. pA2-A3.
Colley, Rupert. Censorship in the children’s library. The Junior
Bookshelf. June 1990. v. 53 n.3 p121-123.
Collins, Janet. Suffer the little children. Books in Canada. October
1991. v. 20 n.7 p25-27.
Jenkins, Dr. David. The Censorship Iceberg: The results of a survey of
challenges in school and public libraries. School Libraries in
Canada. Fall, 1985. v.6 n.1 p19-22.