Prior Restraint Can Be Accepted Essay Research

Prior Restraint Can Be Accepted Essay, Research Paper

Some people believe that there are no circumstances under which prior restraint of the press, either print or broadcast, should be accepted or tolerated. I disagree with that statement and do believe there are certain times when prior restraint should be accepted or tolerated. This is not an issue that is or should be taken lightly because I am in strong agreement with protecting the First Amendment, however in specific and special cases I can understand the government feeling the need to intervene.

First of all, I agree with Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes during the case of Near v. Minnesota 283 U.S.697 (1931)., when he says that it is appropriate that the government can stop publication of material when it incites violence. I mean, it is possible for publishers to produce articles with highly debated arguments without being offensive or without using fighting words. In this case of starting violent acts, how is it possible to be in agreement with the argument that punishment of the press after publication is good enough censorship? I cannot see that it is good enough censorship when the violence has already begun. I believe in not letting the problem begin as opposed to trying to correct it once it takes place. But this is where people may say –well, where do we draw the line between what may or may not incite violence? To this I answer, we have seen what has incited violence in the past, and if we begin with that we have a good starting point. Then go from there, and take into consideration the possibility that some of the concerns from the past may not still be highly debatable currently.

I also believe prior restraint is acceptable when the national security is at stake, for example, during time of war or when it could cause harm to the nation. I believe there are things that the government does and knows about that should not be revealed to the general public. Therefore I believe it is fair for the president to have the right to classify documents as top secret. In the case of U.S. v. Progressive, 467 F. Supp. 990 (1979)., Progressive was attempting to publish an article about the hydrogen bomb. The government said the article presented “immediate, direct and irreparable harm to the interests of the United States” (Pember 2001). In this case I agree with the courts decision to restrain the article from being published because the article could have possibly helped another country make a hydrogen bomb quicker and easier. I definitely do not believe that is something to toy around with or take lightly. That is a serious issue that does not need to be brought to the attention to the wrong person. And by restraining a publisher to produce such an article is not restraining the whole concept of the article. In this case it would still have been possible for the Progressive to discuss the issue without adding the technical portion of building the hydrogen bomb, just as the U.S. District Judge Robert Warren said. And in general, it is possible to publish highly debatable issues without disclosing technical portions or top-secret documents, and still have substance.

In conclusion, I am in agreement with prior restraint of print or broadcast. I believe that there are certain circumstances such as inciting violence or when harm to the nation is at stake, where it is necessary to limit what the press says. Why let something bad or harmful take place if you can do something about it before it starts? Also, just because the government limits the press in a couple of small ways, that does not mean what is published can?t be interesting, factual, substantial and worth reading.

SourcesPember, D.R. (2001). Mass media law. McGraw-Hill.


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