Censorship Essay Research Paper While most people

Censorship Essay, Research Paper

While most people won t admit to watching more than a couple of hours of

television per week, at any given moment millions of Americans are glued to

their television sets. The variety of programming offered ranges from action, to

comedy, to drama. Though not all programming is suitable for all viewers, as

adults living in a free country, we have the right to choose what we want to watch

and what we don t. Censorship, as defined by Britannica, is the changing or the

suppression or prohibition of speech or writing that is condemned as subversive

of the common good. Any time a program is censored before the public is able

to view it, we are being robbed of our right to choose what we wish to see;

another person has chosen for us.

Most of the controversy over television programming is focused around

audiences insatiable appetite for violence. As time goes by, the amount of

violence in television seems to escalate. This is why Attorney General Janet

Reno and others have started a crusade against television violence. They feel

that the level of violence in programming these days somehow desensitizes

people, especially impressionable young people, to real life violence. Though

events, such as the youths who were killed imitating a scene from The Program

in which characters laid down on the center strip of a highway as cars passed,

seem to bolster this idea, there is no conclusive evidence that violence in

television is in any way contributing to violent behavior in children. Although a

study conducted by the American Psychological Association, entitled Violence

and Youth, stated that higher levels of viewing violence on television are

correlated with increased acceptance of aggressive attitudes and increased

aggressive behavior, it also stated that poverty is the main determinant of

violence. The fact is, there would still be violence in the world even if children

were raised bereft of violent programming. Inevitably, if blame is to be assigned

to anyone for violent tendencies in children, it goes to parents. Parents should

be on hand to provide guidance to children in all aspects of their lives.

It has always been the duty of the broadcasters to determine the

appropriateness of television programming. Recently, due to strong government

pressure, the television industry has adopted a rating system similar to that used

by the motion picture industry. The new system is depicted as a small square

with various letters and numbers which declare the level of violence, sexuality,

and crude language in a program as well as the intended audience. This rating

system is supposedly voluntary, yet modern technology has brought censorship

to the twenty-first century with the introduction of the V-chip and recent

legislature that requires all television manufacture s to include one in all new

televisions. The V-chip is a device that uses the rating system to block

programs, deemed inappropriate, from being viewed. The problem this brings to

mind is best stated by Daniel E. Katz of the American Civil Liberties Union s

legislative council. He asks, Would the V-chip s automatic censors block out

such violent dramas as Schindler s List, Roots, or Gone with the Wind? How

about other such critically acclaimed films such as Saving Private Ryan or The

Godfather, which contain amounts of violence which are necessary to their

storylines? Some programs use violence for positive or even historical

purposes, such as a Civil War documentary. Should anybody be blocked from

seeing these programs because of the violence?

There are currently other devices on the market that allow parents to

monitor what their children can watch on television. One such device is a cable

box with a lock that is operated with a key and has the ability to keep certain

channels from being viewed. There is also a device called The Telecommander

that will only allow children to watch preselected programs, these make the

V-chip unnecessary. Other arguments against the V-chip are that it is based on

a rating system that is far too vague or overly broad. The National Coalition on

Television Violence is an organization that opposes censorship yet is dedicated

to cleaning up television programming. They point out that sex, language, and

mature content are all mingled together and rated for overly broad age


The right to decide what we want to see and what we don t was granted to

us by the Constitution of the United States Of America. I might not want to watch

a show in which an ax-murderer hacks up ten victims, but I must be able to make

that decision on my own. All legislation must be made with circumspection.

Censorship of any kind is wrong; it is prevalent not in countries of democracy,

but in dictatorships. Censorship is the tool of a fascist. The best way to control

what you or your family watches is not with the V-chip, or by using the rating

system, it s by using your remote control — change the channel.

Works Cited

American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU Expresses Concerns on TV Rating Scheme; Says

Voluntary System is Government-Backed Censorship. Freedom Network. 29

Feb. 1996. 18 Apr. 2000 .

American Civil Liberties Union. Culture Wars Continue as Senate Panel Considers

Measure to Censor Television. Freedom Network. 18 May 1999. 18 Apr. 2000


American Civil Liberties Union. Violence Chip. Freedom Network. 29 Feb. 1996. 23

Apr. 2000 .

Dickinson, Amy. The V Chip Arrives. Time South Pacific 12 July 1999. 23 Apr. 2000


Encyclopedia Britannica. Censorship. Encyclopedia Britannica. 23 Apr. 2000


Gitlin, Todd. Imagebusters: The Hollow Crusade Against TV Violence. The American

Prospect no. 16, Winter 1994. 23 Apr. 2000


National Coalition on Television Violence. What Good Is It?. 11 Jan. 2000. 23 Apr.

2000 .


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