Is Censorship American Essay Research Paper Is

Is Censorship American Essay, Research Paper

Is Censorship American?

Nothing is more un-American than violating the

Constitution. So how does it happen everyday in our country

without even a blurb in the newspaper? Freedom of speech

and freedom of the press were granted to United States

citizens when the Bill of Rights was amended to the

Constitution in 1791. By adding this to our constitution,

it makes it illegal to restrict Americans from voicing their

opinions. Yet these rights are hindered and completely

revoked constantly in our country. With terms like radio

edit and edited for television becoming part of our daily

vocabulary, Americans seem to neglect the injustice they

stand for. Even before Americans right to freedom of

speech was established with the Bill of Rights it was

already upheld in our colonial courts with important cases

like that of John Petter Zenger.

The case of John Petter Zenger vs. Governor, William

Cosby established freedom of speech in America before the

United States of America was even established. In 1743,

prior to the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791,

John Petter Zenger was charged with seditious libel for his

publication of the New-York Weekly Journal. Zenger had

created the Journal a year earlier to voice opposition to

the policies of the newly-appointed royal colonial Governor

William Cosby. After eight months in prison, Zenger went to

trial under the defense of Andrew Hamilton. Zenger was

released and all charges were dropped setting the precedent

for cases of freedom of speech in America. This was a

monumental decision in the history of the United States.

Although the Bill of Rights established many of the freedoms

that our country is based on, it was not the end of

Americans fight against censorship.

Americans are being put on trial every day for

exercising their right to freedom of speech, whether it is a

trial held in the court room or the more common media trial.

Many times these disputes are over song lyrics. Court cases

like that of Ozzy Osbourne s song Suicide Solution shows

that after 200 years American s still aren t quite sure of

the meaning of free speech. It seems the most prevalent

reason for quarrel over this issue resides in the censors

mindset. Instead of trying to relate to the artist in

question, they only see the few words or statements that

make them uncomfortable. Other cases are not taken to

court, but given what some call a media trial. Trial is

definitely not the best word to describe the swift judgment

that has occurred with such modern rock songs as Nirvana s

Rape Me and Everclear s Heroin Girl. Both of these

songs were written in opposition of the topics they discuss,

but the artists intent was deemed evil by the title alone.

Democracy seems to mean that it is much easier to take

someone to court than it is to try to relate to them, or

even understand what they are trying to say.

When we take away the right to express our views about

controversial or uncomfortable topics we are not making them

any better. Sweeping dirt under the rug is not cleaning, it

is merely lying to yourself to save actual work. In the

same way, quieting bands or songs that are potentially

offensive does not make the problems expressed disappear,

only their voice. By bringing up issues such as premarital

sex, drugs, homosexuality, or violence we are not promoting

them. We are merely creating a forum in which to discuss

and further understand them. Topics such as racism and more

recently gay rights have been helped tremendously by

television. The programs that accomplished this were not

monumental or blatant about confronting these topics. They

simply included ideas or type s of people that we may not

run into in our daily life.

By taking away the people s voice, you take away their

power. Democracy is based on power of the people, and

assumes that the participating citizens are informed and

conscience of their surroundings. Unfortunately, in the

American definition of democracy neither one of these is

true. Americans are conscience only of the filtered reality

that is fed to us day after day from birth to death. If you

take a step back you might start to wonder what you ve been




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