Censorship Essay, Research Paper
In the First Amendment to the Constitution, amongst other things it guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association (assembly). However, everywhere you turn today there is some group trying to take some god given right away from us. Freedom of speech is a right that we, as Americans, fought long and hard for two hundred years ago. It was the idea of our founding fathers that it is every man or woman?s right to say what he or she wishes without being persecuted for it. We won the war against England and in return won our freedom of speech. But how much did we really win? Is censorship a growing reality? And how has two hundred years changed the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States? I am in favor of responsible freedom of speech, however, at the rate the United States is going there just might be a time when freedom of speech is just a history lesson.
The Klu Klux Klan is planning a meeting in your neighborhood. What would you do? Attend the meeting? Rally against them? Ignore them? Try to stop them? Well if you are a firm believer in freedom of speech you could do three out of the four. The KKK has every right to be in your neighborhood and every to assemble even if it is seen un-American to the masses. Although the majority of Americans do not believe in the preaching of the Klan, no one has the right disallow expression of their beliefs. Klan members live under the same rules and regulations that we all live under. They are no different than a church choir or a Boy Scout troop. The only difference is the message they relay.
Freedom of speech also involves art expression. The world of music has always had to stand its ground against the United States Government. The 1990?s were full of censorship battles between record labels and the U.S. Government. In 1992, rap artist Ice-T and his record label went to court to fight for the right to sell Ice-T?s CD entitled Cop Killer. The title song was thought to advocate the killing of cops. Of course the proponents of the album never interpreted the song as Ice-T intended. The song was about dishonest cops. But never the less the legal system intervened and ruled in favor of the discontinuance of distribution of Cop Killer. The year 1989 saw the rap group 2 Live Crew in court defending their performances. The United States saw the group?s sexually explicit lyrics and inappropriate gestures on stage illegal and temporarily banned them from performing.
Although video art, such as television and film, has come a long way since its beginning, the U.S. Government has done its part to control what it can. Even cable television, which consumers pay for, have strict restrictions on what and what can?t be shown on their networks. The U.S. Government, although is instituted through the networks and film studios, pressured the movie and television ratings system. Filmmakers, weary of unfavorable ratings, have altered many projects just to please the rating board. This is a degree of censorship. And to surrender art for ?government? restrictions is shameful.
I, even though I am a true believer of the First Amendment, feel that it is every Americans duty to take this right responsibly. Everyone is effected by censorship in one way or another. The constant bickering over what is acceptable has no winners. As long as we respect each other, there is no need for the government to tell us what is right and what is wrong. Allow us as people make the decision of how to utilize our freedom of speech.