Censorship is the “Policy of restricting the public expression of ideas, opinions, conceptions, and impulses, which have or are believed to have the capacity to undermine the governing authority or the social and moral order which that authority considers itself bound to protect” (Censorship para. 1). It is the surveillance, supervision, and the control of information or ideas that are promulgated in the society. Censorship has always been a hot topic of debate as many people are for, as well as against, limiting the ability of what can be said or shown on television, radio, theaters, and libraries. Censorship has been used throughout the history not only in communist countries but in democratic countries as well. From the beginning of civilization, censorship has been used by groups as well as individuals to prevent and control dangerous creations, information and ideas which are pernicious for the society. Throughout history it has taken different courses and occurred for various reasons. The main causes of censorship are religion, politics and sex related issues. Censorship are usually done in several areas such print media (newspaper), radio and television for religious purposes and offensive texts and objectionable speeches or behavior. Censorship should be done to benefit the society as a whole, as it is essential to protect the society from internal threat, to maintain peace and order. Censorship is needed and can be justified as censorship is pivotal to maintain social stability, racial harmony and to protect the mass from dangerous influences which can hamper the social growth.
Many people who are against censorship argues that censorship should not be done as the banning of ideas, thoughts and information in any stream is unconstitutional, for the first amendment guarantees freedom of speech and the press. The Amendment 1 dictates that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance” (Bill of Rights: Amendment I 1). The constitution did provide us with the freedom of speech and press, but it is not right to take this freedom and say anything we want anywhere, at anytime. Freedom should be used but in no way should it be misused. For example if a person hates another race and writes a book about abolishing that race, that person is clearly misusing his / her rights and at the same time disrupting the harmony of the society. History has shown us time and again that man is an animal if not regulated by rules and regulations. If censorship is not done, the society, as we know, will be chaotic. Freedom should not be taken for granted and should not be misused. Censorship keeps freedom in control to maintain the social order. It should be kept in mind that too much information can be and often is a dangerous thing. Having said that, it is true, there are some facts that are not suitable for the entire public. Censorship makes sure that dangerous ideas, ideologies, philosophies and outlook does not disrupt the citizens of the state.
In today’s world, media plays a crucial role in influencing both good and bad behavior and ideas. One cannot argue the fact that it depends on the individual choices and what he / she feels like watching. But, the reality is that when one watches a television show, it stagnates into the memory. This often results in young people ending up absorbing information far more than they needed for their age group and this has a negative impact on them. Youth’s mind should not be tampered with negative thought or ideas as they are easily influenced by what they see and hear around them. If there is no censorship to check what the youth are watching, this can have a dangerous impact. There is no harm in filtering what should be taught or what information should be given to the youth as long as it is for the betterment of the society. Researchers believe that the cognitive control over high-risk behaviors is still developing during the adolescence age which makes them participate in risky behaviors. As the brain’s emotion related areas and connectivity are still developing, adolescents are more vulnerable to psychological disorders which may attribute to the risky behaviors. Therefore, feeding too much negative information can only lead to chaos and social disorder and censorship should be regulated in the media.
Censorships are also solely motivated by morality and also the belief that exposure to violence in any streams causes students to behave in destructive ways. Censoring violent acts is necessary in the media as it can corrupt the young minds. It is crucial that any community protects itself from violence. Depicting violence in the media can have a negative influence on the youth as well as grownups and this can disrupt the peace of the society. Exposure to violence can affect the mental and social health of the people as it often triggers a person’s brutal instinct. There are many scientific studies to show that children who are exposed to violent acts are more vulnerable to act violently toward others. Children should not be exposed to too much violence in the media form as it can have a disastrous impact on their behavior. “Children are influenced by media — they learn by observing, imitating, and making behaviors their own. Aggressive attitudes and behaviors are learned by imitating observed models. Research has shown that the strongest single correlate with violent behavior is previous exposure to violence…Titillating violence in sexual context and comic violence is particularly dangerous, because they associate positive feelings with hurting others” (Wagner 1). Censorship of violence in media is necessary as not all media texts and acts are suitable for all audiences.
The increase in crime and violent act of the children in America is alarming and this confirms the fact that censorship should be done to control the attitude as well as the outlook of the youth. Censorship has a wide variety of advantages and it should be used to control the negative thoughts that can influence the youth. “Violence is ubiquitous in American mass media. An average American youth will witness 200,000 violent episodes on television alone before age 18.6 Violence is often considerable, even in programs which are not advertised as violent. Overall, weapons appear on prime time television an average of 9 times each hour.7 An estimated 54 percent of American children can watch this programming from the privacy of their own bedrooms” (Violence, Media (Position Paper) para. 4). In many cases, time and again, we have seen children being triggered to kill by the violent acts they saw on television. To take one example, in 1994, a police officer in Milwaukee was killed by two teenagers just to have fun. When questioned by the authority, they stated that they assassinated the police officer as they were influenced by the song of Tupac Shakur “2 Pacalypse Now” which glamorized the killing of policemen. It is clear that without controlling what material is delivered to the masses, we cannot expect people to have the basic sense of what is right or wrong. Glamorizing violence in media allows the children to constantly submerge themselves to see horrific things which can alter their behavior in a negative aspect.
One of the most controversial points of debate in censorship is the censorship of books in schools. This is a sensitive case as it involves the youth, parents and the academicians. Many people are against the idea of censoring books in school libraries. One of the main arguments regarding this topic is that it is unjustifiable for libraries to limit the knowledge of the students and dictate what is right and wrong in the works of literature. Many are also of the view that Censorship undermines the faith of the intelligence of the readers and at the same time oppressed free thinking. On the other hand, there are also many rationalizations that are used by people in favor of censorship in libraries. One of the common arguments in favor of censorship is that the information or a piece of literature which are deemed as dangerous or misleading by the standard of authorities must be suppressed as they can corrupt the youth. People who are in favor of censorship are also of the view that students should not be subjected to controversial issues in literature as they would be led astray. Censorships in school libraries are also solely motivated by morality and also the belief that exposure to violent books causes students to behave in destructive ways. Many work of literature was banned in schools in the 90’s: Of mice and men, Catcher in the Rye, The grapes of Wrath, Lord of the flies etc. Most frequently, books are censored by school libraries as they contain violence, sex, homosexuality and rebellious children. All these issues should not be exposed to young children as it is not age appropriate. When censorship board challenges a book and its content, it is generally out of concern for the children that the content can be harmful for young readers. The motivating factors for censoring books in school libraries are family values, political views, religions and minority rights. Therefore censoring books in the school libraries which can corrupt the young minds is perfectly justifiable.
The censorship of pornography has a positive effect on the society. Pornography can be defined as sexually explicit materials such as “books, magazines, films, etc. with no artistic value which describe or show sexual acts or naked people in a way that is intended to be sexually exciting but would be considered unpleasant or offensive by many people” (Howard 53). Today, one of the most discussed topics is child pornography. Child pornography is degrading and can be equated with modern slavery. Children are used as sexual labors when they should be out playing in the streets. Child pornography is intrinsically morally wrong and should be censored and its practice should also be brought to justice. It can encourage people to think that abusing is a child is right and it threatens traditional family and religious institutions. The life of the child affected by pornography is unimaginable and the fact that it can lead to other people predating other children is just horror. The lives and well being of the children should be protected at any cost. If these types of pornography are not censored, we will be heading to moral degradation in the society. Not censoring it would be as good as promoting it.
Censorship of pornography is legal, the pornography law states that “The current pornography law states: “For the purposes of this Act, any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene. Or; for the purposes of this Act, any matter or thing is obscene where a dominant characteristic of the matter or thing is the undue exploitation of any one or more of the following subjects, namely, sex, violence, crime, horror or cruelty, through degrading representations of a male or female person or in any other manner” (Steacy 8). The state is rightly justified in using its power to enforce a community’s moral conviction and to prevent its member from engaging in activities that disrupt the morality and decency of the community. Child Pornography undermines and threats the stability of the moral fabric of the society as it encourages sexual promiscuity and practices. Many countries have banned the use of child pornography and this is the right move. Just because we are given freedom does not necessarily mean that we have to exploit our freedom. In a perfect world, censoring pornography would not be needed as people would not have the taste to watch it. But, we are not living in a perfect world, we are living in a world where everyone feels the need of protection, so censoring any material that can disrupt the harmony of the society should be encouraged.
The internet has created a world of fantastic opportunity. It has both positive and negative impact on the society. While the internet has created the world for unparallel opportunities for people all over the world, but at the same time the internet has been exploited by sexual predators to showcase the sexual exploitation of children. Some of the information in the internet can be very useful while some information can be malicious such as child pornography. With the advancement of technology anyone can find child pornography on the internet with a click of a mouse using any search engine. Even though law enforcement officials have made tremendous efforts to control or curb child pornography, it is very difficult to crack it down. This issue needs to be addressed by every nation as no nation is immune from child exploitation. Nothing good or positive comes out from child pornography and most of the government of the world has a hard time in cracking it. The government should censor the internet content, so that we can protect the lives of innocent children and save the lives of many kids. The motivations behind the censorship of internet content are a well intentioned desire to practice children from unsuitable contents in the internet. It should be kept in mind that the reasons behind the censors’ reason are to block access to undesired information which can corrupt the young minds. The harsh reality is that without censorship many things spin out of control as man cannot be trust to always make the right decision or not be influenced by the things around him. Internet contents should be censored to ensure the smooth running of the society.
In conclusion, the policy censorships outweigh the negative effects. Restricting the youth action to help them reach their full potential can be justified at any cause. Students need guidance to shape up their life and handing them information based on the beliefs and standards of the society is justifiable. As mentioned before, Censorships are also solely motivated by morality and also the belief that exposure to violence in any streams causes men to behave in destructive ways. Censorship is needed in today’s world and it can be duly justified as censorship is pivotal to maintain social stability, racial harmony and to protect the mass from dangerous influences, which can hamper the social growth.
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