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Censorship CENSORSHIP Censorship and the ideology supporting it reiterates concepts from ancient times. In early Greek civilization, Socrates was accused of worshipping strange gods and corrupting the minds of the youth. He preferred to sacrifice his life rather than accept the censorship of his teachings. Socrates advocated free discussion, and is the first person in recorded history to formulate a philosophy of intellectual freedom. Ancient Roman society endorsed that only members of the Senate, or persons of vast authority, enjoyed the privilege of free speech. However, the extensive Roman Empire could not have remained intact for four centuries if it had not maintained a tolerant attitude toward the diverse religions and cults of the races it ruled.

In our own country, the American Revolution branded the beginning of an era with an emphasis on toleration and liberty the Age of Enlightenment. It affected all aspects of society, from religious belief and political life, to science and literature. The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution sanctioned that restraint on publication is unconstitutional. Such repression is only justified in extreme cases, such as times of war.

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In modern times, censorship refers to the examination of books, plays, periodicals, films, television and radio programs, news reports and the internet for the purpose of suppressing material thought to be objectionable or offensive. Censorship can be defined as the supervision and control of the information and ideas that are circulated among the people within a society. It concerns objectionable materials, such as those which may be considered to be immoral, obscene, treasonable or injurious to national security. The rationale of censorship is that it is necessary for the protection of basic social institutions: the family, the church and the state. It is a guardian of morals, and intrudes in many aspects of society: it supervises our communications, suppresses our freedom of speech, alters and edits our media and reduces the knowledge base that we can gain access to.

It is claimed that permissiveness in the arts and mass media debases the public taste and corrupts all sense of decency. One aspect of censorship is that it omits some of our freedoms of speech when addressing a large group of people. For example, no person has the right to shout Fire! in a crowded theatre when no fire is present, or urge an angry mob to riot. This, as stipulated by Congress, would be a clear and present danger to the peace and security of the community. In some local communities, school boards have exerted pressure on publishers to omit certain areas of text relating to various sensitive issues, such as evolution, the biblical account of creation, or discussions of racial or religious groups.

When publishers, authors or broadcasters trespass the political or moral boundaries set by law, they may be subject to fines, imprisonment and confiscation of their publication. The U.S. film industry practices a form of self-censorship. The Motion Picture Association of America imposed on its constituents a system of film classification. The Federal Communications Commission implemented vague rules for television and radio about program content.

They restrict the use of explicit language and direct references to sex. Religious, ethnic and racial groups have attempted to prevent plays, movies, and television programs because of elements they find offensive. In terms of my own opinions concerning censorship, I do not believe that it should be completely eliminated from our society. Instead of the materials we have access to being filtered and limited, I believe that the information should be available to those who choose to, and are mature enough to view it. One aspect I feel strongly about is that any individual should be able to openly criticize, through speech or publication, any government or public official.

If we do not have the right to question or criticize our authority figures, than there is nothing to set our democratic society apart from that of a dictatorship. I do not believe that censorship should interfere with our correspondence, privacy, family or with our freedom of thought, religion or opinion. In terms of how censorship should be dealt with in our classroom, I think that omitting all profanity from music selection would eliminate a huge portion of songs that we might find very expressive and valid. I think that as long as the profanity is minimal, and adds to the expression of the music rather than just be excessive and repetitive, the majority would be open-minded and mature enough to accept it. However, there appears to be a trend in some forms of modern music that is very degrading to race and gender.

I do not appreciate those lyrics, and believe that people should not be subject to the embarrassment or shame that they may cause. As we look back at history, censorship has been gradually introduced and eliminated. Idolized role models have taken their own stand against censorship, such as the rap group 2 Live Crew, defending censorship against their own music. The Internet has added a whole new dimension to the issue, and introduced a whole new form of media that is virtually impossible to control. With the advances in technology, and the numerous new methods of transmitting media, it is a possibility that censorship will be unable to exist in future years.


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