Censorship has been defined as ‘the removal of material that is deemed or judged offensive to any sector of the population.’ Many have wondered, “Just how beneficial is censorship to man, when is it enough and does it help?” It is my view however; that there is no clear answer to that question, for censorship has its fair balance of advantages and disadvantages.
One advantage that most people can agree on is that censorship protects the young, the innocent and the vulnerable. It is built on the premise that we don’t always know what is good for us, we don’t always discern and as a result we don’t always know what should be removed. For example, many movies on television are censored. However, a research study performed by the Concordia University of the United States, found that there are over one thousand images of violence on primetime television per week! People don’t realize the effects of this, it’s desensitizing, there is increased violence and the inability to differentiate reality from fantasy. It pollutes their mind and they eventually emulate what they see. One example that can prove this, is an incident that occurred in the year 1996 in England.
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Two-year-old Jamie Bulger was kidnapped by two ten year olds outside a shopping mall. They dragged him two miles on a train railway and beat and mutilated his head continuously. Upon investigation, they said that they had viewed “Child’s Play II” over one hundred times and were emulating parts of the movie. This shows the influence of television and the need to protect these minds.
However, while this is a valid reason for censorship, I do believe that it goes against freedom of choice. People should be able to choose what they want to view and make their own judgments. When it comes to the young and the innocent, parents should be the primary censors. Which is why I believe that the lack of censorship in “Child’s Play II” should not be considered fully responsible for the unfortunate and gruesome incident that occurred. For me it raises the question, “where were their parents?” For it simply could have been avoided if their parents had not allowed them to view what was obviously not suitable for their age. We choose what we want to see and until we are of age to know what should be viewed and what should not, our parents should accept this role.
Another argument for censorship is that it is necessary to ensure social harmony. Society is made of people from different races, religion and gender and censorship ensures the protection of all rights. Many people, especially artists, can be very unscrupulous. They “bastardize” their art by targeting other groups, sensationalizing certain things. For example, a few years ago, there was a religious group called Thusians, they were printing out tracks against Hindus and were eventually banned. There was also an incident where a local artiste by the name of Sugar Aloes sang about the Prime Minister’s wife. Another example was that of writer Salman Rushdie. He was exiled from England due to a book he put out called ‘Satanic Verses.’ It was a condemnation of Islam and a death threat was put on his head by religious leader Iotolla Comini. This shows that censorship is necessary to protect groups and political matters as some artists cheapen their art form, with their aim being money, fame or some other ulterior motive.
While censorship is needed to ensure social harmony, it also negates freedom of speech. People should be allowed to express themselves and say what they feel or believe without being restricted. However, self-expression doesn’t mean that you can say absolutely anything. For with self-expression comes responsibility and therefore people should ensure they don’t offend anyone.
We have looked at many arguments for and against censorship and I believe people have to decide for themselves, whether censorship is beneficial or not. After viewing the arguments, I personally believe that censorship is a myth. It is widely used as a means of protecting the mind however; it is my view that censorship rarely works efficiently due to the high availability from other sources of what is being censored. For example, a song may be censored or banned due to excess profanity; I can easily get the ‘hard core’ version through several different means. So the effectiveness of censorship is in the eyes of the observer.
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