The Importance Of Censorship Nowadays

The issue of censorship affects everyone. It covers all businesses, governments, relationships and even ourselves. Probably the most common form of censorship is self-censorship, which is the exercising of control over what one says and does, especially to avoid criticism. Whether noticeable or not, we all subconsciously censor ourselves, proving that this issue is relevant to everyone, not just huge organisations or the government. With the rapid rise of social media and the ever-increasing number of internet users, internet censorship has also come to society’s attention.

By definition, censorship is the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security. It is also important for us to understand what exactly oppression is. For something to be deemed as oppressive it is to be inflicting harsh and authoritarian treatment.

The question as to whether censorship is oppressive or not is very broad and cannot be answered with a simple sentence. In my opinion, censorship is not always oppressive and sometimes very necessary. This essay will discuss why I take this stand.

Firstly, censorship is necessary to protect the impressionable. Censorship is not oppressive when it is done to protect those who are unable to comprehend what they are viewing. This applies mostly to children. The age at which a child or teenager can be criminalised ranges from age 7 to 15 and is mainly based on whether or not they have reached puberty. This is due to the fact that the youth has been deemed as not mature enough to make decisions that are morally correct before they reach puberty. This carries on to the topic of censorship as well. It is difficult to determine when exactly a youth is able to separate right from wrong and thus, there are certain restrictions that have been implemented to prevent them from viewing things that have been deemed inappropriate or obscene. I do agree that, in the end, it is ultimately the parents’ or guardians’ decision regarding what the youth does or does not view. However, a child should not be able to stumble across things like pornography or violence while browsing by themselves, thus this is why child restrictions on media platforms are important and they should only be exposed to that sort of material when their parents allow them to. For example, the cover of ‘Goodnight Moon’, a children’s book by Magaret Wise Brown, featured a photograph of the illustrator with a cigarette in between his fingers. The publisher of the book, HarperCollins decided to digitally edit out the cigarette in 2005. The editor in chief, Kate Jackson said that 'It is potentially a harmful message to very young kids' and that 'it doesn't need to be there'. This is necessary as it helps to promote healthy habits among the children who might pick up the book. That is not to say that a child should never know what a cigarette is, they should not be able to see it on a children’s book.

Secondly, censorship is important to protect the privacy of a person, organisation or even country. This type of censorship would be mostly classified under withholding information from certain groups of people. We see this mostly with newspapers and social media. In order for us to protect the privacy of a person, censorship is necessary. The first reason would be that in cases whereby the person is a victim of or witness to a crime, their name or face is often censored out in order to protect their identity. This would not be oppressive as it is done in order to prevent the person from potential public humiliation or backlash. With this digital age, finding out a person’s personal information is a very simple task. The cutting out of this sort of information simply prevents it from getting into the hands of those who have ill intentions. The second reason would be that a person would often choose to censor personal information such as addresses when interacting with others that they might not be familiar with in order to protect their own privacy. This would not be counted as oppressive as it is done in the interest of defending themselves. These reasons also apply to organisations or countries, just on a larger scale.

Lastly, I would agree that censorship is oppressive in relation to freedom of expression. What censorship does is that it infringes on this basic human right. In my opinion, it is completely fine to censor hate speech, simply because it is not a form of expression and instead, a form of disrespect and hostility towards another party. Thus, it should be censored. However, when someone’s content or creation has been censored simply because another party disagrees with the points that it brings up, that is oppressive. Another person’s views should not be completely disregarded just because it is controversial. A recent example of this would be the case of Prager University, an American non-profit organization that creates videos on various topics from a conservative perspective. It has been revealed that Youtube has prevented those on restricted mode from viewing over 200 of their videos on the platform. They claim that the reason as to why these videos have been restricted is due to how controversial they and the topics that they speak about are. This is known as big-tech censorship. Although Google confirms that they are a public forum that allows for their users to have the freedom of expression, they seem to have however, censored those who oppose their views. The argument that these videos are controversial is invalid as everything can be deemed as controversial, just the degree at which it is differs. Therefore, I believe that this sort of censorship is indeed oppressive as no one should not be able to limit another’s freedom of speech.

In conclusion, censorship is not always oppressive but may be in some circumstances. The points mentioned above help support this stand.

31 August 2020
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