Censorship

Censorship The subject of censorship is a very controversial one, especially the banning of books. Many people believe they must protect themselves and others from the evils of many classic books and works of art because they can be deemed indecent in one way or another. Many believe that this is absurd and censorship in its current form is a violation of our First Amendment right to free speech. Personally, I align myself with the latter, however I do feel there are occasions where censorship is justifiable. The censorship of books is a division of censorship that, apart from Internet censorship, receives the most publicity.

Banning books is the most popular form of such censorship. Many banned books are literary classics, such as The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, which was listed as the number 6 most challenged or banned book in a list compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union in 1997. This book has been banned from school libraries all over the country because of the main character’s teenage angst, which many feel is too graphic for teenagers, and its profanity. Profanity, whether it be frequent or a rare occurrence, is a characteristic of many literary classics, as is the use of racial epithets. In the book Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (ranking number 2 on the list), an epithet is use many times over to describe the people of color in the book. Now since the book was published in 1885 and such language was common at the time, I do not believe that banning such a book is necessary.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

An excuse commonly used by advocates of banning books that use graphic language or racial epithets is that they do not want children exposed to it. It is my belief that since by the time the child is required to read such literature in school, they are at an age where they can distinguish between things that should and should not be said and it is the job of the parents to educate the child that just because they say it in a book does not mean he or she should. Another subject common to banned and censored books is sexuality. An excellent example of a book in question containing sexual content is The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, which ranked number 5 on the ACLU’s list. Now considering the fact that this frequently banned book is written for young adults of middle and high school age, I’m sure the author included this content, and the often graphic language associated with such content, because it made the book more realistic and possibly because it made the novel more appealing to the age bracket. Fiction is not the only genre faced with banning and censorship. Educational books such as the sex education text It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris and The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsmanare under attack because they discuss sex-related topics.

All I have to say about this is sexuality is a fact of life, not some forbidden subject. Adolescents need to know this information so they don’t go off an ruin their life by having a baby while they are in their teens or catching a disease because they didn’t have the information to protect them. Sometimes books are banned or censored for unusual and often ridiculous reasons. An example of such is the banning of Little Red Riding Hood in two California school districts in 1989. In the story, Little Red Riding Hood is bringing a cake and a bottle of wine to her grandmother’s house. The districts claimed they were concerned because of the use of alcohol in the story.

Even the popular children’s’ book series Goosebumps, by R.L. Stine, has been challenged across the country by parents and school officials. They say that the book is too scary for kids. I am curious as to why they say this, because I remember reading the books in elementary school, and to my peers and I, they were comedic rather than scary. By the time a child can read these books, I feel, they are old enough to know that it is just a story and the Goosebumps books are all about getting kids into the fun of reading.

As I have said before, there are certainly occasions where censorship is justified. For example, the Kenneth Starr report on President Clinton’s affairs with Monica Lewinsky and the attempts to cover it up is certainly not for kids. Due to its graphic sexual content, I would not be surprised if it was censored extensively or even removed from the Internet sites it is currently on. I do believe when censorship is used, it must be used with common sense. Instead of banning classic literary works and educational from school libraries and classrooms, classes could possibly discuss why the authors use such language and content in their books.

Why ban a good book because it has a few profanities? If censorship must be used to control inappropriate content, it should be used to prevent children from gaining access to materials such as pornography on the Internet rather than the sex-ed book in the school library. English Essays.

Censorship

Censorship From “Obscene” Material
Today, in the 1990’s, citizens in our society are being bombarded with obscene material from every direction. From the hate lyrics of Gun’s ‘N Roses to the satanic lyrics of Montley Crue and Marilyn Manson to the sexually explicit graphical content of today’s movies, the issue is how much society is going to permit and where we, as a society, should we draw the line. The freedom of speech has always been considered a right, but that doesn’t mean that you can shout, “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. The real question is whether such material is harmful or dangerous to our society.

Many people are asking whether or not we should censor offensive material. They believe that some material is too obscene for society to hear or see. The advocates of censorship get riled up because the movie rating council doesn’t give a move an R-rating for having the occasional f-word. One rap group, 2 Live Crew, has already had one of their albums banned because in one song they used explicit references to male genitals and 87 references to oral sex. They used the word “bitch” more than 100 times and the f-word more than 200 times.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

Although most people agree that we are being overwhelmed with offensive material, there is no consensus on how to deal with the problem. There are three possible solutions. The first is the possibility of government censorship, which would include laws and penalties for breaking these laws. The second solution is self-imposed censorship by individuals and corporations. The third solution is total free speech with no censorship.

The first possible solution is government censorship. In the past government legal actions have been taken to control offensive messages. For example, in 1988, the Ku Klux Klan wanted to appear on a Kansas City, Missouri public access cable channel. The city council decided that it would be better to shut the public access cable channel down instead of letting the KKK air their show. Later, under the pressure of being sued, the city council reversed their decision.

Critics of this sort of action agree that these offensive messages do exist, but legal action is not the way to deal with them. They believe that no individual acts the way the messages portray just because the messages exist. Another belief is that legal actions will intimidate creative people because it makes them afraid of having to pay a fine to the government for violating obscenity laws.

The second possible solution is private-sector censorship. While some people feel that government officials are the best way to restrict offensive messages, others feel that self- censorship is a more effective method. A recent series of incidents suggests that executives in many private firms have begun doing just that. Book publishers, TV stations, and others have drawn the line when faced with words or images that are tasteless or offensive. For example, in 1990, Andy Rooney, a CBS news correspondent, was suspended for his racist remark, “Blacks have watered down their genes because the less intelligent ones… have the most children.”
Another episode of self-imposed censorship is when George Michael released his song “I Want Your Sex.” In 1987, AIDS and other sexual diseases were rampantly spreading and his song condoned casual sex. The MTV executives also sent the video for this song back because of the explicit, sexual images.

A third incident happened when MTV drew the line again, this time with Madonna’s video for “Justify My Love.” They said that the video illustrates Madonna’s erotic fantasies. It was said to be “too hot to handle.”
The advocates of the second solution agree that America is suffering from a deluge of offensive messages, but they feel that the best way of dealing with the problem is not government censorship, but private-sector censorship.

The critics of this point of view think that private-sector censorship will not be enough. They believe that the entertainment industry will not be able to control itself. Private-sector restrictions do not have the authority of the law, therefore they cannot successfully draw the line between what can and cannot be said in public.

The third and final possible solution is no censorship at all. While many Americans are troubled by what they feel is offensive speech, and feel that it should be restricted by law, advocates of the third solution disagree. They feel that there is more harm in restricting free speech than by the offensive speech itself. In the bill of rights, the first amendment says, “Congress shall make no long abridging the freedom of speech.” The first amendment was intended to protect the minorities from the tyranny of the majorities. The advocates of this view feel that the minority has a right to express themselves regardless of the opinion of the majority.

Free speech matters because it encourages creativity. Without the freedom of speech, America would probably be dull and drab like a communist country such as the former USSR. For example, the comedy of Andrew Dice Clay, considered offensive by some, shouldn’t be censored from those who find him humorous
Freedom of speech is an important part of any democratic country. While some people may find Rush Limbaugh’s portrayal of President Clinton offensive, his show should not be censored. This is the price that we pay to live freely in a democratic society.

Censorship does not have to be the solution. You always have the right to change the channel or put down a book. You have control over what you hear, see, or read. You are not forced to see or hear the offensive speech.

Opponents of the “first amendment view” believe that “just saying no” is not enough. For example, children most likely will not say no. This is why these people believe that the government should at least have the right to censor what children see.

Some people believe that censorship is the answer, others do not. I believe that this issue will be left up to the courts to decide. I fear that the media may become a swamp of regulations with no more entertainment value whatsoever, and I hope that this never happens. I think that the first amendment is a great right and that we should never abridge it.