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Censorship Essay, Research Paper

CensorshipCensorship is the control of communication between people. This includes restrictions on what can be seen and heard. Mostly, censorship is practiced by Governments. But religious and political leaders and special interest groups also try to control the flow of information. Censorship violates individual rights, hides useful information, and limits freedom of speech. The four major types of censorship are moral, military, political, and religious. The most common type is moral censorship which restricts obscene material. Moral censorship tries to mainly protect children from corruption. The problem with moral censorship is the narrowing definition of obscenity. Military censorship occurs mainly in wartime, and is used to protect national security. Military censors have the authority to read the mail of service men and women. The censors can hold information from the press as well. Political censorship is used by governments that do not accept opposing ideas. “Democracies do not officially permit censorship, but many try to censor radical ideas”. Religious censorship happens in countries where the government is close to a religion or where religious feeling run high. Individual rights are written in the Bill of Rights section of the Constitution. The first amendment grants the freedom of the press, speech, and religion. The first amendment also grants that the media is immune fromgovernment control or censorship. A way to preserve individual rights is for government agencies to have little or no interaction with individual persons. For example, by police examining personal information. One act which violates individual rights is the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. The act makes it legal for police to legally read e-mail and access personal information held by Internet Service Providers. The act was created before the Internet was ever put to use on a wide scale. The act violates individual rights because it allows authorities access to censor material from the recipients of the e-mail. The main censorship that hides useful information is moral censorship. Moral censorship hides information that can help people learn about different ideas and alternative lifestyles. Moral censorship is used to protect children. Restricting obscene material only makes it harder and more desirable to obtain it. Obscene material was once restricted for most of the country. In this day and age, a majority of small town convenience stores carry literature which is deemed as obscene. Material that is considered obscene to others may be useful to some. An anatomy book which fully described the functions of the male and female sexual organs has the ability to teach readers about themselves, while it also has the ability to be banned at a school library. Another example are history books which may tell of fierce dictators and horrible wars. The books can be banned anywhere, but they also can teach people how to change and how to learn from mistakes. Hiding this type of useful information only hurts people by not allowing them to learn about different ways of the world. Freedom of speech is a basic freedom that enables people to voice their opinions.

Many court cases have established the precedents for freedom of speech. In Near v. Minnesota, freedom of speech was defined to mean that the press is to be free from prior restraint or censorship. Political censorship tries to limit the freedom of speech. This is because speeches or writings are thought to lead to violence. “Freedom of speech would be meaningless if prior censorship could be exercised”. The only exception to this is that a film may be given ratings before they are shown. There is no scientific evidence that violence in the media leads to violence in real life situations. Freedom of speech needs to be exercised more often without being put to trial. Censorship has many solutions. Parents need to have more power to restrict obscene material from their children. This will help bring morals back into households. Problems of violence are chiefly created at home because morals are not as strong as they used to be. Also, material should not be prohibited unless it is absolutely necessary. Material is only necessary to be censored in wartime for reasons of national security. Parental warnings should also be placed on every obscene piece of material in publication. This will help warn parents what their children are listening to and help salespeople with what they are selling. Censorship has been a topic long discussed with peoples opinions rarely changing. “Positive censorship develops culture”. There is hope that censorship will promote a positive attitude in that the morals will be revitalized. Current censorship needs to change in many ways for it to be more effective. Censorship has the ability to protect citizens when used correctly although current censorship represses communication.

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