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Censorship, what is it, is it a problem, is it constitutional? These are some of the questions I am going to answer in this paper. I am going to prove to you that censorship is a bad thing, and interpreting the words of the president of this great country, he agrees also. Howard Zinn, in my mind one of the greatest historians ever, makes a great point in his novel A People s History of the United States, he states that history is retold in the eyes of the victor. Meaning that history is always told by the people that win. Zinn makes a point of showing history the way it should be told, non-partial to any side. Censorship has become a big deal these days. In the early years of this century, the topic of debate was banks and the stock market. In the middle years, it was freedom of expression, and free will. In the begging of this new millenium what is to say the new debate won t be about privacy (relating to the internet), and personal preference (relating to choice and freedom of expression specifically the arts).

What is Censorship? Censorship is the ability of someone else to determine what he or she feels is acceptable for an American citizen to view. Except it is more than just that, the American Library Association determines that Censorship by definition means The Change in the access status of material, made by a governing authority or its representatives. Such changes include: exclusion, restriction, removal or age/grade level changes. {1} What I interpret this to mean is that Censorship is the ability of a person or group of people to change the amount of access a person has to material. Case and point, The Communications Decency Act or the CDA, was a bill passed through congress on banning material on the Internet, it was a flop. The main reason why this bill failed was because no hearings were held, and congress clearly misunderstood the nature of the Internet and employed faulty analogies to other forms of media. {2} The University of Florida College of Law publishes an online journal in which they comment this Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It this exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation and their ideas from suppression at the hand of an intolerant society. {Also, Source 2} The Journal makes another essential point, which I will paraphrase, in the case FCC v. Pacifica Foundation a father complained that he was listening to the radio with his son and heard the seven dirty words with warning violating the broadcast media regulations. These words are considered indecent and when something is considered indecent, it is classified as perverse in nature. When viewed or heard against ones will, it is considered assault. My thoughts on this matter happen to be that if we heard those seven dirty words without censoring ourselves we would not be assaulted by them. If the First Amendment means anything, it is that the government should not be in the business of regulating speech under threat of incarceration that some might find indecent or offensive. Such determinations are properly made by the individual and specifically in the context of the issue the CDA seeks to address, the parent.

If around something found offensive long enough, it no longer becomes grotesque. For example World War 2 the Third Reich and the extermination of the Jews. In the concentration camps the Germans would call for the corps carriers, they would dispose of the bodies from the gas chambers; this is a true quote that stuck in my mind. At first what we were doing was Grotesque but a year of doing it everyday, didn t make it so bad, in fact I came to like my job because it kept me from manual labor. How does that relate to Censorship, the federal government wants to censor violence and all forms of it, what happens when there is another war and we see a person have their arm blown off, field shock. I think so, if we are desensitized to violence then that does not seem so bad and I could keep on with my job, without hesitation. You don t ask the government to censor what you find offensive; you create and alternative, it should be the new American way.

Privacy and Censorship go hand in hand. If a person does not have privacy and then the government is regulating what a person can say then they are also censoring what they can hear. I find this very amusing, I was watching Television a while ago and I saw this interesting movie called Enemy of the State. Having already missed half the movie I debated even watching the rest, I ended up watching it and Gene Hackman s character formerly worked for the NSA. He started talking about underground computers that cycled through phone conversations that people had listening for keywords, if a keyword hit the call would be recorded and reviewed for terrorist meaning. The amusing part is that I was shocked thinking oh my God what would happen if this were a true story. Well guess what, it is true, while reading through some information of this paper I found a web-site called top 25 censored news story s in 1997 it hit as number 4. It is still up and running under code name ECHELON. There are networks of computers all over the world and every telephone call placed on the globe is monitored, the sheer computers needed for a project like that are inconceivable. Computers that could perform tasks like this have existed since the 1970 s, but it was not until the 80 s that ECHELON was instituted. Privacy is gone and the whole thing is covered up and censored. The story came public when Nick Hager published a book called Secret Power outlining the whole project. The day it was released there was an all day meeting in the prime ministers office trying to find a way to keep the book from being distributed, they concluded the political costs would be to high and gave up. {3}

Working on keeping kids out of pornography on the Internet is a lost cause. All a teenager needs to access porn is a vivid imagination and half a brain. Half a brain to find a site that uses a credit card for age verification and a vivid imagination to come up with a valid card number. Leaving parents with no other choice but to buy software that will filter out the bad parts of the web. However, the web is just too large. Bill Duvall works for a company called SurfWatch, he pays Stanford University Graduate Students to track down porno sites so he can add the URL to the do not allow list. {4} There is a problem with this though, porn sites pop up all over the web everyday, and it is impossible to keep pace with the times. BESS is a form of net censorship that most schools use yet they it has a choice on what kind of censorship you can be provided with. Whether or not you would like it to search the page for content that maybe offensive or to build off from a list. If it searches the page it limits too much if it builds off from a list it does not allow enough. There is no halfway point unless the parent trusts the child. The Internet is an incredibly powerful medium for freedom of speech and freedom of expression that should be protected. It is the biggest change in human communications since the printing press, and is being used to educate our children, promote electronic commerce, provide valuable health care information, and allow citizens to keep in touch with their government. But there is material on the Internet that is clearly inappropriate for children. As a parent, I understand the concerns that parents have about their children accessing inappropriate material. {5} So again, I believe what this comes down to is whether the human mind can handle the image of a nude person, maybe some people can not but whose fault is that.

The last point to be made in this argumentative paper is how feeble minded some people are. My point being that it was said the reason those kids shot each other in Columbine Colorado is because they listened to some popular music and saw a few movies. I do not know who is stupider, the people that came up with the idea or the people that now follow it. The point being that in the fifty s rock and roll was becoming popular and parents thought kids were rebelling, that generation went through a major movement, maybe that s what my generation is building up to. Movie violence I will agree has gotten worse but as time goes on parents also have to watch and pay attention to their sons and daughters. They talk about violence on Television not having any consequences and not feeling pain because of if. Give me a break, you know if you get cut with a knife it will hurt and if you see someone on television get cut with a knife it would hurt them to, if it doesn t you know it is fake. We also must allow artists to have their freedom of expression, In your day, it seemed that if we were to have great art, we could not also have censors. The absolute freedom of the artist to pursue his vision wherever it might lead was to e celebrated as the primary attribute of the civilized, secular society. {6} The point that now has to be faced is that if you win the censorship battle either by outright victory, as in the theater, or by stealth, as in the movies you don t just get Mapplethorpe for the connoisseur: You get vicious drivel for the masses. More painfully, you also get unarguably fine films, such as Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, and American director Quentin Tarantino s Reservoir Dogs, that you would rather were not watched by the criminal classes or the mentally unstable or by inadequately supervised children with little else in their lives. The whole argument here is the director and the writers have to be allowed their own freedom to create the art that they wish. This argument goes on but is summed up by this The only honest answer, sadly, is censorship the application of deliberate pressure against this choking culture of violence. It may not work the global media explosion will probably will ensure that people can get whatever they want but lying supine before the bloody technological invasion is not a serious alternative. It is not freedom, either. Essentially, what he is saying is that censorship can be good and bad but there is no telling which way everyone feels.

Virginia Postrel wrote an article called Creative Matrix in which she discusses movies versus Shakespeare and why they should and should not compete on the same level. It is tiresome and cliched to keep invoking Shakespeare, whom no one would dare ban today. But there is a reason the Bard keeps coming up, and it is not the everyone in Hamlet ends up dead. That reason is seared in the consciousness of every English-language player, right down to the members of the Screen Actors Guild: You can ban Shakespeare. It happened. In 1642, the greatest period of English Theater was ended by an act of Parliament. The milieu that had produced Shakespeare, and that continued to perform his plays, was destroyed. Those theaters were full of sex, violence, and special effects and of poetry, ideas, and creative promise. English drama never fully recovered from the loss. Had the closure come a mere 50 years earlier, we would have lost Romeo and Juliet and everything that followed. {7} So the fact that the world almost lost one of the most significant moments in it s history because of censorship should say something as to why we do not need it. Kids contempt for the values of work and sobriety and conformity to social norms, Movie critic James Bowman on The Matrix. This critique condemns not just the movie but the inventiveness that made it possible. It is a prescription for the death of creativity and an attack on the American spirit. By this standard, Hamlet is safe. But what about Huck Finn? {7}

In our day, when the law is forbidden to make moral judgments this because the Supreme Court effectively put the censors out of business some 25 or 30 years ago and when, especially in the public schools, students are told that the only self-evident truth is that there is no such thing as truth, and, therefore, that all moral judgments are relative. our parents will be on their own. In this situation, a dialogue between father and his teenage son would be likely to go something like this

Father: Your mother and I are going off for the weekend, and we don t want you watching and X-rated videos while we re away.

Son: Why not? You and mommy do.

Father: Well, yes, but they are for adults only. Look at the label.

Son: But if they re okay for you and mommy, why can t me and my girlfriend watch them?

Father: Well well, because I said so, that s why.

Son: (but sotto voice) Up yours.

Farfetched? Perhaps, but, to paraphrase a line from Allan Bloom s The Closing of the American Mind, when no one else is seriously concerned with it, parents will lose control over their children s moral education. {8}

That was a long quote leaving a lot to be examined, in the begging it says that the only self evident truth is there is no such thing as truth and all judgments are basically moral, tell this to most teenagers and they would be confused because they do not have a strong moral base. What it is trying to say, is no society can be based on truth because truth only exists in the eyes of the beholder, so a strong sense of morals is something everyone can agree on. The conversation with the father and son is a perfect example of what could really happen the son looks for a real reason and not just because an I say so. If a parent says because they say so, it is because if they give the real reason the child will win the argument and they will be defeated. From experience parents hate it when they know that their child has defeated them. I could go on but what the parent is trying to do is Censor their child from something they do not think they are ready for.

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