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Censorship In The Media Essay, Research Paper

censorship in the media

Censorship has become far too common in today’s society. It has been,

and is being misused. The following paper discusses this controversial

subject and it’s related effects to certain groups in our society.

The freedom to read is essential to the democratic way of life.

But today, that freedom is under attack. Private groups and public

authorities everywhere are working to remove both books and periodicals

from sale, to exclude certain books from public schools, to censor and

silence magazines and newspapers, and to limit “controversial” books and

periodicals to the general public (Callwood).

The suppression of reading material is the suppression of creative

thought. Books and periodicals are not the only ones being suppressed by

pressures to the political and social systems. They are also being

brought against the educational system, film, radio, television, and

against the graphic and theater arts. Whenever these attacks occur, they

usually fall under at least one of the following categories: religion,

war and peace, sociology and race, language, drugs, sex, and

inappropriate adolescent behavior (Jenkins).

What is obscenity? Clearly something hard to talk about

constructively. Honestly, “obscenity” is a difficult topic to discuss.

After all, what makes a thing obscene? It is something to vague to be

defined. It’s an elusive term we use, but can’t explain. Different

people often see things differently. Some see obscenity in nude

pictures, statues, paintings, etc. While others find less obscenity in

these things. All the same, “obscene” isn’t the same as “wrong” or

“bad”. Clearly obscenity is not identical with evil. It only covers a

single segment of it. But what is that segment? A look at the words

“obscenity” and “pornography” suggests that it is a segment that didn’t

worry people very much till relatively recently (Collins).

Though censorship was known in English law quite early on, it

wasn’t for obscenity but for heresy and sedition. “Undue exploitation of

sex? is what criminal law in Canada prohibits. This is how criminal law

defines obscenity. But it is rather vague. It doesn’t differentiate

between “ordinary obscenity” and “hard-core pornography” (Colley). The

first is the ordinary run of girlie magazines; and the second is

pictures, literature and so on that deal with rape, sadism, masochism,

bestiality, necrophilia and other perversions (Callwood). People tend to

object far more to “hard-core pornography.” Another thing unfortunately

overlooked by our criminal law is the distinction between isolated

instances of obscenity and the products of vast commercial enterprise


There has been an increasing trend towards children’s literature

that reflects a more realistic approach to books both fiction and non-

fiction, with subjects that include sex, homosexuality, divorce, child

abuse, drugs, violence, etc. (Collins). They are these realistic books

that have people outraged. In school libraries, the most frequent

complaints come from parents about the school’s selections. In public

libraries, parents were once again the single greatest source of

challenges to materials (Collins).

The world is filled with “obscene” things. And it would seem that

those parents are just trying to protect their children from the outside

world. But does it really help? These days, an average elementary

school student knows many things. They are influenced by a wide range of

sources, from television and other forms of media, their environment at

home and school, their personality, and their background. What they read

does not necessarily mean that they will follow. Literature is a valued

source of knowledge for these children, and should not be held back


So rather than applying full censorship, it should be made an age-

related censorship. Many of the complaints that were issued were of the

immaturity of the readers. Younger children should be prevented from

borrowing material intended for an older age group. Controversial

materials should still be held either in reserve, available upon request,

or under a section for parents and teachers who can decide for themselves

whether the material is suitable or not.

Our world is not perfect. We are a world filled with violence,

sex, racism, etc. Certain literature like “hard-core pornography” should

be censored to the general public. The types of “explicit sex” truly

have no meaning. They degrade the human race by increasing physical,

mental and sexual abuse against women, animals, and sometimes against men

(Callwood). These inhuman treatments should not be shown to prevent

other potential people from engaging in these acts of disgust.

“Ordinary obscenity” should be censored closely, but with an

objective view. They may also cause an increase in the violence against

women, so they must be reduced and kept out of reach of immature readers

(Jenkins). In one way, young children are like young saplings. To make

a tree grow correctly, you must start caring for it from the very

beginning. You must not block its nutrients, water nor sunlight, but

allow it to move around a bit; as with immature readers.

We have a governing social system that mainly frown upon the

violence against women. There should indeed be access to most types of

literature, but in varying degrees of freedom, determined not by

censorship, but by controlled access. Parents are only trying to protect

their children from the harsh realities of life.

Works Cited List

Callwood, June. Sanitized textbooks reflect a pious paradise that never

was. The Globe and Mail. March 18, 1987. pA2-A3.

Colley, Rupert. Censorship in the children’s library. The Junior

Bookshelf. June 1990. v. 53 n.3 p121-123.

Collins, Janet. Suffer the little children. Books in Canada. October

1991. v. 20 n.7 p25-27.

Jenkins, Dr. David. The Censorship Iceberg: The results of a survey of

challenges in school and public libraries. School Libraries in

Canada. Fall, 1985. v.6 n.1 p19-22.

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