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Censorship is an issue that has been discussed across the world and throughout history. Opinions on censorship can be found in the texts of many ancient and modern cultures. There are many differences and similarities between the modern and ancient views on censorship. These similarities and differences brought great debate to the ancient Greeks and modern American people.

Plato urged strict censorship of the arts because of their influence on molding people’s characters. Plato argued to the people needed censorship to prevent chaos. David van der Bokke, a student at Monte Vista High School, thought that the media should be censored because, “Children should not be subject to indecent material so as to corrupt their minds.”

Movies are one of the biggest conveyers of morals and ideas to people in America. The movie Money Train portrayed a criminally insane man that would like subway ticket booths on fire with gasoline. A few weeks after the movie was in theaters, someone started setting ticket booths on fire. When the perpetrator was caught, he blamed his actions on the movie. He said that the movie influenced him into doing what he did. In an online forum it was determined that, “Censorship provides people with a means of control. Without censorship people would be able to separate the good from the bad?”

Even though the film industry, has for many years practiced a form of self-censorship it is not actively enforced. In the 1920s, responding to public demands for strong controls, the Motion Picture Association of America imposed on its constituents a system of standards to approve movies. A formal system of film classifications was begun in 1968. Under the system, films are given ratings as follows: “G” (general viewing), “PG” (parental guidance advised), “PG-13″ (parental guidance advised for under 13), “R” (restricted-persons under the age of 17 not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian), and X (persons under the age of 18 not admitted). Only in rare cases do movie theaters in our area ask for identification for people going to see an R rated movie.

The nightly news and daily paper are the main forms of informing the people of the world about events that happened during the last 24 hours. So why should censorship be used in the media? The murder count for 1995 totaled 21,597, which equaled 8 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. Each day at least 1-5 of those murders are covered in a newspaper, magazine, radio show, or news broadcast. Most of the time they are pictured or described very graphically. Children are subjected to these images due to the fact that they know how to turn on a TV and radio or pickup the local newspaper. Ian Johnston said “Censorship provides a safe atmosphere for young children who should not see adult subjects.”

Cartoons, specifically South Park, are a good example of violence in the media. One of the prime examples of this is the character Kenny. Kenny, one of the four “kids” in the show is killed in each and every episode. The part that of it that is a bad influence on children is that it is taken lightly by his friends and forgotten about very quickly. Another example is that is it a good example for the children of America to see their peers cursing at each other? Well in every episode of South Park, they curse, swear and are overall completely obscene. Even though the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has vague rules about program content containing an implied threat that a license can be revoked for repeated poor judgment involving program content, South Park just barely meets the requirements. The Supreme Court ruled that obscenity should be determined by applying “contemporary community standards” rather than national standards. If this is true, shouldn’t every community have a choice on what television shows are aired on TV?

In some communities school boards have exerted pressure on authors and publishers. The pressures included the omission from or include in school texts certain materials relating to various sensitive areas such as evolution, the biblical account of creation, discussions of religious or racial groups, and expressions that are allegedly sexist. Even in our own school district, there are books that are not allowed to be a part of class curriculum. Some individuals and groups have even attempted to pressure public and school libraries to prevent circulation of books and periodicals they consider offensive and succeeded. One of the more covered topics about censorship is the Internet. Miscellaneous groups feel that places of education should not allow the student population to be able to access sites that don’t meet “community standards. A question that has been proposed by university students is “Should the universities and colleges, places of education, carry the newsgroup ‘alt.sex’?”

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