Friday, July 13, 2012

Censorship is Repression

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Censorship is Repression

Is censorship the answer to the issues of hate propaganda within society? Do we shield our children’s eye to the harsh realities in life, and let them discover the shocking truths on their own? It can be nice to pretend that this is a world devoid of hate and perversions, but this is not reality. People have a right to be aware of the multifaceted society in which they are a part of if they choose to. Garry Wills presents the concept of censorship “In Praise of Censure” published in 18, by Times Magazine. He believes that censor may not be an issue that is subject to government enforcement, but it is up to society to enforce censorship. Although Will has stated his support for the first amendment, the freedom of speech, he also agrees with censorship within boundaries. It is an attack on the intelligence of society to censor expressions therefore limiting the choice for an individual to create their own personal boundaries. The bulk of society is capable of developing their own ideas and critical thoughts about the information and art that it chooses to expose itself to.

Mills has pointed the differences between freedom of speech and censorship by using the example Terry Rakolta’s interference with the sitcom Married with children influencing sponsors to withdraw support and the immediate firing of Jimmy the Greek from CBS because of racial comments. Mills points out that there was much more social pressure on Jimmy than Married with Children. Jimmy suggested that black people may be better at sports than other races because of their inherited strength from their ancestors being slaves in cotton fields. This remark may be considered an observation of the vigour of black people and where these strengths may have originated from. If mentioning the truth of African American people being slaves in history is considered a harmful statement then the issue is not of racism, but of the desire to ignore the unacceptable behaviour which occurred in the past. The television show Married with Children had an episode which showed frontal nudity. This episode in particular offended Terry Rakolta and led her pursuit to damage the production’s reputation, by influencing sponsors to withdraw. This backfired as the response from the media encouraged the public to take a greater interest in the show and the amount of viewers rose significantly.

Society accepted the display of frontal nudity, but not the right to speak freely of opinions of black people. Who is to decide which is more degrading, showing females in a manner which may be harmful to society or making comments which could be considered racist. Does any one person or group of people contain the knowledge which is superior to make these decisions? People cannot rightfully say what is right and wrong in the expressions of ideas, therefore the concept of censor is demeaning societies strength of character by proposing that the people cannot decide for themselves. This is the problem of censorship. Who holds the right to say what is valid censorship and what is not? Censorship is based upon protecting the societies morals. It cannot be assumed that the morals of one person will complement another’s.

The role or censorship should be placed in societies hands and not in the form of legislation argues Wills. The minorities of society often have little choice in these matters which leave it in control of the majority to scrutinize expressions of the public. Too often are matters of censor the decisions of those people who hold power and riches.

Wills uses a particular situation in which a photography exhibit by Robert Mapplethorpe which included some photos on the verge of kiddie pornography and sadomasochism was cancelled in order for the Corcoran Gallery to influence the government to continue it’s financial support. One is not expected to support that in which he/she disapproves and the choice to cancel the exhibit was the choice of the Corcoran Gallery. To naturally assume that the art will not be supported by the government shows how censor has repressed and placed limits on artistic expressions even though they may not be illegal.

Will’s arguments portray his opinion of the need for censorship, and also the need for allowing freedom of speech to a certain degree. Censoring a individual or group of individual’s silences their expressions and ideas. Censoring of any kind results in the repression of ideas, and also the repression of those individuals who may have benefited form the exposure to these ideas. The public must be aware of the society they live in. The expressions which may be considered harmful to the public must not be repressed but voiced and further evaluated, analyzed, and approached by each person who has a valid opinion of it. If one does not will to be exposed to those ideas in which they feel may be discriminatory or offensive, one can change the channel, not read the newspaper or magazine article and make the choice to not listen to a particular music group.

Democracy and the political belief system that is a part of modernity is based on choice. We choose our prime minister, we choose our jobs, we choose our exposure to the media. Why is it that our choices are limited by censorship? Do we want to remain ignorant to the issues and ideas of our fellow human beings? Is the choice of what is acceptable to be public knowledge only available to those who hold power? Censorship should be banned to further signify the importance of free and equal speech in the US constitution and to allow for the acceptance of opposing views and diverse morals.

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