The great debate in terms of the legalities and limitations of censorship are viewed from different angles in different parts of the world. Some countries are serious about this issue while there are also nations who rally about the right to self-expression and freedom of speech. With the advent of internet technology, censorship has taken its level a notch higher. Nowadays, it is not only imposed and practiced on print, speech and television but also in cyberspace.
Books have been banned, scenes from movies have been removed and internet access had been subjected to stringent regulations, in some countries like China, Syria, Yemen and Pakistan, among others. Critics and supporters have discussed their negative and positive views about censorship.
For analysis, here are the benefits and setbacks on the practice of censorship considered by these two parties:
List of Pros of Censorship
1. It exists not to curtail the freedom of the people but to protect them.
Advocates say that censorship regulation, especially in the internet, can keep the people, particularly the children, from exposure to pornographic materials and racial discrimination. The internet is a source of information, including certain sensitive issues like racism and violence. Not having access to these things, whether in print or online, can protect them from being victims of sexual abuse and racism and being perpetrators themselves.
2. It can minimize risks in national security.
One of the uses of censorship is to keep certain sectors or people, if not all, from gaining access to information that can put the security of nations out in the open. Sensitive and confidential military information will be kept out of the hands of terrorists if there is a limitation on the access of information, specifically on the internet.
3. It prevents the airing of too much violence which can pollute the minds of individuals.
Proponents are pushing for censorship because it limits the exposure of people and children to violent and vulgar television shows which they believe can have an impact in the minds of individuals. There are movies and shows on television that promote violence overtly with disregard to how it can affect a person. They also point out that these types of shows can motivate people to commit crimes, saying there are story lines that border on glorifying criminals and mass murderers. With censorship, there will be balance in the morals of society.
4. It can help parents in rearing their children despite their busy schedules.
Parents are not always there to monitor the television shows kids are watching and the websites children are visiting when they go online. By limiting the channels and sites they can gain access to, parents are assured these young ones are kept from learning about information not proper for their age. As for regulated censorship, it does not totally keep people ignorant about information but controls which information has relevance for them.
5. It prevents certain groups, religious sectors and people from getting offended.
Advocates of censorship argue that without it, people behind television shows, newspapers and products will be irresponsible and bold in the use of expletive words, scenes and tactics to get what they want. If this happens, other members of the society, religious people and even private citizens can get offended from just watching television. With censorship, there will be screening and monitoring before a show is aired and vulgar issues and words will be removed.
List of Cons of Censorship
1. It overtly deprives the public of information related to political and social issues.
Opponents refute the issue that censorship offers protection completely. They say that it can be used by powerful and influential people to hide vital information from members of the society that can harm their reputation and reveal their wrong doings.
Some politicians and leaders of nations with stringent laws on censorship take advantage of this opportunity so as not to expose them from their illegal activities and private affairs like philandering, flamboyance and luxurious lifestyles which can affect the voting public. Censorship prevents the media from revealing the truth from constituents.
2. It clearly is pro-dictatorship.
Critics of censorship argue that it is a platform dictators can use to wreck havoc and fear on people especially in times of civil unrest. There have been instances in the past where political dictators impose censorship on the airing of shows that discuss about politics and issues against the government. Also, opponents have cited the time where international media was prohibited to cover stories in Libya and the strict military censorship implemented during the times of war which are actions taken by dictators.
3. There are loopholes in the enforcement of censorship which makes it ineffective.
Another contention mentioned by those who are against censorship is the lack of enforcement of the law in most cases, particularly on the issue of the internet. Despite numerous bills and laws against cybercrimes, illegal information can still leak on cyberspace. Moreover, with the number of sites created on a daily basis, laws need to be modified.
Critics are looking at censorship as an expense to the government and taxpayers. With the innovations in technology and the sophistication of hacking, a big chunk of money from the national budget is needed to invest in equipment like computers, law enforcement and prosecutions. Opponents are also concerned that these investments can also be used by some abusive government officials and law enforcers against private individuals.
4. It keeps people from progress and development.
With some countries implementing internet censorship, people from these places are deprived of innovation and advancement in technology which can be instrumental to enriching their knowledge and giving access new information. The internet can be an effective platform to learning things that are readily available unlike books and television. If people are prevented to experience the power of the internet or what it has to offer, there will be lesser room for improvement in people’s lives.
Censorship is a powerful tool that can work for or against society and the people. It can be beneficial in some aspects but can also be potentially harmful, if used improperly. It can either result to disseminating balanced information or mask the truth about issues people deserve to know. Now, the burden lies on the shoulders of the people responsible on its imposition. What is important is for members from both sides of the spectrum, supporters and critics, to continue debating on the issue to achieve a kind of censorship that will work for the majority.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.