The origin of the term censor can be traced to the office of censor, established in Rome in 443 BC. In Rome, as in the ancient Greek communities, the ideal of good governance included shaping the character of the people. Hence censorship was regarded as an honorable task. So why is it that today, 52% of people feel that censorship is unnecessary and oppressive?
The issue of censorship affects everyone. It covers all businesses, governments, personal relationships, and even ourselves. Probably the most common form of censorship is self-censorship, which is the exercising of control over what one says and does, especially to avoid criticism. Whether noticeable or not, we all subconsciously censor ourselves, proving that this issue is relevant to everyone, not just huge organizations or the government. With the rapid rise of social media and the ever-increasing number of internet users, internet censorship has also come to society’s attention.
By definition, censorship is the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable or a threat to security. For something to be deemed as oppressive it is to be inflicting harsh and authoritarian treatment.
This essay will discuss why censorship is sometimes needed and it is difficult to find a balance that will make all parties satisfied.
Firstly, the censorship of facts, such as news and history, should not occur except when it can potentially harm a person or society. For instance, identities, graphic details and images, and information regarding national security should be concealed in the news. This is so that we are able to protect the privacy of a person or victim, prevent traumatic triggers, and keep the country safe. However, I believe that there should never be censoring of news that is completely true in order to benefit the authorities or corporations. A great example of when censorship becomes oppressive is the case of North Korea. The country is ranked at the bottom of the Press Freedom Index rankings published annually by Reporters Without Borders. From 2002 through 2006, the country was listed as the worst in the world, and from 2007 to 2016, it was listed second to last of 180 countries. In 2017, North Korea was ranked the worst again. To even get the job of a journalist, one must go through an extremely tedious process and a probation period of 4 to 5 years. While in most countries, the job of a journalist is to simply write an account of everything regarding the situation, without alteration to the information. In North Korea, the job of a journalist is to guard, defend and advocate for and defend both the party and its leaders. Already, we can see how the news has already been controlled by the government as they only employ those who are in favor of them. This leads to the people being fed information that only supports the government which causes their opinions to be based on that little bit of information and not much else.
Secondly, censorship in terms of art is often brought up. In this case, people who argue against censorship are often thinking from the point of view of the creator and not the consumer. Children are often brought into the argument of whether certain art is deemed as suitable for them to see or as inappropriate. Larry Magid for Forbes argues that children also have the right to free speech and thus, should be able to view content as they wish. He commits the red-herring fallacy that just because children should be allowed to express what they want as they wish, they should be allowed to choose what they want to view. This argument makes the assumption that children are able to make these sorts of decisions, rendering the role of a parent basically useless. Lastly, we often hear the phrase “not in front of the kids” used by parents. This phrase is used when a parent/guardian wants to hide something from the child. This in itself is a form of self-censorship where the adult chooses to suppress their feelings or situation for the better of the child. Although we do not question why it is important for parents to hide certain things from their children, there seems to be an increasing number of people who are against censoring information from children. A common example for this would be the example of digital content. In my opinion, censorship does help protect the young and impressionable.