Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On Censorship

"Censorship is not the answer: repressing or stifling free expression is an ostrich move that can only fail as a response to a problem. But it is not censorship to criticize representation that may be harmful or offensive" (Page 78).

"My answer has to be firmly against censorship, because the vast array of human experience needs to be represented in art and in literature, as well as in other forms" (Page 123).

These two quotes are from the book "The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It," by M. Gigi Durham. This is an excellent awareness-raising book on this important topic. I appreciated much of the information provided by the author, but especially these two quotes. Many people concerned about the content of TV, movies, and other media advocate censorship as a possible solution to the problem. Censorship by govenment creates more problems than it solves. Questions like who decides what should be censored are impossible to resolve to everyone's satisfaction. I believe there's a very thin and almost invisible line between censorship that blocks content determined by some to be obscene, immoral, un-American, and unpatriotic; and censorship that blocks expression of religious beliefs or artistic endeavors. However I believe it's very appropriate and mandatory for parents and guardians to censor what their children read and watch on TV or on the computer as well as the games they play and the movies they attend. Of course there are always some parents who fail to protect their childen from such harmful media exposure. However the solution is not for the government to act as parents for those people. In this post 9/11 world where our freedoms are already endangered, thanks largely to the Bush Administration, but also the repressive Patriot Act, as well as the Homeland Security Dept., that's simply too dangerous and only a short distance from undermining our freedom. The quote by Durham from Page 123 expresses the truth very succinctly. People need to have the freedom to express themselves. Any attempt by government to censor expressions that they determine are immoral, obscene, or inappropriate will inevitably silence some races, religions, cultures, political ideas, etc. more than others, and in so doing be harmful to democracy and freedom.

Leonard Nolt

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