Censureship Leaves Us Impaired

September 28, 2011
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
“Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.” Gen William C. Westmoreland
In the 1960s, the freedom to see reality exposed the elusive man behind the curtain. Media coverage without the obscurity of military censors opened the American people to the Vietnam War and to reality. Never before, had the general public seen the brutalities of war—at least not within the intimate confines of the living room. Never before, had America, as a whole, succeeded. America had seen war in real time and now understood how real war is. The media spotlight on the war caused people to really think and dramatically flipped their perceptions. Naturally, questions arose. Is this what war is really like and what else has the government tied to hide? Without censorship, the public mind can make sense of world around it, respond to what is seen and make informed decisions.
The basis of all censorship is fear. Fueled by their irrational apprehension of so-called objectionable ideas, authoritarian bodies suppress the controversial to protect the common good. The question is: what is the effect of allowing a few people to decide what is good for the general public to see or read? This control over ideas does not give the public mind credit for comprehending information, is not just, and often simply doesn’t make sense.
At first glance, controlling the violent content of movies that children see might seem to have a reasonable goal. However, in reality the guidelines imposed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) regarding violence are quite confusing. Although the specific rating regulations are not publically known, generally movies that have blood and gore receive a PG-13 rating and above; whereas, movies with violence with limited bloodshed are given a PG-13 or below rating. This is backwards; bloodless fighting is frightening. From a young age, children are drawn to the screen. Often times, the programming made for the young consumer is unrealistic. In the real world, the concept of a band of men dressed in flamboyantly colored tights fighting the bad guys while avoiding excessive trips to the emergency room is greatly exaggerated. Clearly, children’s programming of violence is misleading, and if kids try to re-enact what they see on the television show and get hurt, they would learn that the world of superheroes is a lie. The truth is that violent behavior is awful and repulsive. In contrast to Power Rangers, people often criticize Disney movies for being sugar-coated, but in the classic film, Bambi, the impact of death is deeply explored. After his mother’s violent death, Bambi has to learn how to cope without her and move forward with his own life. By withholding reality from kids, the rating system is teaching them to have no respect for life. According to the legitimate common good, parents should not force the world to be child-friendly, but should raise their children to be world conscious.
Unfortunately, censorship is destroying history and making people unconscious to the world around them. Earlier this year, the censorship of The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin created controversy when publishers released an edition of the book which replaced the n-word with slave and Injun with Indian. These words were a part of the daily life of the novel and illustrate the social relationships between the characters. By replacing these words, future readers will not gain a proper understanding of the book and its history. The word slave is not a synonym for the n-word. One of the words is full of anger and prejudice while the other describes ownership. Cleaning up the language in the novel does not make our history dirt free. People of the present must not sell the world’s legacy without informing the future of our foul past.
“Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.” Gen William C. Westmoreland
In the 1960s, the freedom to see reality exposed the elusive man behind the curtain. Media coverage without the obscurity of military censors opened the American people to the Vietnam War and to reality. Never before, had the general public seen the brutalities of war—at least not within the intimate confines of the living room. Never before, had America, as a whole, succeeded. America had seen war in real time and now understood how real war is. The media spotlight on the war caused people to really think and dramatically flipped their perceptions. Naturally, questions arose. Is this what war is really like and what else has the government tied to hide? Without censorship, the public mind can make sense of world around it, respond to what is seen and make informed decisions.
The basis of all censorship is fear. Fueled by their irrational apprehension of so-called objectionable ideas, authoritarian bodies suppress the controversial to protect the common good. The question is: what is the effect of allowing a few people to decide what is good for the general public to see or read? This control over ideas does not give the public mind credit for comprehending information, is not just, and often simply doesn’t make sense.
At first glance, controlling the violent content of movies that children see might seem to have a reasonable goal. However, in reality the guidelines imposed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) regarding violence are quite confusing. Although the specific rating regulations are not publically known, generally movies that have blood and gore receive a PG-13 rating and above; whereas, movies with violence with limited bloodshed are given a PG-13 or below rating. This is backwards; bloodless fighting is frightening. From a young age, children are drawn to the screen. Often times, the programming made for the young consumer is unrealistic. In the real world, the concept of a band of men dressed in flamboyantly colored tights fighting the bad guys while avoiding excessive trips to the emergency room is greatly exaggerated. Clearly, children’s programming of violence is misleading, and if kids try to re-enact what they see on the television show and get hurt, they would learn that the world of superheroes is a lie. The truth is that violent behavior is awful and repulsive. In contrast to Power Rangers, people often criticize Disney movies for being sugar-coated, but in the classic film, Bambi, the impact of death is deeply explored. After his mother’s violent death, Bambi has to learn how to cope without her and move forward with his own life. By withholding reality from kids, the rating system is teaching them to have no respect for life. According to the legitimate common good, parents should not force the world to be child-friendly, but should raise their children to be world conscious.
Unfortunately, censorship is destroying history and making people unconscious to the world around them. Earlier this year, the censorship of The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin created controversy when publishers released an edition of the book which replaced the n-word with slave and Injun with Indian. These words were a part of the daily life of the novel and illustrate the social relationships between the characters. By replacing these words, future readers will not gain a proper understanding of the book and its history. The word slave is not a synonym for the n-word. One of the words is full of anger and prejudice while the other describes ownership. Cleaning up the language in the novel does not make our history dirt free. People of the present must not sell the world’s legacy without informing the future of our foul past.

In every era, censorship is a self-destructive process. Censorship feeds off the idea that people are powerless to discern the common good for themselves. As a people, we have created censors to improve our judgment, but they have left us impaired. We are much smarter than what General Westmoreland gives us credit for. The words of L. Neil Smith actually sums it up best, “What’s so frightening about people owning and governing their own lives?” In short, it comes down this. Are you willing to take ownership of everything the world has to offer: the good and the bad?





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback