Censorship, “Gates” Article
The recipe for a strong argument is comprised of two main facets. One is its ability to persuade and the other its ability to reason. It’s possible for an argument to persuade without reason, but if an article lacks reason and fails to persuade it’s left completely exposed. Alice Bailey and Laura Tallman’s article, “Internet filters are gates, not erasers, to protect kids in library” which appeared in 2009 in The Press Democrat, exemplifies an argument that attempts to persuade while lacking credibility, reason and accountability. The focus of Bailey and Tallman’s article is to persuade the reader to support the idea of internet filters in public libraries in attempt to protect children from pornographic images, to which they claim carry incomparable danger. The article uses fear as a means to persuade and to make up for its substantial lack of evidence and organization. It is is scattered with loaded language and proof surrogates while all together presenting a false dilemma to the reader, which is intolerable in a topic that surrounds the First Amendment. For these reasons the “Gates” article is unacceptable and fails as an argumentative piece of writing.
The issue of censorship in public libraries is an issue of freedom; more specifically it is an issue surrounding our intellectual freedom. Intellectual freedom can be defined as the right of every individual to seek out information from all points of view without restriction. It allows us free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Bailey and Tallman are not alone in their support of censorship. Those in support of censorship believe that there exist materials are too offensive, or present ideas/images that are too destructive to society to stay accessible by the public. I say Bailey and Tallman are not alone because this particular censorship involves images approachable by children, which has raised controversy over the subject for many years. Most of the information we have access to is protected by the First Amendment, but there are limitations. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that there are certain narrow categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment: obscenity, child pornography, defamation, and “fighting words,” or speech that incites violence. The “Gates” piece is a one that envelopes the definition of “obscenity.” Who gets to declare something as obscene? What exactly qualifies something as such? The first issue of Bailey and Tallman’s piece is that it fails to qualify pornography. We’re left to interpret their article equipped with our own definition of porn (which isn’t easy to come up with) without knowing how they would define it themselves. The “Gates” article seams to group all levels of the obscene into one entity to which they call “porn.” The strong statements the article makes from paragraph to paragraph are confusing for that reason. “Porn places children at risk.” “Porn encourages promiscuity.” “Porn desensitizes viewers to violence.” I believe many would agree that pornography is capable of all those things. I also contest that there exists media that could be classified as porn while being incapable to transcend any of these effects. The trouble is that up to this point the word “pornography” does not have a consensus definition or inherit meaning. This is demonstrated by its varied definition across dictionaries. Merriam-Webster classifies pornography as printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings. Meanwhile, Oxford defines porn as obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit. Both these definitions arouse questions that would need answering before understanding something such as the Gates article. Who gets to...
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