ethics in censorship

Topics: Censorship, Freedom of speech, Ethics Pages: 5 (1699 words) Published: November 18, 2013
Analysis of Censorship within Ethics
Censorship refers to the suppression of information, text, and/or ideas in the media, which people find to be objectionable. In other words, it refers to withholding information from the public. The opponents of censorship assert that the progression of the world towards a society with no boundaries is being hindered through communication media censorship. In addition, censorship violates people’s freedom of speech and expression. On the other hand, the proponents point out that different communication media dabble with ideas, information, and topics that do not need promotion or even be provided to the public at all. This begs the question of whether censorship is more beneficial than otherwise (CM, 1). In that regard, this paper explains that the public benefits more with censorship than without censorship by government. The evaluation of free expression and censorship requires the use of ethical theories. The two moral theories applicable in this evaluation are consequentialist moral theories (utilitarianism in particular) and deontological theories. Consequentialist theories, which were put forward by different philosophers, such as J. S. Mill (1950), hold that the determination of the rightness of an action is solely dependent on the degree of producing the desirable consequences. Utilitarianism in particular holds that the best action is the one which produces the greatest quantity of good for the most people. Deontological theories put forward by philosophers such as W. D. Ross, on the other hand, hold that the rightness of an action is dependent on other factors rather than the consequences. These factors include the intentions behind the action, the justness of the action, respect of the rights of people it affects, consistency with demands of duty, and the intrinsic nature of the consequences. Both theories argue in favor of rights of expression with regard to censorship (Ward, 84). This discussion in this paper considers elements of both theories. Arguments for Censorship

From a utilitarian point of view, censorship in the media serves to protect minors in the society misguidance using inappropriate material. One such way is that it reduces the amount of violence on television, at least for children. Children mostly learn through observation and imitation. Therefore, it is imperative that they are protected from images, which seem to pass inappropriate information. For example, watching excessive violence may lead children to think and/or conclude that it is right to behave heartlessly, and go on picking off other people on the streets. Matters could get worse if the children start behaving that way towards other children. In this case, censorship serves to regulate children’s exposure to violence; thus, emphasizing on the fact that killing people is not only illegal, but also immoral. In addition, censorship protects children from watching inappropriate material such as pornographic material, which can potentially damage their psychological developmental cycle. This is because they barely know the relevance of their sexual identity, which is best left to personal revelation through body changes with time and subsequent provision of information. Therefore, it is imperative that censorship prevents the delivery of grossly violent, as well as, pornographic events and messages (Reinhard, 164-165). Media censorship is also instrumental in preventing the promotion of harmful products and substances. Media censorship is also commonly applicable in the advertisement of cigarettes and alcohol. Different countries have different cultures, which are based on different values and beliefs. Some countries, especially those in the Middle East Region of the world, believe that consumption of alcohol and smoking negatively affects the human body and should not be advertised. This is because the companies that produce the alcohol or tobacco will never attempt to air the side effects of their...

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Reinhard C. The Ethics of Censorship: Should Governments Cover Our Children’s Eyes? 2006: 164-172. Web. 17.12.2012. < http://ethicapublishing.com/ATEOI_ch11.pdf>
Ward D. V. Philosophical Issues in Censorship and Intellectual Freedom, Library Trends, Volume 39, Numbers 1 & 2, pp. 83-91. The Board of Trustees, University of Illinois, 1991
Woloshin S. and Schwartz L. M. Smoke-Free Movies: Sense or Censorship? Effective Clinical Practice, Volume 5, Number 1, pp. 29-30. American College of Physicians – American Society of Internal Medicine, 2002
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