Shh! You Can’t Say That!
We live in an age of freedom, at least that’s what we’re told. We have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to express ourselves any way we can. But how accurate is that statement? How far can we actually go before our freedom of speech is taken away from us? What kind of sensitive information do we have to talk about before the government shuts us up? Of course, in countries like America and the United Kingdom, we don’t think about this. We see countries like China, and North Korea, where their freedom of speech is completely taken away from the people. We sit back and feel sorry for these people, but how free are we? Are we just living in a state of delusion? How much censorship is used in the media today, and how long has this been going on? We as people are beginning to see that the information in the media is not reliable anymore, some of us believe everything that comes out of our television set. Is censorship in the media slowly and silently taking away our freedom of speech? “Congress shall make no law respsecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press…” (Leatherman 1). Over the years there have been many attempts to change, or re-interpret the first amendment, or in other words to abridge these freedoms from the American public. A constant attempt that has been used throughout history is censorship in the media. Censorship is either suppressing, removing, or restricting information. We see it today. An easy example is censorship in our television shows, we bleep out curse words, or blur out images on the screen in order to keep it inoffensive to the public. But is something as simple as that taking away our freedom to express ourselves? “Censorship’s main role is to restrict the scope for action,” (Cohen 26). Of course this is not the same case for an example like bleeping out words on your favorite television program. This is on a more serious note, when sensitive information gets out that makes big and well-known people look bad, whether it be the government, or a huge corporation. When people speak out, the people who do the censoring make an example, causing other people to back down. Most of the time we do not notice when information is being censored. We as people are all entitled to our own opinions, to our own thoughts, and our own ideas. That’s part of the “freedom” we supposedly have, that we’re supposedly given. But if you make one wrong move, speak your mind with opinions that are not popular with the public, well then your freedom goes out the window, and you’re punished for it, looked down upon because of it. “In 1988, Salman Rushdie for one thought that a writer could criticize religious bigotry without running the risk that fanatics would murder him… just for telling a story” (Cohen 29-30). Salman Rushdie wrote and published The Satanic Verses in 1988. In Europe, this book received a lot of positive feedbacks, and won two awards. It is said to be one of the most acclaimed and yet most controversial books of the 20th century. Countries began banning The Satanic Verses, one after the other. Pakistan, followed by Sudan, Bangladesh, and apartheid South Africa. Islamists saw the chance to use apartheid’s censorship laws against Rushdie. “The left-wing Weekly Mail and the Congress of South African writers had invited him to visit Johannesburg in 1988 to discuss the censorship of the opponents of white rule, although Rushdie had to pull out because of death threats from Islamists” (Cohen 63). Khomeini, the head of state in Pakistan, ordered the execution of a citizen in a foreign country. At this moment, journalists, writers, people who spoke out and tackled religious themes were no longer safe. Their freedom of speech and their freedom to express themselves and their opinions had been taken away. Religious scholars at this point...
Xu, Beina. "Media Censorship in China." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
"China 'censors HK Protest Posts '" BBC News. BBC News, 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
Leatherman, Brian. "Internet Censorship and the Freedom of Speech." Internet Censorship and the Freedom of Speech. American University, 19 Dec. 1999. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
"ACLU and Drug Policy Groups Sue Over Censorship of Advertisements Criticizing ""War on Drugs""" American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, 18 Feb. 2004. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
Cohen, Nick. You Can 't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom. London: Fourth Estate, 2012. Print.
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