The Debate about Censorship
Censorship, the control of the information and ideas circulated within a society, has been a characteristic of dictatorships throughout history. In the 20th Century, censorship was achieved through the examination of books, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports, and other forms of communication for the purpose of altering or suppressing ideas found to be objectionable or offensive. There have been assorted justifications for censorship, with some censors targeting material deemed to be indecent or obscene. Because of this, ideas have been suppressed under the disguise of protecting three basic social institutions: the family, the church, and the state. In Ray Bradbury’s book, Farenheit 451, there is a strong theme of how censorship molded society. It is a futuristic society where firemen burn books instead of put out fires. The censorship in the book was drastic, to the point of making owning a book illegal. Censorship of knowledge can also keep a society safer and there should be some happy medium between complete loss of knowledge and complete legality of disclosure. At first glance, it appears very simple to argue the case against censorship by talking about universal morals and individual human rights. Unfortunately, the issue is somewhat more complicated than it first appears. Although the principal social actors are the state, mass media corporations and interest groups, it is a topic that runs through the entire society, affecting each family and every individual. This is because censorship is just one small part of the struggle for our thoughts and minds. It is part of a struggle between those who want to maintain social relations more or less as they are and those that interested in protecting their beliefs from what these relations could turn out to be. It is also a question of where the limits to freedom are, and how they in turn depend on power relations. The decision to support or reject censorship is...
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