(Interpreting Media) Censorship: Yes or No?

One of the biggest debates that my class-mates and I have had in our class “Interpreting Media” so far, is one about censorship. This debate surprised me in many ways as it separated the class into obvious uneven numbers on either side of the argument and people’s reasons for their decision to be either for or against censorship, sparked my need to write this blog post.

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“Censorship: Yes or No? “

Do we keep censorship or get rid of it? I am aware however that this question is not straight forward as it requires serious consideration as it affects not just the judicatory passing the law but a whole society and that either answer you pick to this question can completely affect the state of that society which will then create a ripple effect on humanity as a whole.

Firstly lets define the term “Censorship”

“Definition: the removal of materials that are deemed inappropriate, harmful, sensitive, or politically incorrect for public consumption.”

And within this definition there are many different types of censorship, there is,

  • Moral Censorship: the removal of materials that are obscene
  • Military censorship: is the process of keeping military intelligence and tactics confidential and away from enemy and public
  • Political censorship: occurs when governments hold back information from the citizens
  • Religious Censorship: any material considered objectionable by a certain religion, religion influences war
  • Corporate censorship: is the process by which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to disrupt the output of information that paints their business in a bad light

The reason why this in class debate was so surprising to me was that our lecturer placed a very realistic rule on us, if you choose to get rid of censorship then that’s ALL of it, meaning that NOTHING will be hidden from the public and the opposite goes for the pro argument as well. This meant that the debate brought to the surface very interesting and strong points to support either side.

One of the main points brought up by the Non-Censorship team is that by having censorship you are creating a lack of information or misinformation about what is going on in the world around us. A blog post on targetgdpi.com in 2014, that discusses the censorship debate in great detail, says that  “people are heavily influenced by the media and other sources of information. However, we tend to overlook the fact that there are not only bias but also skewed perceptions of events and reports in the news today. The media do a poor job portraying things as they really are in order to follow a sort of convention and to keep their show on air or their papers in stores. As a result, most of the time we are being fed information that may not be entirely true and sometimes entirely baseless…most media outlets are fighting to report what they believe we want to hear, not what we really should hear-the TRUTH.”

Although I do agree that is it important for societies to understand and know whats going on around them I also believe that it is just, if not more important, to protect people from seeing ALL the horrible truths of the world, especially young people, as they are the most vulnerable because they are yet to experience the world and are therefore a sponge for anything they see. As the blog on targetgdpi points out “The impressionable young minds can’t differentiate between real and make-believe. The amount of violence shown, affects the perception of young children”.

This is one of the reasons why I believe in saying yes to censorship as we need to, as humans, educate the young in particularly, on what good and bad is because every society has standards that need to be met. For example in New Zealand there is a high priority to minimise family violence by the government as well as relevant non governmental organisations due to the prevalence of child abuse cases and all together family violence cases occurring in New Zealand, particularly when compared with other developed countries. This is why I think frequent exposure to harmful material, that would be uncensored, such as news stories, porn and t.v shows and movies that everyone would see, but particularly young people (because they are the future), can completely change major human characteristics like the difference between love and abuse and not having the emotion of fear as the media would be teaching people how to execute abusive and harmful behaviour towards each other.

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The office of film and literature classification is the government agency that is responsible for all media in New Zealand it was created by the films, videos and publications classification act 1993. The central issue that the office must decide is whether or not a form of media is objectionable . An objectionable publication is defined in section 3 of the act as the matters of sex, horror, crime and violence in a way that would be harmful to the public good. Without being kept in check by these standards and the government, people will push the boundaries because they have no sense of punishment or fear which means without this shared human characteristic there will be chaos.

However “times are changing” says targetgdpi, “the newer generation is information hungry. A blanket ban on topics like sex in the media, for example, will only generate their curiosity about it. And censorship of media will only mean that they look into the absolutely wrong places for information. Rather these topics should be discussed in a healthy manner so that the taboo tag is lifted off them.” Again this is why I believe that educating the youth about topics like sex education and awareness of STD’s is so important as like the late Nelson Mandela once said, “the youth of toady are the leaders of tomorrow” and we have to do the best for them.

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The Non-censorship team in the in class debate brought many other good points to the table for example, they said that censorship helps to exposure the true colours of bad people because no one can hide and if you didn’t have freedom in censorship these characters wouldn’t be exposed. This is called “the sunlight effect” and why “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. Another good point is that the resources for censorship can go towards education and that censorship hinders creativity as censorship in books plays and movies may damage their entertainment value and that you can’t voice your thoughts freely in any medium. Although my view on censorship has shifted a little bit with these strong points that were made, I still strongly believe that censorship is needed as without it changes humanity which can be dangerous as not all change is good change.

In conclusion this is not a black and white topic as it is very complicated with lots of points to consider and I’m personally am still on the fence about it as I can see both sides of the argument. But I do know that censorship is protection for people and without it, it will cause chaos but with it, we are handed a version of the world which shifts our perception in a certain way causing great curiosity among young people, especially and can hinder creativity. So that’s why I believe the question “Censorship: Yes or No?” will remain unanswered in its entirety as maybe people are too afraid to make such a risky decision for all of humanity.

References:

http://targetgdpi.com/2014/03/media-censorship-good-or-bad.html 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_abuse_in_New_Zealand 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_New_Zealand 

(All sites visited on 17th September 2016)

 

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