Is censorship something that should be allowed and/or tolerated?  Is censorship something that should be allowed and/or tolerated?  

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Censorship never takes away the Right of Free Speech, as the Right is immutable.  Rights cannot be "limited" by some external authority; they can either be exercised or not, but that's contingent upon an individual making that decision.  The freedom to express a Right might be restricted by an authority, but the burden of proof of why this should be rests with those who wish to do the restricting, and that needs to be done on a case by case basis, not in the form of wide legislative action.  Freedoms can be restricted, Rights cannot, but Freedoms should only be restricted if such exercise would impact the Rights of another.

Should parents "censor" media from children?  Absolutely, if they see fit to do so.  This should be done under a parent's concern for children, not exposing them to the harsh realities of life before they can comprehend them.  This isn't censorship at all, only safeguarding a child's innocence, and is reflective of good parenting.

Should "snuff films" be censored? Of course. Actually, they should never be made -- those making such a film are clearly violating the victim's Right to live and should be punished for doing so.

Should child pornography be censored? Of course as well, since it can be assumed the child's Right to be a child has been violated by an adult, and again, as in the case of snuff films, the law should fall like a ton of bricks on those creating such media.

Pictures from the Holocaust?   Not at all. Although disturbing, showing them impacts no one's Rights -- you can choose to look or not. Moreover, these represent historical experiences that should be analysed in the context of the culture they came from. By doing so, hopefully we will see that we have evolved.

Confederate Flags? No again.  If you choose to fly one, I can choose not to look at it. Again, no one's Rights are impacted.  Does it stand for slavery? Does it stand for the Second American Revolution? In a free and tolerant culture, these issues should be publicly debated, and so the artifact can be seen for what it was.


booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Censorship in the broadest sense generally makes me feel like someone's rights are being compromised. However, as time passes and technology surpasses our wildest imaginings, I find that that letter of the law demands that we use censorship in some circumstances.

For instance, if something is placed on the web that under circumstances pre-Internet would not have been allowed to circulate openly in our country's extended community, free speech needs to take a back seat. If something is printed—in pictures or in writing—there is a need for censorship if it is inappropriate for general consumption. Where is that line? Certainly there is a subjectivity to this, but if people can still sue for defamation of character, someone is drawing some kind of line regarding these murky waters—in the courts. A case is being made somewhere and the court system is upholding it.

My biggest desire is that our children don't become fearful, cynical or disturbed by what is out there. I have not seen the picture of Muammar Gaddafi's body, but I can choose not to look at it—as an adult with relatively good judgement for what is good for me. Children and young people don't always realize the permanence of some experiences. Should that be available on-line for our children to see? Recently (and I cannot remember now where it was...perhaps Libya) a picture was released of a very young child shot in the eye. Is this necessary?

Personally, it is hard enough to look at Holocaust pictures. I find it interesting that for me the fact that the pictures from WWII are in black and white makes them easier to face—while I am still deeply distressed at man's inhumanity, the lack of color helps to control the extent of the damage to my psyche. I would think color pictures would be much more apt to create a "being there" moment, which would be very hard to forget. For kids, sadly some of their lives are already horrifying enough.

In some cases, yes—I am an advocate for censorship.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think one thing this novel seeks to accomplish is to set forth revolutionary ideas, and show what can happen when people react either actively or passively.  The book seems to be suggesting that absolute governmental control over anything can become dangerous, especially when the opportunity for people to think for themselves is taken away.  This speaks directly to censorship.

Censorship of anything, by nature, takes the responsibility off of individuals to make informed decisions.  In fact, it takes away the individual right to make informed decisions.  What this novel shows, however, is that humans desire to be informed, and when this right is taken away, something inside us will seek to gain it back.

The book clearly does not support censorship and it is particularly ironic that this book has been on the banned books list (a form of modern day censorship in our culture).  While I do believe there is an appropriate time and place for everything, I tend to lean toward the idea that there are rare instances of appropriate "censorship."  For example, as matter of setting a standard and drawing a boundary, I believe it is okay for parents to "censor" what their children are allowed to view on TV and the Internet.  Likewise, it is probably in our best interest and for our personal safety that we, as civilians, are not privvy to the complete inner workings of government intelligence, detailed war agendas, or other matters of security in government.

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To expand on #2, parental "censorship" would be more of a responsibility than a right, but it is entirely up to the parent; many parents choose to allow their children access to violent programming and porn over the Internet or TV, while others do not. However, this is not the responsibility of a government or Moral Majority to decide; it falls on the parent to choose appropriate input. When we give over our choices and decisions to a "higher power" -- unless that is the choice, as it is in many religions -- we give up our right to free will and personal responsibility. If I am not free to make a bad choice, I am not free at all.

So no, there should be NO censorship at all. Let us decide what is and is not appropriate. We can influence the path of entertainment and art by choosing what we consume, not by allowing a government or MPAA or any Moral Authority to tell us what is appropriate to consume.

Here are a couple of articles with information about censorship in the U.S. and elsewhere.

boblawrence eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Now that we have the Internet, censorship of everything else seems moot.  There is almost nothing under the sun that cannot be found on the web.

So the real question, as I see it, is censorship of the web.  China does this, the U.S. does not.  The question would have different answers in every society.

In the past discussions on censorship and freedom of speech it was argued that freedom of speech should not extend to allow someone to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater.  And this logic still applies today.  The more important question is whether or not anyone, service providers or the government should in any way censor the Internet.

My opinion is that the web should NOT be censored in any way.  It is up to the individual, the parents, or any computer owner/user to apply their own concepts of censorship in their computer preferences.

Finally, we need to deal with television. Right now it is pretty heavily censored...and nobody seems to mind.  I, myself, am mildly concerned that children seem to have access to TV at all hours.  So I do not really object to the existing TV censorship practices.

lit-scribbler eNotes educator| Certified Educator
First, let's be clear about defining the word censorship, frequently used by well-intentioned people in an ill-defined way. Censorship is best understood as the suppression of free speech by the government. Thus, the banning of a book like Huckleberry Fin in a public school, while something I don't agree with, is not in a strict sense censorship. The book is still widely and readily available. And a parent filtering what their child may or may not read or view is most certainly not censorship. Second, in this as with most topics, it is rarely advisable to make sweeping generalizations. It is simply not responsible to say censorship should never be allowed. Most reasonable people would agree that disallowing the free distribution of materials like child pornography is a legitimate government action. Also, the military engages in censorship all the time, suppressing information deemed to be a threat to national security. Whether they do so too often is a separate discussion, but I think most would agree that the military has the right to withhold information that could, say, reveal the identity of undercover agents.
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think there must be a differentiation--as with anything--between extreme censorship and prudent censorship. Bradbury's book depicts extreme censorship. Not only is it extreme, it is for manipulative ulterior motives: it is to gain mass control and take advantage of human dignity by imposing artificial standards of behavior and cognition.

The kind of censorship for which some people are glad, is diametrically opposed to this. It is meant to ensure and enhance human dignity by prohibiting the manipulation of that dignity through malicious intentions, think of Internet bullying and child pornography.

Censorship that serves the purpose of debasing humanity and imprisoning the mind and volition is to be rejected. Censorship that protects human dignity and prohibits abuses to that dignity and to one's liberty to remain unassaulted is to be happy about.

Now--the tricky bit is knowing who might or might not be in a position to make the sorts of distinctions I'm speaking of: legitimate protective censorship versus extreme manipulative, violating censorship such as Bradbury warns against.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think I am inclined to agree in part with Post #5! To a certain extent, censorship takes away some of the rights of the individual but, on the other hand, we as parents, educators, entertainers, and government officials feel a certain responsibility to protect those we deem to be "unprepared" or "immature" enough to handle certain information or media. Is it our right to protect? I say it is to a certain extent, but how much and to what degree?

While we're at it, consider these questions: Do we have any more right to say or print whatever we want to, under the auspices of The Freedom of Speech and Free Press Amendments, than our fellow citizens do to have their rights to NOT want to see or hear certain things? I say, "No, we don't!" It's a very thin line.  But, where do you draw the line? These are hard questions to answer, and ones which certainly merit much careful thought and consideration.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Censorship currently is allowed and tolerated, and I can imagine situations in which censorship could be justified.  The most obvious example involves child pornography.  Another example involves so-called "snuff films," which show people actually being killed for pleasure. Other kinds of films that show extraordinarly unethical behavior presently are censored, and I have no great objection to that fact. In general, however, I oppose censorship and agree with John Milton, who said that he did not admired a "cloistered virtue" -- in other words, the kind of virtue that shut itself off from reality and refused to face reality.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it depends what kind of censorship we are talking about. Obviously, as an English teacher to whom literature is very important I completely disagree with the reasons for the destruction of books as given in this novel. However, as a father and as a responsible citizen I am very glad that some forms of censorship exist in society. I don't want sexual and violent images or works to be studied by my children in school, for example, especially as my eldest is not even ten yet.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not believe that anything should be censored. If a person does not feel like reading or listening to something, they should simply not read or listen to it. It should be based upon an individual/ personal level.

By censoring, a voice is being taken away. No voices, regardless of ideology, should be silenced.

Read the study guide:
Fahrenheit 451

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