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Studies In Contemporary Literature: Free Speech

1778 words - 8 pages

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined as determined by the government, media outlet, or other controlling bodies (Wikipedia, 1). This can be done by governments and private organizations or by individuals who engage in self-censorship which is the act of censoring or classifying one’s own work like blog, books, films, or other means of expression, out of the fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities of others, without overt pressure from any specific party or institution of authority. Censorship occurs in a variety of different contexts including ...view middle of the document...

One of the major attacks on the Constitution is censorship which is against the first amendment which provides that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (Rice 37). Censorship would primarily attempt to stop an unintentional effect of certain speech or expression on the internet or other media forms. In other words, censorship would be opposing the idea of individualism in society.
When controlling what people read or view, whether in a book or on a computer screen, censorship limits people’s ideas and their thought capacities. Frederick Schauer, a law professor at the College of William and Mary, stated “Freedom of speech meant not only freedom from any form of government control, but also freedom from private social pressures that could also inhibit thought and opinion” (113). As citizens of the United States, individuals have the right to be free from government control like censorship that inhibits thoughts, ideas, and free expression and speech. Freedom of expression and speech is a fundamental human right. It also underpins most other rights and allows them to flourish. The right to speak your mind freely on important issues in society, access information, and hold the powers that be to account, plays a vital role in the healthy development process of any society. Censorship blocks individuals from effectively communicating their ideas, views, worries, and needs, making them often excluded from meaningful participation in society and from the opportunity to better their own circumstances. Access to freedom of expression and speech is also vital both to support the development process and as a development goal in its own right. The connection was perhaps most famously put forward by Amartya Sen in his widely cited book – Development as Freedom – where he argued that expansion of freedom is both the primary and the principal means of development.
Censorship is also not justifiable because censorship induces ignorance. Censorship induces ignorance because censorship attempts to discourage or prevent access to the media and the media contains information. The failure to attain that information perpetuates ignorance of that information from the media. Ignorance is an inevitable consequence of all censorship. If information on some topic, person, group, or idea, is censored out for any reason, the knowledge on that topic is made impossible to attain by the consumer inducing ignorance. Censorship also undercuts the very possibility of knowledge by breaking the tracking relationship between our beliefs and truths. There can also be no such easy justification for censorship in the political realm. In order to make sound decisions, such as for whom to vote and what policy to support, people must be well informed...

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