Nichole Earl

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					Nichole Earl

Ms St. John

Senior Workshop

13 May 2008

Argumentative Research Paper

       Censorship is briefly defined as the practice of supervising conduct or morals and

a censor as someone who examines materials and prohibits what he or she considers

morally, politically, or aesthetically objectionable. There is considerable disagreement

over what behavior actually constitutes censorship. The term is used solely in reference to

actions taken by a government or other official agencies. Other times the term is used to

describe the actions of citizens or other non official parties. Differing interpretations of

censorship make it difficult to agree on when censorship becomes a necessity. This

contentious topic is described to have diverse perceptions.

       We live in a society in which many national or local legal systems impose

particular often very narrow restrictions on access to information. Moral censorship is

identified as any material that is considered questionable morality is removed. The

censoring body is removed and limits access. Scarface, a film originally completed in

1932, was graphically violent resulting in the censorship of the cultural, historical and

traditional movie.

       Military censorship is defined as all types of limitations conducted by personnel

of the Armed Forces of the United States, to include armed forces censorship, civil
censorship, prisoner of war censorship, and field press censorship. Additionally, military

censorship may involve a restriction on information or media coverage that can be

released to the public. This is also considered acceptable by even democratic

governments as necessary for the preservation of national security.

       Political Censorship occurs when governmental information is suppressed from

citizens. The logic is to prevent free expression needed to resist and revolt.

“Democracies do not officially approve of political censorship but often endorse it

privately.”(Nakaya) It is also the suppression of views that are contrary to those of the

government in power. The government has the power of the army and the secret police,

which results in the fact that thousands of journalists, authors and editors of any kind

have died or lost their careers at the hands of a vicious political hierarchy. Most

democracies condemn political censorship, but some privately endorse it. The Watergate

scandal is a general term for a series of political scandals during the presidency of

Richard Nixon that began with five men being arrested after breaking and entering into

the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel complex in

Washington, D.C. during 1972. The scandal reached to the top levels of American

government. As a result an attempt to cover up of the break in ultimately led to Nixon’s

resignation. The press revealed that this burglary was just one of many illegal activities

authorized. They also revealed the immense scope of crimes and abuses, which included

campaign fraud, political spying sabotage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits, illegal

wiretapping on a massive scale and a secret slush fund laundered in Mexico to pay those

who conducted these operations. President Nixon organized his staff to cover up the

break-in as early as six days after it occurred. Investigation revealed that Nixon had a
tape recording system in his offices. He had recorded many conversations that undeniably

showed evidence of Nixon recorded on tape, exposing that he had obstructed justice and

attempted to cover up the break-in.

       Religious Censorship is labeled any material objectionable to a certain faith is

removed. Generally the dominant religion provokes the prevalent one forcing limitations.

Alternatively, one religion may reject the works of another when they believe the content

is not appropriate for their faith. A well known example Vatican of Galileo’s support for

heliocentric theory was suppressed. Galileo was known as the king of science thus

playing a major role in the scientific revolution.

       Corporate Censorship is the process by which editors in media outlets intervene to

refrain from the publishing of information displaying business or business partners in

negative conditions. Media bias is used to describe a real or perceived bias of journalists

and news producers in mass media. Practical limitations to media neutrality include the

inability of journalists to report all available stories and facts, and the requirement that

selected facts be linked into a logical narrative.

       Censorship is very controversial leading to differentiated outlooks; for and

opposing. Supporters agree prevention of specific information can be useful. In wartime

censorship is carried out with the intent of preventing the release of in formation so it is

no use to enemy forces. “The release of strategical information usually presents a greater

risk of casualties among ones own forces and could possibly lead to loss of the overall

conflict.”(Riley) During World War I censorship was used in letters to against the British.

Officers would go through with a black marker crossing anything which might

compromise operational secrecy before the letter was sent. “Catchphrases were used like
“Loose lips sink ships” as a common justification to exercise official wartime censorship

and encourage individual restraint when sharing potentially sensitive

information.”(Lusky) The representation of every societies misconduct is typically

downplayed in favor of a more nationalist, favorable or patriotic view. For example

Stalin’s photographs were often altered to remove people whom Stalin had condemned to

execution. Educational censorship is arguable for the necessity selective removal of

critical or damaging evidence or comment. The representation of every society's flaws or

misconduct is typically downplayed in favor of a more nationalist, patriotic or favorable

view. Since the target audience is young people many feel censorship is a necessity

towards education.

       The opposing side claims that we have nothing to protect individuals from. They

claim we don’t know what were protecting. Censorship acts as a catalyst for rebellion

against censorship and yet without censorship there would be no need for rebellion

against it. It ultimately oppresses creativity and expression. Many argue under the bill of

rights. The first amendment represents freedom of expression. “Intellectual Freedom is

the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view

without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which

any and all sides of a question cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom

encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.”(ALA) The Supreme

Court states “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all

subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”(Supreme

Court) Today the United States faces the significant challenge of restoring the traditions

of free speech and diversity of information. Recent problems with internet censorship
have erupted leaving many in disgust. Individuals feel as if free speech involves the use

of the Internet to express the mass quantities of ideas across the nation and across the

globe. “To many people, new information and communications technologies are the link

between the problems of yesterday and the possibilities of tomorrow.”(Usman Qazi)

       Changes to the constitution have been made that are not protected such as fighting

words meaning words that display very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an

immediate breach of the peace. Commercial speech is no longer protected. “The Supreme

Court struck down a state ban on prescription drug advertising on First Amendment

grounds. However, commercial speech which includes advertising, financial and credit

reports, and the like still has far less First Amendment protection than other

speech.”(Usman Qazi) Obscenity was removed. “Material has historically been excluded

from First Amendment protection which has led to the official banning of such classics as

James Joyce's Ulysses and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, as well as the

criminal prosecution of countless publishers, book distributors, storekeepers, film

distributors and artists.” (Usman Qazi) The First Amendment has been one of the great

laws of the land in which U.S. citizens are guaranteed individual rights by the

government. However, there are several cases where this constitutional right has been

overridden. One historical example involves Eugene Debs, a pioneer of the Socialist

movement in the United States in the early 1900's. He took an anti-war position during

World War I and was thrown into prison for publicly expressing this idea. His

imprisonment was upheld by the Supreme Court.
       It is easy that this topic has no clear resolution. “With the passing of the

Communication Decency Act, one would believe that much of the controversy would be

resolved. However, this is far from reality. Many individuals are now stepping forward to

voice their opinions about this topic. It is left to the citizens to make their own decision

on censorship.” (Usman Qazi)