Nichole Earl Ms St. John Senior Workshop 13 May 2008 Argumentative Research Paper Censorship 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) .