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Sample Essay on Censorship

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    This sample research paper reflects how government leaders and organizations have continued to use censorship in an effort to control people more effectively. The role censorship plays in governing people is truly something one must grasp to understand contemporary international and domestic politics. Whether you are a beginning student or a practicing professional in your field, this issue is important and one you should be as informed on as possible. This particular document is more suited to an introductory level discussion, but Ultius writers are ready and able to write on this subject up to the dissertation level.

    Censorship: true governmental power?

    Conservative views are a group of beliefs that have not experienced much in the way of change. Through the censorship of modern thought, expression and belief, conservative minds have been able to preserve their noticeably closed minded way of doing things. Censorship dates back as far as the age of antiquity and further with Socrates being one of the first notable figures to perish at its hands. Some have come to view the government as a savior for censoring what they consider wrong, while others see the government as overly authoritative in its attempt to pass judgement upon what is right or acceptable for the masses. While censorship is often viewed as a relatively moralistic venture, throughout history, it has actually been one of the key tools by which governments have maintained their control.

    Censorship throughout history

    Over the years the fight for censorship has proven to be dangerous for those who oppose it. History has shown that even though the government was created to help people, their views of what they consider "corrupt" or "profane" have frequently been called into question. According to BeaconForFreedom.org:

    ”Perhaps the most famous censorship in ancient times is that of Socrates, sentenced to drink poison in 399 BC for his corruption of youth and his acknowledgement of unorthodox divinities.”  (Newth).  

    Many think that the government hides the truth behind the guise of protecting the innocence of youth, while others believe that the world is safe from the true evils that surrounds them. Some decisions that governments have made have left endless questions about why censorship ever came into existence. While government policies still insist that freedom of expression is an inherent human right, it seems to feel that it can place limitations upon how far this freedom extends. Whether it is music, newspapers, or media, the government will always play a hand in the extent to which free expression can be exercised, though the view of its use in America has changed as time has passed. 

    Legal Issues with Censorship

    While the censorship of music has cause the greatest stir in modern history, the age of censorship first appeared in print. In early years of the mass marketed press, owners wallowed in defeat if their newspapers were censored, often experiencing a shutdown of their businesses if censorship was employed. In America, the freedoms granted by the 1st amendment to the Constitution are often called into question by censorship. Though many elements of censorship have changed where the free press is involved, not all views of what should be shared is taken lightly. The censorship of the printed word doesn’t just affect newspapers read around the world. High school press papers are well known examples of censorship, due to the perceived "fragility" of young minds. This "preservation of youthful innocence" has long been a shield behind which the supporters of censorship have hidden. The decisions made may not be acceptable or fair to those who oppose them, but the protection of the innocence of youth will always be what is most important for many. 

    Hazelwood school district

    One example of censorship and the question of academic freedom was in the case of Hazelwood School District vs Kuhlmeier. Students who worked for the school paper at Hazelwood East in 1983 thought that it would be a noble idea to dedicate certain parts of the paper to students who:

    • Were HIV positive
    • Were pregnant
    • Lived in homes affected by divorce

    Once the school’s principal, Robert Reynolds, read the proofs of the articles, however, he wanted them removed from the paper. With this decision being made, the students in charge of the paper were outraged, accusing the principal of censorship of freedom of press. Even though the students who were interviewed in the articles were not named, the principal still felt that it was too much of a risk to take in allowing the newspaper be read by other students and teachers. Reynolds feared that the students who were talked about in these articles would be discovered and that it would have been a matter of time before harm came to them.

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    Censorship in the 21st century

    Music has long been a target of censors and continues to be one in the 21st century. For many, censorship represents all that is wrong with the world and that secrets and hidden truths are concealed behind the walls of government. For many parts of the world, the eyes of the people are closed to the secrets carried in their government due to censorship which has been attributed to the concealment of:

    • Planned attacks
    • Embezzlement
    • Genocide

    Still other atrocities remain hidden behind the veil of censorship, keeping the public ignorant to them. For some, censorship can either hurt a community or raise its values to higher standards. However, censorship does protect the innocence in situations where safety can be compromised. In the Hazelwood School District case, it is conceivable that protection was needed due to harm that could have come to the students that were discussed in the school paper. The newest target of censorship is understandably the internet. There has long been a cry to the government to impose regulations on content available online.

    Conclusion

    Censorship may not always be fully understood or appreciated by those it is designed to "protect", but it is sometimes needed for the building of the core values of youth. Like any new policy, law, or rule, there are elements that are not liked or respected. Boundaries will always be tested with censorship, because some believe that no one, particularly the government, should be the judge of what is right and what is wrong beyond established law. Figures of authority will eternally strive to "protect the innocent" that they feel cannot judge or fend for themselves. However, there will always be those who stand in opposition. Certainly, it can be said that there are some things that we probably should not know or see due to its graphic nature and ability to disrupt the emotional well-being of our otherwise happy lives. The question that remains, however, is who gets to decide this?

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    Works Cited

    Newth, Mette. The Long History of Censorship. 2010. Norway. < http://www.beaconforfreedom.org/liste.html?tid=415&art_id=475>.

    Zeinert, Karen. Free Speech: From Newspapers to Music Lyrics. New Jersey. Enslow, 1995.

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