Censorship: A Love Story

Censorship in America, like many other topics, is not black and white and thus, must be analyzed and evaluated in order to deem its proper application in any issue.  In the subsequent paragraphs, I will be explaining how censorship should be applied within homophobia, violence and sexism in advertising, and news outlets.  I hold liberal views among each of these topics; however, as a result of my first point above, the application of censorship will be flexibly applied to each of these issues all while connecting each other through the same theme.  Some would say that there must be censorship of the LGBT community in society and back that argument with religious rationalizations.  Many will say that censoring anything in advertising somehow takes away country-given rights (emphasis added.)  I know many parents would agree that censoring the news to some extent would be a good idea considering the unsuitable content their kids become exposed to.  Censorship should only be employed and supported when it is used to avoid oppression and hate speech; homophobia inappropriately causes censorship of the LGBT community, without proper censorship of violence and sexism in advertising it can cause wide societal oppression and hate speech and although in a perfect world there should be some censorship within news outlets there mustn’t be, for that would be a dangerous path which is not worth censorship of any kind.

Having prefaced the multiple ways the application or lack thereof of censorship must be used in order to avoid hate speech and oppression, we must push towards censorship of homophobia and motivate society to accept the LGBT legally and morally.  I believe that everyone should have equal rights under the law and should not be negatively judged or recognized as outsiders in society.  Although one can speak volumes about the recent spike in the number of states that recognize and/or perform same sex marriages as suggested in an article published on the Huffington Post website, there still remains a dire portion of America that refuses to come to grips with simply giving all people equal marital rights among the law[1].  Ann Coulter is famously among one of those people.  In her internet article, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Call Our Troops Homophobes”, Coulter bitterly makes what she seems to think are coherent and well-founded arguments supporting the oppression of gays and lesbians in the military[2].  Quite to the contrary, by using blatant mockery and verbal bullying, she exhibits the very core of what is fowl, shameful and just plain wrong with the opposition’s argument of censorship of homophobia.  Luckily, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was finally repealed and while article’s that contain a bulk of hate-speech should be censored to the public, Coulter’s unruly commentary was left to do nothing but give her a bad name.  Many Americans who oppose gay marriage do so with a foundational belief that god intended marriage to be between a man and a woman.  This in itself is a questionable argument but assuming it is a valid one, why can this govern our country?  There is something that is not so insignificant called the separation of church and state.  This, unlike marriage, actually is specified by America’s founding fathers.  Society must take steps to diminish homophobia and beside censorship of hate-speech, it is the responsibility of the people to ensure we reach our goal by incorporating pictures and stories of LGBT and their families in school books, television shows, community events and the like.  After all, they are our nurses, teachers, engineers, and tax payers who contribute just as much as the person next door, so why would feel it is right to treat them any differently?  It is fundamentally immoral to deny the LGBT common American rights and it is equally crucial to continue the shifting of society so that a gay couple can freely kiss each other on the street just like a straight couple can without feeling oppressed or in danger.

Constructing upon the same principle of censorship being practiced only when its purpose is to avoid oppression and/or hate-speech, we must also support censorship of violence and sexism in advertisements.  I believe that the severity of violence and sexism in advertisements has significantly increased over the past couple of decades partly due to the abundance of advertisements all around us and partly because of this notion that “sex sells.”  I feel that the current and potential fall-outs that result lack of censorship in these areas cause damage and take society backwards instead of ahead.  Particularly, and most crucially, what kind of example is the exposure of all of these hate-speech and oppression filled ads setting for children and adolescents?  The Huffington Post published an article in which it lists several sexist Super Bowl commercials[3].  One of which was created by Miller Lite; this commercial shows two polished and attractive women initially arguing over why Miller Lite is a good beer and eventually the two women end up fighting and ripping each other’s clothes off in public in a large water fountain.  I feel this commercial to be highly inappropriate for anyone to watch because it objectifies women and because of the suggestions that (1) attractive women drink beer (2) it is sexy for women to fight (3) violence is humorous, but it is more disturbing to know that millions of kids that were watching the Super Bowl watched this commercial.  Most kids and adolescents do not have the ability to correctly interpret these messages and thus, something like this should definitely be censored from public television and especially during daytime, “family-friendly” television.  An opposing argument is that it is the responsibility of parents to have sit downs with their children to explain what these advertisements mean and why they should not be taken seriously.  The problem is – they should be taken seriously!  It is the responsibility of parents to monitor what kids watch and for that same reason it becomes a societal responsibility was well.  With the ever-growing world of technology it is becoming more and more difficult to monitor and take the time to explain and properly interpret things for young people.  Schools, companies and advertisers should all take responsibility for what our future generations are exposed to because that directly shapes who and what they become.  It is not an “out of this world” proposition that when young kids see something on television or in magazines, that they will try to re-create, mimic or find it to be acceptable behavior[4].

In order to diminish hate-speech and oppression, censorship of homophobia and censorship of sexism and violence in advertisements must be supported, and it follows that we should support no censorship in news outlets.  I feel a slight curve in this issue because I believe that entertainment has taken over the news, not only because of the uprising in popularity and consumption of television, movies, video games, social networks etc., that has shifted and seemingly tyrannized people’s interests, maybe the news thought that it had no choice but to re-invent itself to mirror the entertainment phenomenon.  Some may suggest that this occurred naturally because what sells and provides high ratings is what makes the news nowadays[5].  And what is it that allegedly sells? Sex and violence does.  So, if this is true, is it safe to say that we as a society control the news and what is being viewed/presented?  I have a hard time agreeing with this because I am one of those rare people that actually likes to know what is really going on in the world and likes to be informed of educational occurrences instead of what the dog of the week sis on channel 5.  Having said that, although it would be ideal for me individually to have a lot of the empty, entertainment filled news be censored, I think that opens up the door for important real life issues to be censored and that is unacceptable.  I believe everyone has the right to information – real news information.  There should be no censorship within real news outlets.  I find it increasingly difficult to find such an ideal outlet, but the one source I do count on is Democracy Now[6].  I think that one way to cure the current issue is to separate entertainment from news outlets.  In order to do this, we must again, start in grammar school to educate kids on the differences and importance of the two so that they demand of society changes.  Education is the key to re-establish reliable news sources.

To clearly bind these issues together, we are ethically obligated to employ censorship to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans; we are morally responsible for censoring hate-speech and sexism in all advertisements; and as a society we are to be held accountable for the lack of interest in reliable and legitimate news sources.  Fairness, equality, protection and information are all unequivocal American values and there should be nothing to stand in the way of plainly making these values available to all Americans.  We must make marriage equality the law of the land and enact laws against homophobia in every state.  We must incorporate a government department that oversees and regulates inappropriate content in advertisements.  We must install school subject classes that cover the importance of the news and educate young people to understand that the news is a part of real life which makes it a part of their lives and that it is more important and valuable than the profusion of entertainment that is available to them.

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22 thoughts on “Censorship: A Love Story

  1. Censorship plays a huge factor in our society. I agree that we are ethically obligated to employ censorship to protect the right of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. We need to censor hate-speech and sexism. Yes, we are given the right for free speech, which means that we can express whatever we would like. However, I do believe that the government should push us in the direction where we are improving as a society and country. Overall, censorship is taking away some of our free speech. Yet, in case such as preventing hate speech from spreading and planting a bad send in people’s minds, it can some times be a good thing.

  2. Censorship is an affront to everything good and American. We can’t trample all over the constitution simply because someone’s feelings are hurt if that’s the case where does it stop? I would love to see how long it took for shows like south park to be shut down all together. If we call speech that is negative about people who live “alternate” life styles than why shouldn’t we censor language that is critical of religion and the government aswell ? Both can cause violence and both hurt people, institutional censorship is wrong if we don’t like what’s on T.V or the radio change the channel or station so you’re not offended don’t try to police and bring back some state run habituation the laws we have are already overreach enough.

    • I agree. There are some cases where speech can offend others. However, do you believe that hate-speech should continue? Yes, there is some stuff that we can avoid. For example, South Park, we can easily turn off the television or change it to a different channel. But, what do we do in cases where companies display offensive material on billboards (hate-speech) where everybody can see it, including children. On TV we can just change the channel or turn it off, but in that case you can’t. Do you suggest that one should just drive through a different street and avoid it completely? Even then, you may run into something else. Do you believe that it is still okay to encourage ignorance?

  3. Ignorance is being unaware or uninformed; censorship would be the cause of true ignorance not hates speech. As for children, your right we can’t turn everything off , so why try? Why not teach children that things are wrong rather than have the government step in and do the job of parenting for us? I am opposed to any form of censorship whether it is on hate speech or not free speech is important and we have already let to many right be weekend without encouraging the government to control the way we speak as well. I’d rather have the harsh bitter and brutish truth than the candy coated censored government approved “truth” anyday.

    • Okay, when would you suggest would be a perfect age to explain a child mature topics such as these? Age 1? 2? 3? Maybe 10? Why would a parent want to live in a society such as that? I wouldn’t say that we would leave it up for the government to teach children what is wrong or right. I agree, parents should be responsible in teaching them that. However, the big role that the government plays is to keep its people alive and safe. If that’s not fulfilled, then what’s the propose of the government?

      • Keeping people alive and safe is very different form censoring what people see. Im all for the rule of law and defending our country from foreign invasion but as soon as they try to inculcate me with their good and their bad we have a problem. The government has no business censoring anything if you want to control what your kids watch on tv use the v-chip it was put in your tv back in two thousand four and it blocks shows. Most cable or other television service providers have parental controls if parents are to lazy to use them that their problem but don’t gag me. As for teaching your kids.. that’s your business not mine again personal question not government question solve your own problems.

      • I agree, Anayeli. For some ill reason we live in a time that people have a very strange disdain for government. I interpret it as self-hatred, really. The function of government is right there in the word… to govern. We elect people to do this (generally speaking, don’t get me started on gerrymandering and voting frauds) and the results of this are the roads we drive on, the labels on our food and the firemen that show up at your house when there is a fire. If people want to live so badly in a government-less society they are living in the wrong country. Bottom line, government is here to aide and regulate and the more time we spend criticizing it instead of participating in it the less optimal outcomes we will experience.

  4. Being uninformed doesn’t sound like a good idea, i especially don’t want to leave it up to the government to decide what information we should or shouldn’t be allowed. I believe on children there should be censorship however it should be left up to the parents of the child and even the school to agree what is acceptable for their children. Every family is different, every child is different and censorship should be accordingly. Lastly, I believe if someone doesn’t want to know what is happening in the world then they should just plug their ears and scream.

  5. Censorship plays a larger factor in our society. Sometimes I think that we need to not be as sensitive to these topics. I think that censorship does take our right to free speech away. I agree with Ricardo and him saying just because it hurts one person, doesn’t mean we need to shut it down to everyone. There are many things in life that people aren’t always going to agree with and we shouldn’t have to cover something up because one group of people doesn’t agree. There are important things that need to be broadcasted so us, as Americans, can stay informed. I think people are so afraid of hurting someone that they keep us out of the loop.

    • Devon, let’s be realistic and throw out the argument that “just because it hurts one person, doesn’t mean we need to shut it down to everyone.” There’s no real and considerable thought placed in that argument. Of course, no one is going to try to censor something that only hurts ONE person. But, we as a society (I won’t use the term government because I know that jerks people’s bad side) have a responsibility to each other and to the future generations of this country. No one is trying to take away people’s “rights” = the whole point of this is to try to protect people’s rights in that people should be protected from hate-speech and oppression. These ads are so clever and society is so gullible that all it takes them for is free speech and entertainment. It’s just wrong.

  6. {ricardoperez2 and anayelip }I believe the government should not have any type of censorship, unless the citizens voted otherwise. For example, legal drinking age or to view adult content. If it is in public view I would hope the person designing it put into consideration the location and take on the responsibility of making it public friendly. This being said every child matures at a different rate. The age you decide to talk to your child depends on the child and you. As the parent you must teach your child the difference between right and wrong. They should also be exposed to each position on topics. A question about a billboard can the the gateway to a conversation of ethics. If you start them off young we might not have to worry about our future if everyone analysis ethic issues.

  7. I believe it’s very hard to draw the line regarding censorship. What is acceptable and what is not? I don’t believe the government has a right to censor what we watch on TV, look at in magazines, or what we see on billboards. But on the other hand, I do see how some people can take certain content extremely offensively. I personally would not want to drive down the street and have my children see a sexually explicit billboard or a billboard containing extreme amounts of violence. But on the other hand, I understand that it is not legally acceptable to ban these types of content just because they are offensive to some people.

    • Sydney, you are right in that it is a very hard thing to draw a line between. It is complicated and quite frankly needs SIGNIFICANT thorough analysis and consideration. But, you said it so yourself… would you want your children to see a sexually explicit billboard containing extreme amounts of violence? The answer is no. The issue here is not banning anything any given person (or government) deems inappropriate. The issue is censorship and regulation. Contrary to what people interpret these terms to be, they are not the do all and end all of people’s rights. It’s just common sense.

  8. I feel censorship is chosen to hide and expose certain topic in the world today. Let’s look at hate speeches and rallies again the gay community. When it’s something the world does not agree with it’s seen everywhere, but I do not feel it should be censored because then freedom of speech would go away. I think toning down the publicity it receives is definitely needed. Violence and sexism advertisements should be censored and are not because it is look at as helping to sell a product and is not blow of context due to big dollars backing it. The news was not meant to compete with TV show it was meant to keep us inform. Now they feed us this nonsense news to keep us entertain and clueless of the real issues that my friend is sneaky censorship and we need to make a stands about that. When are we going to make a line in the sand?

  9. I am a big fan of being opinionated and speaking one’s mind to get their point hears. But in essence if you censor one group to give a voice to another, you are then just continuing the problem I feel. Now, don’t get me wrong I do feel that the hatred and the violence needs to come to an end, I still feel that taking away their rights is wrong. Everyone deserves to be heard regardless of whether we like what they have to say or not. Censoring in general I feel has its limits that it should reach so that children do not become overly exposed to adult scenarios that they are not mentally ready for. Though, once that time has passed, I feel it is in the best interest for them to see what the world is really like and how people and others handle issues or conflicts involving difference of opinion.

  10. Gays like straights should be aloud the same rights! We are all human right? So we should all have the same rights regardless of who we love. This issue is frustrating because i dont know how people can be so judgmental about something that has nothing to do with them. If society is not making you, personally marry another man/women then it should have no affect on you and the person you love. Love is between 2 people not the whole community. And just like individuals have there own beliefs about religion, politics etc.that will not necessarily be the same as your neighbor nor will their relationships and love. So just like anything else you have to accept the fact that someone isn’t the same at you and either remove your self from the situation or deal with it like anything else!

    • Thank you for your comment, Erika. I would just like to point out that if the author’s of some of these comments actually took the time to read the blog above, maybe they would have invoked some critical thinking skills into their comments/oppositions. It’s fine and dandy to spew all day about your general fears and unwarranted beliefs about the mere term, “censorship” and quite another to illustrate or produce thorough and meaningful contributions about these very real and problematic issues. A lot of alternative solutions to my theories involve the changing of society. How can society change when fear mongering is transparently embedded into the psyche of American citizens?

  11. I heartily agree with your stance in accordance with homophobia and the LGBT individuals that are a part of society. I’ve always thought it was silly to judge someone based on who they prefer to spend intimate time with. I could not imagine sitting in a job interview and having someone ask me, “So, Mia, do you prefer sex with a man or a woman?” That would be ridiculous first because it’s none of your business and second because the answer to that question would not impact the way I do my job. That being said, I am against government censorship. I believe some things should be regulated, either through their own industries or by society.

  12. (1) attractive women drink beer (2) it is sexy for women to fight (3) violence is humorous, but it is more disturbing to know that millions of kids that were watching the Super Bowl watched this commercial. How do we teach kids that those top 3 things are not right as it flashes past their eyes? Can we side bar our children every television ad or exposure to sex or violence when it happens? Taking advantage of a teaching opportunity is a lot of work. I do not have kids myself so I am not completely aware or educated in the act of parenting but I am sure with censorship in a few choice areas will give parents the help they were always looking for. I can’t count the number of times my parents told me to close my eyes during certain parts of a movie and I would still peek past my fingers to see what was going on. I never understood what the matter was until recently and If an honor system is the only way for us stop our kids from being exposed, I believe that censorship can play a big role in the development of our future.

    • Fred, you took the words right out of my mouth. We cannot as much as we would like to be able to control what our kids are exposed to, side bar our children, especially with the tremendous amount of ads that are being shoved in their faces today. So, why would it be out of the question to find a way to regulate the content? I do not see anyone up in arms about the mandatory movie rating system we have in place right now? And that is something that as parents we can control a large part of. We cannot control what our kids see on billboards or walking through the register aisle at the grocery store. Therefore, why would it be such a fatal infringement upon people’s “rights” to try to regulate the gruesome content in advertisements? The answer is, it’s not. People overplay the notion that America equals freedom and therefore that entitles me to do as I wish. Welll, no – that’s now what America is about. Do some real digging and stop watching Fox News (not you, Fred.)

  13. I was interested in the part about animal rights. Do you think there is an obligation to kill the animals we use for food as humanely as possible or is it alright to utilize the cheapest way to kill them whether the animals suffer or not? Is the only exception to hurting animals in situations that they are being used for food or are there other exceptions such as when an animal is considered dangerous to the people around it, hunting for sport, or any other situations? Also what animals do these apply to and if other animals are being used for food or their other products is it ethical?

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