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.

Capitalism and Poverty

http://www.dsausa.org/capitalism_and_poverty

 

Being that I have many socialist beliefs as far as how America and the world runs governments, business, social issues, etc., Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” was an intriguing read.  It’s just not that complicated.  As he often reiterates in various forms. “if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.”  Singer wrote this essay in the 1970’s.  I do not know if he is still alive, but if he is I am sure his heart is heavy living now in our “global village” of concentrated and mass Capitalism.  Although, poverty did exist before the Capitalist boom, it has done nothing to reduce or alleviate it.  Capitalism has made the rich become uber rich and the uber rich become godly rich.  The traditional forms of poverty still exist – there is still famine and hunger across the globe.  One thing that has happened is an additional form of poverty.  Capitalism has bred a “fast food” way of living.  In America, specifically, there may not be an enormous amount of “hungry” adults and children, there is however, a dire increase in obesity due to the fast food lifestyles of the economically disadvantaged.  There is poverty by which people are not obtaining proper nutrition which leads without denial, to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, the list goes on.  Capitalism has made healthy and nutritious foods highly unattainable to the average citizen because of the high prices of vegetables and non-processed foods and the dirt cheap costs of harmful and unhealthy foods.

Singer states that when all is said and spoken for – nothing really makes a difference unless these applications and theories are practiced.  The sad part is that but for the work of a few NGO’s, not only are we not getting the job done to attempt to abolish poverty and the new forms of poverty, but we are not even having the discussion on the center stage.

“A Philosophical Assessment”… really?!

http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/ProsViolPosttrauStress.html

After reading the post below, click on the link above to look at stats and more information about prostitution and health.

In “Charges Against Prostitution: An Attempt at a Philosophical Assessment” Ericsson attempts to draw pitiful parallels between the “basic human need” to eat and alleges that sexual relief or pleasure is also a basic human need.  Not only does he consider sexual relief to be a basic human need but he proceeds to propose that one would not find it unreasonable to be given food for free considering it is a basic human need; therefore, “sexual services” should be made available free as well.  The author also purports that 75% of customers within the “prostitution/customer relationship” are married men.  The author implies that this is one of the reasons why married sex is subordinate in “quality” to sex which is purchased.  Ericsson spends a lot of time fluffing up one bad argument after another.  Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.  My problem with the majority of what he argues is that the so-called parallels that he draws are APPLES and ORANGES.  Ericsson likes to say that his arguments are simply facts; he so conveniently and completely disregards other facts such as the kind of backgrounds that the majority of women who do prostitute come from and what role that plays into their lives, why they got there, what their emotional condition is, what their physical condition is.  He spends but not one second discussing the fact that it’s not only “society” that “oppresses” prostitutes, but like Carol Pateman said in her reply essay, “Defending Prostitution; Charges Against Ericsson,” “Prostitution is the public recognition of men as sexual masters; it puts submission on sale as a commodity in the market….”  Ericsson without shame wrote passionately about the reasons he believes prostitution should be legal and why it should fall under the umbrella of “basic human needs”, while blatantly ignoring the sad and disturbing facts about the lives of these women he purports are business people and the social impact this has on the human society as a whole.  Shame on him.

Comparing Cultures…

is always a bias argument whether it is a scholar writing about such a subject or the mere way of life of an indigenous tribe.  One of the problems I have with this chapter and the way it is presented is ok…. the question in point is ” If an action that is praised in one culture may be condemned in another, would it be correct to say that all moral values are relative to the culture they are found in?”  The way this question is portrayed makes it seem as if there is a fair dose of objectivity within it.  However, the proceeding examples that are given ALL refer to minute tribes and indigenous cultures in the global world that conjure up not only indigenous groups but also industrialized countries and societies.  Why would the first criticism shot be at these naturalistic oriented little, little societies making it seem like they are what is wrong with the world?  If this is a serious ethical question at hand then by the definition of volume, those tribes of ten thousand people or less (not to mention a lot of them are extinct or soon to be extinct) should without a doubt not be the first ethical discussions.

One part of the Ruggiero’s chapter that I harmonized with is “(a) that a culture’s values, rituals, and customs reflect its geography, history, and socioeconomic circumstances and (b) that hasty or facile comparison of other cultures with one’s own culture tends to thwart scholarly analysis and produce shallow or erroneous conclusions.”  Again, My problem is if one truly believes this, what is the point or what is the message trying to be relayed when subtly attacking the instituted laws of any culture.  It is difficult for me to accept that an indigenous culture would not only give up their 3 year old but force him or her into a win or lose your life environment, but it is also disturbing to me on a much larger scale that the industrialized world beckons war and bloodshed as a means of resolving social and political issues.

https://www.google.com/search?q=ik+people&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=IXxaUdygFcXr2QX5xYDAAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=882#hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=IK+people%5C&oq=IK+people%5C&gs_l=img.3..0j0i24.11946.13044.19.13045.10.8.0.0.0.0.144.713.3j4.7.0.ekwqrh..0.0…1.1.7.img.Xk2bDqpMJZg&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.44442042,d.b2I&fp=d38d687470db4e69&biw=1680&bih=882&imgrc=FDTN30bmGLiGtM%3A%3B0IQ0Gf-YSM5SyM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fen%252Fthumb%252F3%252F35%252FIkPeople_2005.png%252F230px-IkPeople_2005.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FIk_people%3B230%3B172

https://www.google.com/search?q=ik+people&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=IXxaUdygFcXr2QX5xYDAAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=882#hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=military+violence&oq=military+violence&gs_l=img.3..0j0i24l3.26935.32867.15.32876.17.16.0.0.0.0.231.1597.7j7j1.15.0.ekwqrh..0.0…1.1.7.img.Wov2iHwwhks&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.44442042,d.b2I&fp=d38d687470db4e69&biw=1680&bih=882&imgrc=wh8uobNBsv_sAM%3A%3BjCoOjX_b6fMVjM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.globalpost.com%252Fsites%252Fdefault%252Ffiles%252Fimagecache%252Fgp3_small_article%252Frsz_136007090.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.globalpost.com%252Fdispatches%252Fglobalpost-blogs%252Fgroundtruth%252Fegypt-democratic-advances-belied-military-violence%3B360%3B240

The Story Of Us (the story of many)

The Story of Us demonstrates a bleak insight at the fallout of the traditional American family.  Ben and Kate Jordan met at work and married soon thereafter; proceeding to have two kids and a middle class mom and dad lifestyle.  Ben is a writer and Kate works as a crossword puzzle author.  Both Ben and Kate started with creative careers and were absolutely steaming for each other.  Somehow, they ended up focusing too much on raising their kids and maintaining their household that in the midst of the day to day routine – they lost the connection, the spark.  The film takes the viewer in spades through the ups and mostly the downs of the confrontation and lack thereof within an average married couple in American society and the ride of discussions regarding divorce.

The film highlights the joyful moments within the history of the relationship at hand which includes when Ben and Kate got pregnant and when they had their kids.  In my opinion the movie suggests that one of the failures or downfalls of the marriage was a critical disconnect of communication.  This is one ethical issue I encountered; the need to maintain a healthy line of communication between spouses is a key to survival in a family.  I also believe that a trigger to this effect was the establishment of the “life with kids” institution.  Soccer games, clarinet lessons, school events… it is very easy for a coupe to lose sight of how the family came to be.  Kate feels as if she is the “designated drive” of the relationship.  She is the pragmatic, organized, responsible and for lack of a better word… the predictable one.  Kate takes comfort in structure and knowledge.  Ben is the spontaneous, fly by the edge of your seat, silly and fun partner.  Ben revels in impulsive and natural behavior and believes it to be essential in order to take the edge off of day to day turmoil.  Clearly, this makes for a dire clash of personalities.  During the film, each spouse solely discusses their thoughts about the course of the 15 year marriage and at one point, Kate says that arguing was the exception, and then it became the condition.  Ben is tired of feeling unwanted and unappreciated.  He misses the relationship they had before marriage and before kids.  He refers to the “fun girl” Kate used to be frequently in the midst of heated arguments.  The couple experiences many furious and painstaking fights in which all they do is blame each other for the unhappiness each is undergoing.  The finger-pointing is overwhelming to watch.  Sometimes it was as if they were boxing but instead of gloves and fists they used hurtful words and slammed doors.  It is distinguished that a healthy communication line between couples is essential to not only the couples themselves but essential to the well-being of the people around them (i.e. the kids); this is why this is an ethical issue.

For many years, Ben and Kate struggled trying to heal the damage that had occurred in the relationship.  They consulted several therapists and even decided to take a trip to Europe in an attempt to rekindle the flame while the kids were away at summer camp one year.  While in Italy, the couple seemed to have found romance and each other again.  Unfortunately, they come to find that merely taking themselves out of their element and placing a beautiful backdrop in the picture is not a long term solution to deep-rooted issues.  The couple continued to have the same problems the moment they land back home.  At this point, the couple noticeably stays together just for the sake of the children.  This plugs together the next ethical issue that I was drawn to in the film.  Is it right to stay in a dysfunctional relationship for the sake of the children?  Although some argue that divorce rates are sky high now in comparison to past times, the fact is that many wed couples stay in harmful relationships because they deem it necessary for the well-being of the children.  Kate and Ben do a fit job of protecting the kids once they realize they are separating.  Both of their focuses seem to be held upon the wellness of their kids and how to best introduce the transition of divorce to them.  However, they spent many years fighting aloud in the house where the kids can hear them.  Is it morally just to believe that sticking it out is the best solution for the entire family when a relationship has turned bitterly sour?  The characters did not fully encompass the entire picture when it comes to this aspect; nevertheless, it is transparent all things considered that both parties wanted the best for the family as a whole and as individuals despite the brutal hurtful word battles that transpired.

I did not reference the end of the movie at all because it sugar coats what are very real issues within families today.  I feel the meat of the film lied within the first hour and thirty minutes of the one hour and forty minute movie.  To sum up, Ben and Kate have a brief yet emotionally intense and condensed conversation about all the reasons they should stay together.  The film ends leaving you under the assumption that they lived happily ever after together.  Years of profound issues do not get resolved with a sudden epiphany while one picks up their children from a campsite on the day they were going to announce their divorce.

Real Danger: Anti-abortionists take matters into their own hands

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/24/after_tiller_40_years_after_roe

After Tiller: 40 Years Since Roe v. Wade, Abortion Providers Continue Work of Slain Kansas Doctor

 

Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion, the new documentary “After Tiller” follows the only four doctors left in the United States who are known to provide abortions in the third trimester. In 2009, their colleague, Dr. George Tiller, was assassinated while attending church in Wichita, Kansas. The four doctors depicted in the film have also braved threats, harassment and the emotional weight of the stories they hear to provide women with a desperately needed medical procedure. We’re joined by the directors of “After Tiller,” Lana Wilson and Martha Shane. [includes rush transcript]

 

My comments:

One of Marquis’ premises of why it is immoral to abort (among the theory that doing so denies the fetus its future possibilities) is that it is wrong to kill biological humans.  Aside from the very maze-like writing style of Marquis and how he pitifully attempts to relay his message so elaborately in a hope that one will succumb to his theory by concluding that he sounds so expertly profound that there must be legitimate merit to his argument, I wonder if he realizes that people read essays such as his and similar rhetoric and feel empowered to commit such acts as the one above.  Marquis manipulates words in such a way to make an easily swayed reader feel as if the reader does not have a mind of his or her own to make up.

Why are we still discussing this issue?  Why are women of all backgrounds and specific circumstances still having to put up with OTHERS’ moral persecution?  The court’s decided this American issue in the 1970’s.  No one — well, nearly no one is discussing whether or not it was the right thing to do to free slaves or give women the right to vote.  It’s time to move on to current issues that are relevant like the corporate plutocracy in America and inequality among gays, women and minorities; not pay one more penny to legislators and politicians that waste our time and money on a legal issue that was settled decades ago.

 

The Gays Have Won

The Gays Have Won

By Bill Maher 

In 2004 and 2008, gay issues were front and center in the presidential debates: Are you for gay marriage? Are you for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Is Hillary Clinton a lesbian? You couldn’t get away from gay if you tried.

Well, we’ve now had four debates. Or, if you’re a Democrat, three and a half. And no one has mentioned gays. No one is even talking about gay issues. No one is being asked to repeat the tired line “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.” And President Obama no longer would.
Something may change, but I think it’s fair to say that the gay movement has already won. The issue has come and gone. The numbers are on the side of pro-gay and pro-gay marriage forces. Nothing has happened in states with gay marriage that anyone can point to and say, “See? We were right! Vermont got legal man-on-dog marriage now!”

In fact, it seems gays said, “We’re here, we’re queer, and most of America got used to it.”

         The author of the article, “Don’t ask don’t tell don’t call our troops homophobes” Ann Coulter has been a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher a few times.  It is frightening to realize that this woman’s advice, beliefs, values and ideals are not only spread across American but there are so many people that follow her and others alike.  One can be utterly  disturbed by the distasteful sarcasm, crude so-called humor and plainly skewed and deceptive “facts.”  It really drives home with a screeching car the reality of how drastically divided this country is when it comes to basic rights and equalities not only for Americans but for humans in general.  Religion, power, money and influence are among the elements that do not allow for social equality.  Understanding how public figures (especially politicians) use fear mongering as a main tool on their belt of suppression of the non-conservatives is essential to decipher the how, what, when, where and why some (the bible belt and right wing puppets) are disappointingly homophobic.  Coulter’s article was written in 2010 and Maher’s blog above was written in 2012; only a two year difference.  The two writer’s described in this post, which some would say are at the “extreme” opposite sides of the political continuum are each very passionate and (one is) very emotional about the topic at hand.  Fact is, don’t ask don’t tell is repealed.  The number of states legalizing marriage equality is growing every year.  Social acceptance of homosexual citizens is increasing faster than any conservative would like it to.  Conservatives will have to put this ethical issue to rest… because it is the ethical thing to do!