Censorship: Good or Bad?
Something that’s interested me a lot recently is censorship. I’ve been mainly opposed to it. I think that’s because I’ve been brought up in a wealthy and greatly developed country where I’m lucky enough to have access to a lot more human rights than many around the world, and so I’ve grown up with the notion that I have a right to knowledge, and a right to know the truth. It’s an interesting subject because so many different people have different opinions on it, and it’s also a really influential factor in how our world is. There’s censorship everywhere, and in all countries to some extent, but at times it’s really difficult to decided whether that’s beneficial to us or not.
There are of course situations where it is widely agreed that censorship is acceptable, and positive. For example the censorship ratings of films helps to protect younger people and children from watching things that may be unsuitable or deemed too graphic for them to see. This sort of censorship doesn’t really have widely negative consequences or cause massive debate.
Another area of censorship which is considered by some a wholly positive thing is censorship on the internet against things that viewers may find disturbing or unsuitable; similarly to film ratings. I personally think that this type of censorship is a good thing, as long as the power is in the hands of the person paying for/using the internet. I feel like parents, for example, should be given the option to block sites containing graphic imagery, offensive content, or harmful content (such as pro ana websites) from their children, or even just from themselves. In my opinion however this type of censorship becomes dangerous when it is solely the government’s choice to block this content from a country’s citizens.
A lot of censorship however is deemed, at least by many in western countries who have had the privilege of living with little censorship, as a negative thing. It is seen to take away freedom, and take away knowledge. It seems unfair that there are people who can pick and choose what things certain country’s populations have access to. The Freedom of the Press report carried out yearly by a non-governmental organisation in the US showed that, in 2013, just over 30% of countries in the world did not have freedom in the press. That’s a lot of countries being fed information daily and continuously around them which is biased and has been manipulated.
Censorship at its most extreme also easily allows certain individuals to keep an imbalance of power. For example in North Korea, widely considered one of the most censored countries in the world. Censorship is at such a level that there isn’t really any way to get away from government propaganda. With ‘normal’ citizens of the country not granted access to the internet, and those given access only able to connect with small parts of the internet which have been considered suitable and are chosen and controlled carefully, it’s impossible to say this sort of censorship isn’t a violation of people’s right to freedom.
There’s not really a right or wrong when it comes to the close cut issues, such as internet censorship, which got me thinking about this subject. There are lots of valid arguments for and against censorship, and I just thought I’d share a few of my thoughts on the subject.