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Prerana Kiran

Honors English 9
26 September 2014
Censorship and the Media
You live in the former Soviet Union. You yearn for free speech and equal
access to the media, rather than the constant fake news reports that are always
praising the government. Keeping you from your dream is extreme censorship, or
the omitting of several content in the media for various reasons. Although this may
come of as a dystopian policy to some people, it may become a reality in America.
How can the country keep its faithful citizens from viewing parts of the media?
The answer is, it cannot. The censorship of entertainment and informational media
in certain instances is unnecessary for the welfare of the people and violates the
first amendment of freedom of the press, as well as freedom of speech and public
expression, and it inhibits peoples access to visual media.
1st Contention
Censorship, no matter what instance it is used in, is against the first amendment.
The first amendment itself clearly states the basic freedoms of American society:
freedom of speech, the press, and expression. These freedoms are directly violated

if censorship of the media occurs. According to ala.org, the first amendment


specifies, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the
press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances (ala.org). In addition, censorship
represents fear of society its voice. Therefore, censorship is too much like the
Salem Witch Trials, in which women were burned for fear that they were witches.
As Supreme Court justice said, Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the
function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears (ala.org).
Therefore, it is unjustifiable to censor the media for fear of the peoples opinions.
While critics may say that censorship can be healthy in that it omits only part of
the media, it still gives power to the government over the people, and this power
can be easily misused. In addition, people cannot be denied their constitutional
rights, thus they must have equal access to the media. This also displays a mistrust
against the common people and inspires ignorance. While censorship in the present
is against the law, it has also failed in the past.
History shows that censorship of the media in the past has not worked. The
American government itself lost credibility in the past due to this issue. For
example, the Sedition Act was signed into law in 1798 under the leadership of
President John Adams. These acts were primarily the result of the growing

unpopularity of the Federalist Party in the past. Although this action was carried
out to prevent the loss of supporters in the next election, the federalists plan
backfired. According to the act, criticizing the government in any manner, no
matter how severe, was considered illegal and punishable by law. This led to chaos
in society, and many innocent citizens, including people from the press, were fined
and thrown in jail for mildly ostracizing the government and its policies.
Ultimately, unpopularity of this law and hate led to the dissolution of the federalist
part and the victory of the Democratic-Republican Party in the election of 1800. If
we do not heed the warning of the past and still implement censorship, the results
will be even more disastrous in todays technological age with rapid
communications. Critics may contradict that it is adamant to ostracize the law.
However, this is against the very democratic principles that formed the foundation
of this country, that the government cannot mute the voice of the people. In
addition to failing in the past, censorship can prevent ordinary readers from reading
many books.
Nearly everyone in the country reads books. However, the idea of censorship
has challenged thousands of neutral books and movies, many of them aimed
towards children, as according to the American Library Association (ala.org). If
Harry Potter, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Captain Underpants are among
the list of books to be censored, then most of the population today, would not read

at all. These books have been read by millions of people worldwide, and there is no
hint along the lines of encouraging terrorism or endangering national security.
When America is supporting other Middle Eastern countries to fight for their
human rights, how can it oppress literary works? Without the spread of literature in
the 1700s, the country itself would not have existed. Critics cannot ridicule the
spread of knowledge and the magical world of literature. Without books or
knowledge, the common man will become ignorant to the world, and ignorance
breeds evil. Besides suppressing books, censorship fails to protect children.
Censorship does not necessarily protect children from obscene content for a
few reasons. First of all, obscene content takes seconds to be posted on the internet.
However, censorship takes significantly longer, and by the time it is omitted,
millions of people will have viewed it, rendering the entire process useless.
Secondly, children can be protected from the inappropriate content on the
television and the internet through parental controls. Critics may say that parents
must constantly be on the lookout to scan the media for appropriateness. However,
mpaa ratings and parental discretion advisories help parents in filtering media not
appropriate for young children. Therefore, there is no reason to keep certain people
from watching violent media to protect the few.
Censorship of the media is not necessary for the welfare of the people
because it is against the first amendment, has failed in the past, suppresses

literature, and does not prevent children from viewing obscene content in the least.
Rather, it collides with basic human rights and thus should not exist in America.
Critics may argue that it helps protect national security, but government sensitive
data is not on the media and therefore is not a subject of censorship. If we resort to
censoring, our society will be no different from communist and we will violate our
major freedoms that make America unique. This issue of censorship is significant
to every aspect of life because it limits our knowledge, and knowledge is power, so
censorship contributes to mistrust of the people and gives the government more
power over its citizens.