Censorship is defined as the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect, or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities, or other groups or institutions.
In general, I’m against it.
I was thinking about censorship last weekend when I saw the movie, ‘Straight Outta Compton.’ One of the story lines in the movie is about how the government and law enforcement tried to suppress NWA’s songs or messages they found objectionable.
To be fair, you could probably make a good case for censoring some of NWA’s messages. You might argue it is harmful to have a generation of young people rallying to the cry of “Fuck tha Police!”
Censorship doesn’t always come from a bad place. But here is the problem with censorship: At some level, people’s speech and communication reflect something about their reality. In the case of NWA, their message reflected anger about unfair treatment by the police toward African Americans. You can try to censor this kind of communication, but it doesn’t really work in the long run, because censorship doesn’t honor the reality of the situation. People are going to express their reality, one way or another.
In my view, censorship happens because we experience a lot of anxiety about discussing and dealing with uncomfortable ideas. It’s difficult to be open about topics like sexuality, violence, injustice, poverty, pornography, abuse, and the like. But people always express their reality. We can either make a commitment to discuss these issues openly, or deal with the consequences as people bust through censorship and have their messages come out sideways.
Discussion: What do you think of censorship? Are there certain times when censorship is good or necessary? How can we move toward having open discussions, even about topics that are uncomfortable or make us anxious?