May 4, 2005

Censorship Part I: What Is Wrong With It

There’s an old saying that you never know what you’ve lost until it’s finally gone. Of course, in some cases, when it’s gone, it’s gone permanently, and no amount of work will get it back. Freedom of speech is one of those cases, as censorship is slowly encroaching in on our right to say anything we want at anytime that we want. We do not want to lose our freedom of speech to those who wish to censor the media, especially since losing the freedom of speech will lead to a loss of America.

Freedom of speech was the very first right given to anyone living within America. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the first amendment, which states that, “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.” This amendment guarantees three things. Firstly, Congress can never establish a state religion and must give the people the right to choose religion. Secondly, Congress can never take away your right to say whatever you want. Finally, it guarantees your right to protest. This is the first and most fundamental law provided by our constitution to the people, and it prevents us from falling apart into a dictatorship.

The first and easily made step to a dictatorship is by limiting the freedom of speech. Slowly, as the people lose the power to complain against the government, they lose the power to oppose the government. So of course, to keep our current system of government, we need free speech. If it just so happens that people to want America to turn into another Nazi Germany, then by all means, restrict free speech for all anyone cares. Just don’t come complaining to those people for free speech when it’s gone. Oddly enough, the government is not the biggest concern when it comes to censorship, the greatest enemy of free speech.

No matter how much the press happens to dislike free speech, they need it. Surprisingly, it’s the media who wishes to censor what’s said on the air, not the government. But by censoring themselves, they are restricting free speech. The first effect of this is that they will look biased and bland, detracting from their viewer base. The second effect will be that it sets a precedent for other forces to take away our freedom of speech.

Censorship has never been beneficial to a democratic system of government. In fact, the only time that censorship has greatly benefited a government has been in the cases of a non-democratic one. These governments have traditionally used censorship to oppress their people. Allowing the media to censor unpopular views is just as bad. People rely on the news mainly as a source of information. Censorship will in the end lead to biased news, fueling disunity among Americans. Even the tiniest step, from driving Howard Stern to XM Radio, will lead to a society where the news isn’t news anymore, it’s just a political tool used by both sides to further their own agenda. No progress will ever be made within our government. At this point and time, censorship will have gone too far.

Oh wait; it’s already like that, isn’t it?

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