Open Thread: Censorship
Hopefully by now you’ve started brainstorming potential ideas for your entry in the 2012 Brave Little Blogger Contest.
Hopefully by now the wheels are turning, and you’re asking yourself some questions about censorship—how it happens, why it happens, when it happens, and who supports it.
Certainly, current events like the January 18 SOPA protest remind us that threats of censorship can be disguised in how messages are framed. Name a piece of legislation the “Stop Online Piracy Act” for instance, and you can pretty much sit back and watch the nation nod it’s head in agreement.
For a while anyway.
Theft. Piracy. These are bad things, right? It wasn’t until some people actually read and discussed the meat of the bill that citizens and companies got nervous and said, “Hey, wait a minute! You RIAA butt-kissers in Washington need to know something.”
But history teaches us that censorship is also about bigger issues than whether or not some media mogul gets his cut of the profit for the latest, greatest pop hit. Sometimes censorship comes with promises of protection. Sometimes censorship is deemed necessary to maintain national security.
And sometimes censorship is clearly and unabashedly about nothing more than a person’s desire for absolute control.
Censorship is a pretty broad topic. So I want to give you an idea of where you may choose to go with your contest entry. If you’re having any trouble at all with the writing contest’s theme, might I suggest digging into some of these articles on the topic? When you’re done, come back and talk to your fellow contestants about the ideas presented. This comment thread is your open thread for idea bouncing and brain picking. Use. It.
- Censorship: It’s World War II. The Office of Censorship is created by the President, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is reprimanded by the U.S. government for describing the weather on a recent trip. Byron Price heads the department and supports the idea of a self-censoring media. He and his department ask Americans to ask one question before printing anything, ‘Is this information I would to like to have if I were the enemy?’
- Blogging and Self-Censorship: A good read for any blogger who has ever avoided a controversial subject, relegated a piece to the draft folder because it might hurt someone close to them, or taken down a previously published post for any reason. Can self-censorship be a good thing? Can it be noble?
- Censorship and Fiction: How do you get a bibliophobic teen to pick up a literary classic? Tell her she can’t read it. Ban that mofo. Next thing you know she’ll be scouring the ALA’s Banned Books Week reading list.
My Personal Views on Censorship
I’m pretty much against any authority figure or government body telling another person what she can or cannot say. Now, that said, sometimes I follow censorship orders anyway (like when I didn’t say the word ‘fart’ for the first 15 years of my life simply because my mom didn’t like it).
But Emily if you think no one should be censored, does that mean you think Rush Limbaugh should bring back his Slut Schtick™?
No. Because I’m fine with self-censorship, and I’m fine with there being social (not criminal) repercussions for the dumb shit we choose to say out loud. I’m in favor of speed bumps between the brain and the mouth. I’m in favor of accountability, especially when you attack a private citizen.
I would never say to Limbaugh, “You can’t say that!” Of course he can. He did. BUT, the reality is that he can’t say it without consequence. Just like I couldn’t say ‘fart’ at the age of 8 without sucking a bar of Dial.
My thoughts on this are complex, but I’m trying to keep this post under 750 words! So I’m going to address one more thing and then open this up for discussion:
I don’t want you to worry about whether or not I will like your contest entry. People who disagree with me can still win the contest. I’m hosting the contest; I’m not judging your entries. Please, write whatever you want. Just write it well. Capisce?
Open Thread Question:
What are your thoughts on censorship?