Is the importance of censorship overrated today?

 

While I agree that censorship is somewhat necessary in our world to shield graphic content from our unready young, I do feel that it’s important in our world today but is overrated and somewhat unnecessary in some cases. We see censorship in mass media, mostly visual content streaming from the television or the internet. Sexual and vulgar content is especially censored from the public in Singapore. I don’t have much of a problem with that, however I feel that there are better ways for the government and relevant authorities to control the mass media in the country.

“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all – except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy (American 35th US President (1961-63), 1917-1963)

Putting aside the pity that such a great man died in his early adulthood, in this quote John F. Kennedy highlights that the use of censorship will lead to the decline of the nation. This is true. The censor of some content, especially worldly affairs and will eventually create narrow-minded citizens. Some countries filter their media so much that almost anything they deem detrimental to society can be totally blocked from citizens. When the country’s leaders keep their fellow people ‘clean’ from ‘poisonous’ material, the consequential product is a community of complacent, ignorant citizens. The facade of well-being of the world is maintained through censorship, and the people become less and less aware and more complacent. The country as a whole becomes more vulnerable to attacks. In short, some censors will impact community thinking.

However, censorship has proven itself useful in many cases. For example, some sexual or violent scenes can be censored in films so as to protect young viewers from content that they are not ready for. Our youngsters should know how to handle such graphic material before viewing them. It is repeatedly warned that programs and games with violent content came lead to aggression and violence in teenagers. But if these people could tell the difference between reality and virtuality, right from wrong, then there is no problem if they access such materials. It is known widely across the globe that Japan is one of the most sexually open countries in the world. They can broadcast erotic content on television widely, as well as on magazines and manga. However, contradicting the experts’ stance, Japan has one of the most sexually responsible citizens in the world. Japan’s media do use censors, but instead of people going for the forbidden fruit, they are able to learn about such things with discipline. This is the joint product of proper control of censors and education. Censors work only to a certain extent, but it is somewhat necessary nevertheless.

When our authorities block sexual content, some turn to pornography for information about the opposite sex(normally). They receive their information in that form as a substitute, because the Government has shielded and blocked any proper source of such information. They are hard to find in any other case. Love is rarely portrayed in a genuine way, and is mostly absent in shows for children because they are not ready.

Our mass media is a reflection of the state of our society. If we blame the media for having content that corrupts peoples’ minds, it is like blaming a polluted river for being polluted instead of it’s pollutants provided by humanity. If we don’t demand better from our producers, what we get is media deserving of censors; we get visual products we cannot be proud of. While censors have done much and is somewhat necessary, it is a shortcut approach. Instead of using so much censors, would it be better if we can get our media to produce more that we can be proud of as society.

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