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My Views on Censorship by Cynthia Aung (Issue #3)

Censorship is when a government or higher authority suppresses parts of books, films, articles, posts and more. Censorship occurs for many different reasons, but primarily for national security. Whether you realize it or not, you probably have seen examples, including Donald Trump's ban on multiple social media platforms, and platforms such as Facebook mass deleting accounts advertising conspiration against the government.

Not only have social media platforms banned Donald Trump, but they have gone as far as censoring the Donald Trump administration. Although these are just a few main representations of censorship, the influence that these platforms have is larger than you might think. The internet had once followed the saying, ‘if you don’t like it, don’t look’ - Lon Safko. Presently, social media has heightened the protection policies, to increase the safety of their users. However, the power of censorship can be easily abused and used to one's advantage, even if it can protect citizens from being exposed to danger and violence. One advantage of censorship, is that it can prevent instances of harm to communities. An incident of censorship in Malaysia back in 2017, left a mark for the LGBTQIA+ community. Malaysia, like most Asian countries, has conservative and religious laws, prohibiting queer encounters. A 3-second scene in Beauty and the Beast involving two men dancing caused the country's Film Censorship board to attempt a ban. Nevertheless, Walt Disney disagreed on editing out a three second clip, just for Malaysia's censorship laws against gay men. Aside from Malaysia, Russia also prohibits self-expression, and they were not comfortable with this scene either. “blatant, shameless propaganda of sin.” - Russian lawmaker. Since Disney did not edit the scene out, this movie is now rated pg-13.

Democracy diverts from dictatorship. Democracy lets citizens have the privilege of equality and free speech. So, is it hypocritical that some democratic countries have yet to ban censorship? Answers will differ depending on who you ask, but in my opinion, censorship is only needed to an extent. Democracy aims to provide the citizens with the power to choose their representatives and other daily life elements. An authentic democratic government aims to provide the full truth. Censorship takes away the truth from the public and limits the speech of the citizens. Freedom of speech and expression is important for a democracy. Without it, you are letting the government take power away from you and your individuality. A democrat citizen should be able to choose the types of media that they want to surround themselves with. If they don’t like what they see or are disturbed, they should be able to choose to stop taking in that form of media. Access to media should not be banned for those needing access to it.

“No writing, nor any other statement, should ever be censored, no matter how vile it is. Indeed, if it is vile, then it needs to be exposed, not hidden; because, if it is hidden, then it will fester until it grows in the dark and finally becomes sprung upon a public who have never been inoculated against it by truth, and therefore the false belief becomes actually seriously dangerous and likely to spread like wildfire, because it had been censored before it became public. The most deadly infections are those that grow in the dark and then become released upon a population who have no pre-existing protection against it.”

- Eric Zuesse, Strategic Culture, a fellow online historian who believes that an authentic Democratic government should not censor any form of media.

Previously, I have given examples of censorship in social media and government. Just the same, censorship also affects your education, especially in the arts. More-often to censorship, sexual speech has been silenced, and sometimes considered "perverted" or an insult. Yet, following that moral, shouldn't entertainment channels and films with the 18+ rating also be banned? Significant works of literature that shaped history have also fallen victim to censorship. Maya Angelou’s book ‘I know why the caged bird sings’ which discusses racism and trauma of a young woman’s coming of age story has been heavily censored and banned from most schools due to sexual content. There are no apparent connections to violence, sexual expression and education, but yet, artworks and pieces are being censored left to right. If censorship is to ban ‘indecent’ and ‘offensive’ media, why are notable works of education being taken away from school children?
Many comics, books and online media have been beguiled to censorship due to "violent depictions" when proof that fictional violence can initiate real violence to a person is conflicting.

Poland’s government and lawmakers created a law banning sex education in schools after stating that sex educaters were those who “groom and familiarise children with homosexuality”.(5) Since Poland, known to be a very conservative and Catholic country. The World Health Organization had approved for Poland’s restrictions with sex education. Viewing both perspectives, this form of censorship is used to protect Catholics from the "pedophilia", but with repercussions, as Poland kids are unable to be well-educated in sexual orientation and gender identity. In my opinion, I believe that censoring sex eduation is not beneficial to any party as this will only increase unsafe sex in young adults. Although I agree with the need to censor graphic media, I wonder if education teaching us about our bodies, safety, and history truly needs to be censored?

I will now leave it to you to decide whether censorship is harmful or beneficial. This is a situation where both sides can be argued.

This post was edited by Ginny Chan.

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