Essay on Censorship of Book and Media

Censorship of books and other media is a necessary and often sorely needed tool that is entirely needed to control harmful thoughts and actions that many people are unfairly reluctant to use.

When discussing censorship, many tempers usually flare, and for good reason. It’s a touchy subject, and it requires a good deal of nuance and depth when discussing it. But without the three types of censorship, that being: self-censorship, Corporate censorship, or government-imposed censorship, we would all be left in a much worse situation. Censorship has been absolutely vital for almost all written communication for the past few millennium. In ancient China censorship particularly of books and written materials was a necessity for proper order and stability in the government, as Britannica writes about Ancient China “Long-established teachings were relied upon for shaping character. All in all, it was contrary to Chinese good taste to speak openly of the faults of one’s government or of one’s rulers.” China’s relative stability and prosperity for centuries was built off the back of a culture built by censored materials, this continues to this day, and a stable authoritarian government continues to reign, thanks to their traditional censorship. Chinese culture has been built off the back of censorship and it is what allows them to prosper to this day.

Censorship takes 3 forms, Government, self, and private institution or corporate. Self-censorship is the most common, and it simply involves an individual making decisions about their works to make it more appealing. Corporate is when a private institution regulates and industry to appease outside entities. Government is the heaviest handed and most criticized version of Censorship and involves the state itself in regulating and sometimes banning works they don’t agree with. Looking at the modern United States of America today, we can see dozens of examples of all types on censorship, and how needed they all are. In the government sector we have regulation of what some consider to be “art” Banning of Child Pornography is an example of modern-day censorship in western democracies, yet we do not see widespread protests in favor of revoking this law. Campaigns to publicize and raise awareness that not all censorship is harmful is sorely needed in order to prevent misinformed individuals from forming incomplete opinions of topics they do not truly understand. As is written by the author “Not all forms of speech are entitled to equal protection under US law. Authorities must provide a compelling reason to limit or censor someone's speech” (Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context) US authorities are already allowed to censor harmful speech, and it is wildly used in all walks of life, everywhere you look you will see a version of censorship. From copyright law to defamation laws limits of free speech exist and are universal across the globe, social norms and unwritten rules of society also limit what otherwise may be free speech.

Some may make the argument that free speech is something to be protected, and that books fall under the protection of free speech. In fact, famous American writer Mark Twain writes “Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it” Furthermore Francesca DiVincenzo writes “But when you ban a book just because you are not comfortable, you cause damage because you're not only ruining it for your child; you're ruining it for everyone else.” This makes for a powerful, although unsubstantiated argument. It has been shown time and time again that common people cannot be trusted to make judgements on their own with their personal research. We can see this result of this modern day with the widespread acceptance of Fascist ideologies, flat earth anti-intellectual theories, and refusal to use vaccinations to prevent horrific diseases. The list goes on, and yet when “fact checking” is used, many refuse to listen to reason, but this is not a exclusively modern day problem in fact it goes back to the times of antiquity, Ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote numerous pro-censorship ideas into his book. George Anastaplo sums it up as “[The Republic] Reflects the belief that the vital opinions of the community could be shaped by law and that men could be penalized for saying things that offended public sensibilities, undermined common morality, or subverted the institutions of the community.” Even the most of ancient of thinkers realized that the masses could not be trusted to think for themselves, book censorship has been branded as a tool for evil when it could be a benevolent source of good for all. 

In conclusion censorship of all literature, along with the banning and elimination of problem books must be implemented to prevent the further slippage of our collective conciseness and promotion of justice. Think of the good that could be done if a strong central apolitical force oversaw all literary publishing in the United States with the power to remove blatantly bigoted, and baseless drivel that is all too common nowadays. There is no such thing as truly free speech anywhere on earth, and while nearly every other form of mass media is regulated strictly by the government, literature has been granted special status, this must be revoked, if it must be seen by the masses, it must go through a censor. Justice for all starts with the change of its perception via recreational media, and this starts with books.