Censorship

Alright this isn’t about food. Beverages will be tomorrow, pending beer review (that’s a pun).

“Censorship Sucks  is very nice.”

If you haven’t noticed, I am a strong supporter of free speech. I prefer to never censor anyone’s point of view or expression thereof, how else can I hope to know what is going on? There are times when certain language is inappropriate, or doesn’t fit the discussion, and at such times I will step in and point out why it is inappropriate, and were it to be over the top I might delete it, I’ve never had too but I’m aware that decision will have to be made one day. I would rather follow the advice of Abraham Lincoln, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” and let others prove their intellect.

A number of things centering on the same topic came to me in the last day, so instead of writing about wines and beers or telling you about my new job at an organic farm, I’ll be making some points about censorship today.

My interest in censorship began at an appearance by Barry Hoffman, founder of Gauntlet magazine, at a Barnes and Nobles. Barry was speaking about censorship, and how his publications were protesting against it. Gauntlet discusses and reprints articles that have been censored in various publications, and by doing so has been censored (in the form of being banned) in a variety of markets. He brought up a statement by Larry Flynt, “Freedom of speech doesn’t protect speech you like; it protects speech you don’t like”.

I spend time and money supporting speech, some of which I don’t like, and some I have grown to like. Some of the artists I enjoy, I was originally interested in because they had been censored. Eminem and Everlast come to mind, two “rappers” with incredible messages and unique talents in word crafting. It was hard to follow their rap with words cut out on MTV, so I bought their albums. Salmam Rushdie, on the other hand, was given the opportunity to prove to me what a boring writer he is. You never know unless you investigate the subject yourself.

The other day, President Obama gave the commencement address to the graduating students of Ohio State University. In it, he instructed these apparently bright young university graduates, the leaders of tomorrow to not listen to voices that warn about government tyranny. I don’t care what your views are, the immediate image was “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. What kind of leader tells people to not listen to other points of view?

This morning, a friend who writes and edits Planet Princeton, an online news source focused on Princeton New Jersey, mentioned that the town is no longer indexing Planet Princeton on their website, using other sources for community news. Could this be because Planet Princeton remains independent, reporting from a neutral point of view, not just repeating anyone’s personal agenda? Yes. Recently a series of articles were criticized as being “negative”. Being “censored” in this fashion is a two edged sword. It is a badge of honor for a journalist to be singled out as reporting the inconvenient truth, but the loss in readership hurts. I’m thinking of putting together a QR code and pasting it on everything in town, starting with the police vehicles (Note to Princeton Police Department, my fingerprints are on record, have proof before you knock on my door).

People can be oversensitive to censorship, but again, their voice is telling something. A complaint means to listen more closely, sometimes it’s a valid point. A few weeks ago a friend posted something and I asked if she had vetted her source. Her angry response was “don’t censor me”. The subject involved was very close to her heart, and she is not a journalist, so I may have needed to use a gentler approach. I don’t view questions as censorship, but a sensitive person may.

Censorship can have many forms, from blacking out text to banning a book to eliminating the author. Censorship can take the form of simply not carrying a product, as Walmart has done with music, or as in the case of Princeton not indexing a particular source. Censorship can be seen as the choices of news directors, what gets covered and what doesn’t. Censorship can be the process of alienating an activity, as was successfully done with smokers, to reduce their acceptance. Censorship can take the form of obfuscation, or of vilifying individuals with alternate points of view. This practice is insidious, and growing. From what I’ve seen lately as debating tactics, the last few have become popular. It’s one of the reasons I wrote this article. When discussing if a particular tactic was censorship, one argument was that since the publisher had not been shut down, he wasn’t being censored.

Don’t buy it. In any form, Censorship really does Suck.

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6 comments on “Censorship

  1. I had the most powerful experience referencing censorship when I was a child- it went something like this: I was raised in a upwardly mobile all white community- no messes anywhere (if ya know what I mean). We had an excellent school system with many of the classics read to us and put on reading lists. We had a one-screen movie theatre that showed one movie for one week. We were allowed to bike anywhere we wanted and the dogs ran unleashed. Nothing was off limits- which was why when walking past our local bookstore one day I stopped and starred… they had done a window display with MANY books that had been banned, or censored, at one time or another. I was SHOCKED. It had never occurred to me that this could be done- and the books that had been censored where the very ones that we had (or were) reading in school. It was that day that I became very aware of the Constitution, my school, and my parents bookshelf. Nothing was off limits- and still shouldn’t be. And… thanks you for the passing along the award. I accept.

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  2. Social Media change this dynamic considerably and I think the flowering of creative opinion and discussion it engenders has much opportunity laden within it, just so long as we don’t form insular media bubbles, seek out differences, and, in words, be willing to be challenging, if even a bit threatening and/or snarky.

    This change is not so much the removal of censorship but rather an expansion of the marketplace of free ideas – the result of this though may well be much more earth shattering than the censorship of any single revolutionary point of view. This is something I’m attempting to keep an ‘eye’ upon.

    BTW, Mom’s side is from Raritan Township – though all are now moved on or deceased. Central New Jersey is a great place.

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  3. Mari Collier says:

    I enjoyed this one. I’m surprised that you were caught off guard by our President’s message. That has been the Liberal thought or preference for years. They do not wish to hear another’s opinion. It isn’t theirs, therefore it is invalid. You cannot imagine the hateful responses such a statement can generate. I’m always surprised, however, what certain people consider censorship. Banning books is censorship, but having a dissenting opinion is not. Yet, people will accuse those of different opinions of censorship. Yes, I read both sides of an opinion even while holding onto my own.

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  4. p2000 says:

    Thanks for publicing this awesome information. Keep up the good work. I’ll subscribe to your blog also. thanks!

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    • KBC – this is likely spam, as is the message previous. I’ve published a few of these where the links and comments were innocuous and ironically humorous – which only seemed to increase the traffic – but that may happen over time anyway. I’d guess WP.Com has spam filters, and some sort of ‘captcha’ for comments.

      -A fellow blogger

      Mine is MotleyTools.com/blog and I’m five years into it – currently in hiatus as I redesign into a hosted WP under the name ‘WesternOutsider.us. The final home page, with 10 articles, is a good one, though some of the earlier writing could use a revision as it was a restart of my intellectual life after a 15 year break.

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