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Should censorship be sometimes justified - Essay Example

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(Subject) Should Censorship be Sometimes Justified? The question of censorship – the control of information and ideas by the government or its agencies - has vexed generations of Americans since the founding of the United States…
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Should censorship be sometimes justified

Download file to see previous pages... The government must have powers to censor sensitive security information, such as the military strategy, deployment of forces, and placement of key weapons systems in times of conflicts and wars. Some people, mainly libertarians who see little or no role for government, argue that the United States has no room for censorship citing the First Amendment to the US Constitution that prohibits restrictions, among other things, on the freedom of speech and the press. However, protecting the United States and American people becomes more important than preserving the freedom of speech in times of conflicts and wars, because giving away sensitive security information could help domestic quislings and external enemies to harm the country and hurt the people. Recognizing this imperative, Congress has enacted several laws, including the Smith Act, Communist Control Act and Atomic Energy Act, which give the US government the powers to impose censorship. Even the criticism of the government’s recent request to withhold the details of the experiment that produced deadly H5N1 influenza virus, which could be used by terrorist, has been made only on a narrow ground that someone had already shared that information at a conference in Malta (Markel). Censorship also becomes necessary to prevent hate speech that destroys social harmony and leads to violence in a country characterized by enormous racial and cultural diversity. Opponents of censorship argue that individuals can make their own judgment and apply self-censorship, and US courts have sometimes put the freedom of speech above the need to control hate speech, such as by upholding the right of the Ku Klux Klan to carry out anti-minority marches. However, personal judgment and self-censorship alone are not enough to prevent hate speech that could disrupt communal harmony and lead people to harm each other due to enmity, bigotry or other narrow interests. The rant against Muslims in public places and in the media in the wake of terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001 led to violence against Muslims and turbaned Sikhs across the country, which could have been avoided by censorship. Although Congress has already outlawed slander, libel, incitement to riot and obscenity, government should have broad censorship powers to control hate speech and promote social harmony (Stork), a proposition with which I agree. Likewise, the government must have powers to impose censorship to protect the rights, dignity and innocence of children who cannot do it themselves. Those who advocate absolute freedom of speech hold the view that individuals and the media are capable of using their discretion to withhold indecent and obscene information that could harm children. However, there is no shortage of pedophiles, rapists, rogue journalists and other criminals eager to exploit children’s vulnerability and innocence, and the government has obligation to protect children from them, if necessary, by imposing censorship. I shudder with the fear that my own brothers, sisters and relatives could become victims of such criminals, lured by indecency and obscenity in the media and public places. Recognizing the need for censorship to protect children, Congress has made several laws, including the Communications Decency Act of 1966, that classify films ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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