This Censored World

Friday, December 02, 2005

Follow Your Heart

We all remember Janet Jackson’s breast making its appearance in the infamous Super Bowl half time show right? And I’m sure we all remember hearing the amount of complaints received by the FCC afterward right? Well what may shock you to know is that, according to The Observer Online, 98% of the complaints came from one organization – the Parents Television Council. This one small group of people decided they knew what was best for everyone. Robert Jordan, the protagonist in Ernest Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (amazing book by the way) once said something to the extent of, a bigot is someone who is absolutely sure they are right.

Say it aloud with me. A bigot is someone who is absolutely sure they are right. The definition of bigot is: “One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.” Ask yourself, do you really want to be a bigot? Now ask yourself how have you been a bigot and who else is a bigot?

Censorship exists for many reasons, for example it could be a totalitarian governments attempting to keep the masses down, or as if often times the case, a group of people who believe their values are the one only right values. Do you want a group of people deciding for you what is right or wrong?

Sure there are certain things that almost everyone agrees are wrong: murder, rape, stealing etc. However there are many more things that slide into a grey area. It is this grey area that is constantly being fought over. People from all sides are trying to claim this area as their own, to make their values the one true system of values. I

n the end there may be one set of values and if there is I may very well be sorry but until I find out, I will follow my heart and I suggest you follow your heart too.

Freedom, War, Censorship, Republicans, Liberals, Christians,-- and Ball State University

According to the online Ball State News page, four 4 out of 10 Americans believe that music should be censored. What an alarming statistic. Music is a form of expression and freedom of expression is protected by the first amendment.

I may be jumping to conclusions here but it seems to me that the same people who are sending men and women to war to ensure "Iraqi freedom" are the same people who are taking away our freedom at home. Conservative Christians, a strong part of the republican base are also the people who are trying to censor music.

Ball State had a discussion in October entitled “Exploring Freedom of Expression Through Music.” The discussion focused on the censorship of questionable lyrics in popular music. Some of the examples used were "Two years ago, radio stations in San Antonio, Texas, pulled the song “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw because it implied abortion," and "After Sept. 11, Wal-Mart stopped selling songs it thought were non-patriotic. Clear Channel media company also issued a list of songs they considered offensive, such as AC/DC’s “Safe in New York.”

So many people are saying that the liberals "hate freedom" and this is why they are opposed to the war in Iraq. But it is the liberals that do their most to keep America's freedoms safe. It is the liberals who truly believe in freedom, freedom not as a slogan or catch phrase of propaganda but an active verb form of freedom. A freedom that means you can go make a record about abortion or criticizing whoever the hell you want.

Bombs and Censorship

Recently there have been accusations that the Bush administration considered bombing the headquarters of the Arab news channel al-Jazeera in April 2004. The accusations reportedly arise from what is contained in the “Downing Street Memo.” Supposedly British Prime Minister Tony Blair talked President Bush out of the bombing plan.

The Bush administration has no love for al-Jazeera. The Arab news network is often extremely critical of the President Bush as well as the war in Iraq. Is it possible that the president was actually considering bombing innocent civilians? Sadly, I think it is entirely possible. What better way to silence some of your strongest critics then to vaporize them, the ultimate form of censorship.

If you want some evidence ask yourself why the British Government invoked the Offical Secrets Act and has made it illegal for anyone to publish the "Downing Street Memo."

The Kinsey Report and the IUSB Preface

Recently a High School newspaper in Tennessee published an article about birth control. I believe that the article was explaining how to use and the importance of birth control. So some people, as some people tend to do, have a fit and demanded it be retracted from the paper. This incident reminds me of IUSB’s newspaper “The Preface."

“The Preface” has a new weekly article it prints called The Kinsey Report, named after sex researcher Albert Kinsey. The Kinsey Report uses a question answer format where an individual writes the Kinsey Institute and asks a sexual question. The Kinsey Institute then responds, answering the questions and both the question and answer are published in the paper.

Since the first publication of the Kinsey Report in the IUSB paper there has been much demand for its retraction. People site both moral and religious grounds for their demand that the article be abolished. However sex education is an important subject and there should be a medium for those who have questions. Isn’t it more responsible and mature to ask questions about sexuality then to simply ignore it like a dirty sock in your closet?

Monday, November 21, 2005

When is Censorship Appropritate?

I recently wrote a post about two blogger’s in France being arrested. I thought their arrest was unwarranted. Keith and Cormac, however, held a slightly different opinion. Keith believes that the blog content is the key question when considering the legality of the blog and whether or not the blogger’s should be arrested; while Cormac says it depends on how prominent the blogger’s are.

The most difficult part of censorship is deciding what deserves to be censored. The criterion is also the cause of the controversy that surrounds so many censored things. Often times there are no solid law set by the government but only raised voices by a minority of people. In certain places such as the Bible belt the popular view is not a secular one and when that non-secular view encroaches upon a classroom that is where some problems come from. Other problems arise when people get in legal trouble for unclear laws. For example read my post about Chinese Censorship.

If there is to be government supported censorship there should be set solid laws. They should be as strenuously debated as other laws. However, can a set of laws cover all types of censorship in all its forms? I find that very unlikely

Burn a Book Burn a Dream

There are no gains in book banning. Even if a book has negative or controversial content don’t ban or burn it but teach it. Many great works of literature have been banned or faced criticism at one time or another. Often the critics of works such as Catcher in the Rye or The Grapes of Wrath have never even read the book, let alone discussed the themes. What the critics often don't realize is that there is an opportunity for education in even the most vile and debase book.

Things to think about while reading a book you don’t agree with.
1. Try to understand why the author is saying things you don’t agree with.a. Is it ignorance, prejudice, societies fault, etc?
2. Why don’t you agree with what is said?
3. Is the author really saying what you think or could they be illustrating a side of society that is often ignored or shunned, and if so for what point? An example of this is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Twain makes open use of the word nigger and many people have been outraged by it however, Twain was not a racist. Instead the noblest character in the book is Jim and African American Slave.
4. Are you approaching the work with an open mind? Can you honestly say you have no bias against the work you are complaining about?
5. Could the work be of quality to other people, nationality, race, class etc, and if so why?

These are just some of the questions you should consider when reading any literature but especially when reading a piece of literature you don’t agree with. Asking these questions provide you with an opportunity for personal growth whether or not, in the end, you decide you like a book.A great list of A-I banned books and J-Z.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Goodnight Moon and Goodbye Cigarette

HarperCollins has digitally removed a cigarette from a photograph of Goodnight Moon illustrator Clement Hurd's hand. The photograph of Hurd, with cigarette, has been on the book for at least 20 years. HarperCollins said they removed the cigarette to avoid installing the wrong ideas in children. Hurd's estate, run by his son, has signed off on the change, though admittedly under pressure from the publishing company.

A debate has ensued since the change. Pete Cowdin a bookstore owner from Kansas City has created a website, called, in order to protest the change. At Cowdin's sight you can vote either for or against the picture change.

I understand both sides of this debate. On one hand you don't want to promote smoking to children, but on the other hand, can one really say that the picture promotes smoking? I think that the picture could be a good point of conversation for the child and their parent. For example, say the child says "Oh wow Momma/Papa that man smokes." that provides the perfect time for you (Momma or Papa) to explain to the child why smoking is wrong. If the picture wasn't there this opportunity for growth and understanding would never have occurred.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The French Riots

Two teenagers have been detained in France for issuing a call to riot. The young men, via a post on their blog, encouraged rioters to harm people and property. One of the detained teens merely left a comment on the post. I can't find any specifics of what the young men wrote, and without more facts it is hard to take a side of this issue.

Apparently the situation is this, there's a riot in France and two young men who are poor and angry say some things in the heat of the moment and boom -- they go to prison. They weren't arrested for rioting themselves. In fact, as far as I can tell, they didn't riot at all.

Yes, they could have said something horrible like "kill all the French" or something like that but is the act of saying it worthy of being arrested? And, honestly, how many Americans have said that since September 11th?

People say things they don't mean all the time. Like we may argue, you and I, and in the heat of the argument you may say "I'm going to kill you." Should you be arrested? No, not until you come after me with a meat cleaver. Words have an extraordinary power, I know -- but the last time I checked they don't kill or maim or destroy, not on their own, at least -- for that people are needed.

French Riots

Monday, October 31, 2005

Quote of the day post for the Live site

Since I can't post to the site I'm posting this here so come tommrow I can quickly copy and past it to the live site.

When the train, it left the station, with two lights on behind. Well the blue light was my blues and the red light was my mind. All my love's in vain. -- "All My Love In Vain" by Robert Johnson

One legend surouding the blues man Robert Johnson is that he made a deal with the devil, selling his soul for musical genius. Deal or not, Robert Jonson did something right.

Self Censorship Among the Media

I'm in a mass media class and we've recently covered Newspapers. Newspapers, and other media, make money through advertising. If a company spends a lot of money on advertising with a newspaper chances are that newspaper will be extra nice to that company, right?

For example, newspaper X sells a lot of add space to Walmart. Then newspaper X hears that Walmart is doing something horrible to it's workers, as always seems to be the case, so then newspaper X should, in theory, write large, possibly front page, articles about Walmart's worker atrocities. However, since Walmart gives newspaper X so much money, all newspaper X does is write a small one time piece and put it on page seven near "Dear Abby".

Newspapers are one example but most media markets are the same. Television, radio, and television must play to their supporter’s demands, at least to an extent. I'm fairly certain that many media vehicles only do this part of the time. I don't mean to instill an un-rational fear that everyone is lying to you. I mean I’m not. Or am I? How do you know?

What you can do is try paying attention to who donates money or buys a lot of add space to your favorite news source. Next, pay attention to the stories they air and see if your news source is self censoring. You can rely on my being clean, since – no one gives me any money.

Monday, October 24, 2005

China Bans Online Encyclopedia

Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, has been banned in certain parts of China. According to, a multinational "force of opposition" against violations of "freedom of expression," Reporters without borders has called on the Chinese authorities to stop blocking access to the website of the independent online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, whose popularity has been growing steadily in China. The site has been unavailable in several provinces, including Shanghai, since 18 October."

A link to Reporters without border

Monday, October 17, 2005

Strip Clubs against censorship

Believe it or not, there is a coalition of Strip Club owners in Seattle who call themselves the "Coalition Against Censorship" that want to overturn the city's new rules on nude dancing.

I'm always for freedom and nude dancing (just kidding) but I am censorship and I find myself wondering, do I want a group of Strip Club owners to be spokesmen for anti censorship? Many of those pro censorship types already believe that all of us supporters of the first amendment are godless, vile, evildoers, a stereotype I try to disprove by often helping old ladies cross the street while spouting swear words. I'm a good guy who cusses, is that so wrong? Just kidding -- I'm not really a good guy.

Do I want the first thing people think about when they hear an argument against censorship to be these strip club owners? I don't think so.