Censorship and conservatism...

I have previously identified myself as being somewhat (my perspective) to the right of center, politically. I always scratch my head, however, when someone from the extreme right decries the inefficiency of Big Government, yet fails to see hypocrisy in a cry for the government to step in and set standards for what should be allowed to be seen, heard, and read on television, in the movies, or at the library.

Does anyone here believe censorship is necessarily a good thing, apart from special circumstances, such as parental guidance being required for children to examine certain things, such as excessively graphic violence, etc? Do you think any sort of censorship is justifiable? If so, who should be given the authority to determine what you should be allowed to read, hear, or see?


Well, I am fairly fanatic about opposing censorship.

In some, highly specialized areas, I understand it.

Even those areas make me squirm because of the possibility of abuse and over use.

Child Pornography
National Security
Slander and Libel
Stuff like screaming “Fire!!!” in a crowded theater
With each and everyone I see a huge potential for abuse if rules are not instituted, as well as if they are over instituted.
Let me second your views about confusion when those to the right of me politically (there are some) start screaming for gov’t controls of things.

The only form of censorship I truly support, is that of short-term censorship of military matters (particularly of actions currently underway, re: war) when revealing that information could jeopardize the success and the lives of those involved. Unfortunately, this inherently creates an arbitrary gray area about what defines “national security” and “state secrets”, and opens up the potential for abuse. Howvever, I think this is a necessary evil, and one that’s better to err on the side of safety than potentially destroy yourself for the sake of a news scoop.

I don’t consider libel laws to be a form of censorship: they’re not limiting what people can say, they simply force people to be accountable for it if it’s damaging and (this is the important part) truly groundless. You can say any cripplingly devastating thing you want about someone if it’s true, or if you had substantial reason to think its true. Interestingly enough, you can tell all sorts of lies about someone if it makes them sound good (hey, politics!)

Porn (kiddy, animal, or otherwise), violence, language, Huck Finn, Mein Kampf, whatever. I see no reason to try to stamp it out. I feel it’s better to let people decide for themselves what they’re “prepared” for, and trying to deny or hide something you don’t like isn’t going to make it go away. Learn to deal with it, and the problem will be solved much better than censoring it ever would.

I’m not a big fan of “protecting the children”, for that reason. You can shelter your spawnlings all you want, but the “ugly” facts of life are going to come out sooner or later. IMNSHO, it’s better to deal with it sooner than later, rather than let them build up a false world view that will inevitably be shattered. Don’t bury a field of psychological landmines in the naieve hope of “protection”.

Censorship is not a conservative tenet.

Conservatism tends to catch most of the censorship flack, but its not because conservatism promotes it, but because of the affiliation of Religous Right groups with the Republican Party. These people tend to get offended by lots of things and their efforts to have those things banned gather a lot attention.

The liberals are just as guilty. The removal of the confederate flag from state buildings is only one recent example. And remeber it was Tipper Gore who spearheaded the Parental Advisories on music.

A great book about this is What Johnny Shouldn’t Read. It does a really good job of showing how both ultraconservative and ultraliberal groups use censorship in textbooks.

Animal porn, Miem Kiempf, whatever, knock yourself out. Kiddie porn is wrong. You are forcing children to partake in actions that they are too young to possibly consent to. Would you consider the rape of adults for the purpose of creating pornography acceptable?

Additionally, you don’t have to rape a kid to teach them about sex and bring them up with an environment that allows them to develop their own sexual practices in due time. It is not lying to a child to not force them to have sex you.

I agree except…

(there’s always an except around here, isn’t there?:))
Except that when it comes to child pornography, the child did not get to decide.

If you want to talk about fictional child porn, computer generated, anime etc… then we have a different discussion going. But if we are talking about stripping an 8 year old down and then taking sexualy suggestive pictures to distribute to others as pornography, then I’m going to stick to my guns.

Real child porn is nothing more than child abuse.

I knew I was going to take flak for the kiddy porn inclusion. Let the witch-burning begin. If you want to argue about it, go resuscitate one of the more recent threads on it, I think you can find my point of view in one of them. However, you’ll notice that even Freedom2 can pull examples of “good” kiddy porn off the top of his head.

I also agree with JamesCarroll that censorship is by no means a strictly conserative habit. Look at the recent Democratic ticket: Not only was the prospective First Lady for her own brand of censorship, as mentioned, but the prospective veep has also held his own censorship crusade towards video games and Hollywood. The targets may differ from that of conservative censors, but the method and results are no less invidous…and, amusingly enough, both do it to “protect the children”.

“Protect the children”. A dangerous mantra, responsible for some of the most disgusting political moves of recent times. I suggest everyone ring warning bells whenever they hear it.

First to respond to Baloo, nice of you to point out that ou are a bit to the right. I tell people who claim to be PURE centrists “There is nothing in the middle of the road except yellow lines and dead armadillos.”

I agree with all taht you said, but the problem arises with who get’s to decide what falls under those catagories. According the the U.S. government the files on Kennedy’s assasination were too much of a security risk to devulge years ago and will continue to be for a while. As for Child pornography, that can get messy when it comes time to translate what is pornographic or not. A famous photographer had his place raided by police because they belived he was keeping child porn, he took pictures of naked children on commision of thier parents. He still hasn’t been charged with a crime after several years. His name escapes me, it’s been a while since I read about it, but pass the name Brett Sturgis through a search engine, something might come up.

I think each of the two major political parties (Republican and Democrat) each has their own pet topics of censorship (in general).

The content that Republicans (usually the Religious Right) seems to decry content that is spoken against in scripture (sex, homosexuality, nudity), while Democrats tend to go more after things like violence (video games, guns in movies, etc.). And, yes, I acknowledge that this isn’t a universal truth, but it seems like the leaders/higher-ups of the two parties seem to follow this trend.

I would argue that censorship is a tool. A tool to squash ideas that one group or another may find offensive. Wielded by either the left or the right, in its extremes, it attacks and hurts the goals of our great land.

The problem, of course, is given a motive of “total disclosure”, we cause more good than harm.

Child pornographers and some others are quick to say “Hey, don’t censor me. Let the people decide!”. But what they fail to realize is that not all people are created equal. Or at the very least, not everyone has the personal tools needed to make valid judgements about what they see or otherwise come into contact with.

We seem to think that children are born as adults. That they can discern with appropiate intelligence what is good or bad for their well being.

But can you say the same thing about even yourself. As a young person did you always make the right choice? Aren’t there people in your past that gave you a vision of a path that would make you a better a person?

So there’s the rub: Who should know what? When should they konw it? Who has the ability to deal with the information and data in a responsible way? And, of course, what is responsible?

That’s why it makes me squirm.

Much of the current action in this arena involves private groups putting economic pressure on other private entities to get controversial ideas and images banned. While I tend to oppose these campaigns, I don’t see them as censorship. An exception would be when some yahoos on a school board decide to rip books out of the school library. Freedom2’s points on censorship are well taken.

And while I definitely do not want to refight the Civil War here, a legislative decision to remove the Confederate battle flag design from the state flag is not censorship. It would be censorship if they told James he couldn’t display it on his truck or home…and I’d oppose that (queasily).

FTR,an excellent source on this topic is the book
Free Speech For Me – But Not For Thee: How The American Right and Left Relentlessly Censor Each Other by the always-eloquent Nat Hentoff.