How much censorship do you believe in?

Inspired by this topic: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=498447

If you could decide the law, how much censorship, if any, would you deem necessary? I mainly am interested in media (TV, movies, music) along with book censorship, but feel free to detail other kinds that are important to you.

I am not a parent, but I’ve been around younger relatives my whole life, so I get consistently sick of people saying that my view will change once I have kids. I dont want to piss on their parade, but not everyone becomes hypocritical when kids come. My personal beliefs are that censorship is never ok, except when it presents a physical danger to people

That doesnt mean I’m all for people dropping “fuck” in every other sentence, or referring to women as bitches or blacks as niggers. I’m against that and I wouldnt say that except when I’m very angry. I detest kids who seem to think swearing makes them cool, and feel artists are retarded if they cant get their point across without cussing up a storm. Still, I want to make a distinction very very clear: just because I hate it and find it annoying does not mean I want to censor it.

I am ardently for people having unfettered access to public broadcasts, even if its a children’s tv/radio station, to say whatever cuss words they want. I wouldnt flinch if I had kids who heard an uncensored movie where they talk about fucking, masturbating, suicide, drugs, and shooting people. Words may have power, but it has power only so much as we grant them. “Fuck” is nonsense, it only has the power to shock because we’ve been conditioned to recoil at its use. The generations following mine will make new cuss words, and soon I’ll be hearing about “zogging someone’s yitting huthole” and it’s supposed to be the worst thing ever? Please, give me a break

My anti-censorship stance extends to images as well. While I have personally not watched “2 girls 1 cup” and dont ever want to see it and would have a serious problem with whatever network that decides to show it, I would decry government censorship of even that. If my kid sees a superbowl nipple, I wouldnt mind, nor would I mind them seeing the Vagina Monologues in kindergarten, or naked models in front of a Victoria’s Secret store. I simply dont care

The only thing that matters to me are things that present a danger to people, and not the ephemeral spritual kind. I’m perfectly happy that people cant shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater and grateful that slander and libel can be sued. Real physical danger is more objective than if your sensibilities got hurt or your god thinks what you’re watching is naughty. That kind of thing is subjective and changing, and government has no place dictating what you can and cannot see

My field of study is psychology and one thing we are taught over and over is that correlation does not equal causation. This applies especially in something as hard to pinpoint as human thoughts. Yes, we know that violent imagery and situations can have an effect on human brains. But that doesnt mean it causes it. You may want to take a “just in case” attitude, but too much of that excuse is given when taking away legal things for adults to see and hear simply because some kids might be in the room. And we also know that it is a fact a great majority of sexual predators, serial killers, and other criminals typically are exposed to things like porn and violence at an early age. But the fact that many many others who grow up in that environment turn out perfectly normal speaks to a higher causation/correlation of good parenting. Or sometimes, its simply genes. The point is, specious correlations of violence and sex doesnt, at least to me, make very much sense when government is justifying taking away and censoring things for adults. If I had my way, all censorship except the above would be gone.

I think that an important and significant result of such stupifying censorship and crushing religious mores serve to indoctrinate people now into easily believing that things like Harry Potter, homosexuality, and safe sex are the rightful purview of fretful parents and family organizations. To me, Harry Potter in the school library is not a parental decision. Its a decent kids book, theres nothing anti-Christian about it, and parents should not have the ability to so easily dismiss books in a kids library. Neither should overly religious librarians. Homosexuality can and should be studied as early as possible, to teach kids that it is ok. Its not a parental decision, its an education decision, just like saying black kids and white kids are no different. And sex ed should begin in kindergarten, so that the safety of kids who may have weird uncles and suspicious babysitters can be protected early. This isnt about how “liberals” want your kids to have sex early, this is about having all the information necessary to make an informed decision

Almost none. Absent speech inciting immediate, specific violent acts - “Hey, let’s all meet at the church at noon tomorrow, then head over to Mr. Excellent’s house and lynch him!” - censorship is never, ever acceptable. If someone says something you find repugnant, then the solution is counter-speech, not censorship. Free speech is the life-blood of democracy, and we shed it at our peril.

Slander as defined in the US should be punishable. As should direct calls for illegal (violent or not) acts and short-termed speech intended to cause panic which could reasonably be assumed to cause harm (like shouting “fire” in a closed environment when there isn’t any fire).

Right now, I think all other “speech acts” should be legal.

I don’t. If you as a parent find something “suggestive” that Junior shouldn’t see, then you as a parent have the right to limit such content to him. That I am okay with. However, no adult should be filtered at the trump of someone who finds someting offensive to themselves or another child as long as such content is legal. If offended, then you need to turn off the tube, radio, internet, or leave.

Whaaa…?! Who blabbed about the Boxing Day Surprise?!

I agree with you, in any case.

No censorship in media people decides to watch/hear; radio, television, newspapers, books, magazines etc. Don’t like it. Don’t watch it. On things like public billboards which are visible from public space I do want some censorship.

And things that do have sexual or violent content that some people might find objectionable should have to be clearly labeled as such, so you can avoid that stuff if you don’t want to see it. Someone who’s not looking for porn shouldn’t find porn. But there shouldn’t be any attempts to make it more difficult to get beyond what’s necessary to keep it away from people who want to see it. Have the porn magazines in the convenience stores and bookstores, maybe hidden behind a divider that just shows the title so people who don’t want to see the cover don’t have to, but the people who want those magazines can easily get them. I wouldn’t even have a problem with them advertising porn magazines or shows on other TV shows or in other magazines, as long as the ads themselves weren’t pornographic.

I certainly do wince when my preschooler walks in on South Park, but that doesn’t mean I want anyone (except my teenaged son watching it) to censor it for me. Censorship should be done by parental units or similar authorities on an individual basis, not by a governmental agency. Again, with the exception of safety concerns and libel/slander.

What I *would *like is a technological delay system of some sort. My main problem with explicit images (violence more often than sex; that’s just my value system at work) on television is that it’s easy to say, “if you don’t want it, don’t watch it”, but not so easy to do when I turn on my television to put on Wonderpets and we get treated to 10 seconds of people bleeding and screaming while the television is turned on and I’m waiting for the cablebox to respond to the remote. I’d love some sort of Preview Delay or something: when the box is turned on, it goes to a blue screen instead of the show, telling me what’s playing and what the TV Rating is (and why) and asking me if I’d like to proceed to the program or change channels. That’d be nice. But I’d like it as an optional setting only; I don’t want to impose such a delay on others.

Someone’s got to make those decisions for the community, though. It’s just as easy to say, “Girls should grow up knowing their place is in the home raising babies; there’s nothing anti-Christian about it, and parents should not have the ability to so easily dismiss books in a kids library.” or “There’s nothing inherintly damaging about loving sexual relationships between adults and pubescent children, the emotional and psychological trauma is a result of our culture’s taboo around it, not the act itself; we should provide all the information necessary for kids to decide whether or not they want to give their uncle a blowjob.” While I agree with your assertions, not everyone does. Not nearly everyone does. Why should you and I get to be the ones to decide what our neighborhood’s values are?

I doubt you will find any on this Board who would say they want more censorship. As noted above some of the obvious things should be “censored” (although not sure it is appropriate to call it that) such as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire or slander and so on.

I think the greater danger today is a sort of de facto censorship. People using “politically correct” (for lack of a better term) language or political spin meisters softening the language so it is all somehow more palatable. George Carlin does a million times better treatment of this than I can ever do so read some of his stuff. For example Carlin notes, “There’s a conditioning that’s been done to us, largely, I think, from religion,” he says. “I have always felt these are legitimate words created by humans as part of their ways of communicating with each other, and … they shouldn’t be considered wrong or apart. To call it ‘fucking’ or to call it ‘intercourse’ is not really to make a distinction between those two acts. It’s the same act.” (cite)

I think the world would be better if we spoke more honestly. However, this is more a cultural thing than a legal thing so not sure how you go about changing it. Carlin did a bang up job trying and didn’t manage to stem this particular tide.

I can shield my younger children from adult content on my own, I don’t want someone forcefeeding me censorship that invariably impacts adults negatively.

I’ve always believed that simply giving it over to the “community” is a shorthand way of expressing some overbearing religious traditional view. You’re right that someone has to decide this, and you’re right that we cant simply decide what other people’s values are. But one overlooked variable in this equation is the children (“Oh won’t somebody please think of the children!” /Maude Flanders). They are as strangers to a new neighborhood but worst off as they cannot simply pack up and leave. There has to be a standard to ensure that the neighborhood’s values and decisions has no negative impact on someone so defenseless. For the same reason why I wouldnt want some white supremacist neighborhood stocking their libraries with KKK material, I wouldnt want some neighborhood to think they are protecting their children by getting rid of all the hateful anti-gay or Harry Potter books in the local library

I would want some safety net to protect kids from bigotry and archaic traditional values. As a city dweller, I’m constantly assaulted by hateful rhetoric about how small town values are American values. Most people live in urban areas more than rural, city values are American values. I’m not so wary or paranoid of big government, so my preference would be that such decisions are made at a state level, away from your local townships or villages in the middle of nowhere. I’d much prefer the pains of state bureaucracy over small town narrowmindedness

Close to zero, certainly not any for objection to the offensiveness of the material.

Certainly any adult should be able to experience any material they desire, as long as the method of procurement doesn’t violate laws unrelated to the offensiveness of the material.

I suppose materials can be restricted if they violate privacy, or government secrecy, or intellectual property. And speech that causes immediate physical danger.

And people should have at least a small amount of control over what they don’t want to be exposed to.

This is my “anger button” issue, let me say something before I post though:

For me censorship requires PRIOR restraint, as such saying “let’s go lynch this guy” and then arresting everyone who listened/the guy who said it isn’t censorship, it’s damage mitigation/prevention. Censorship is telling a news network they CAN’T say “go lynch this guy.” I personally think that’s not okay… no don’t walk away. The reason I say this is because any prior restraint leaves up giant gaping holes for abuse, yes that’s why we have court precedents, but I still don’t like it. Yes, prior restraint can mitigate damage too, but at that point you’re pointing at people you think MIGHT do something and essentially threatening them beforehand which to me is only one small step from saying you can’t protest, or from segregation of some kind (they can’t be with MY child in class because their socioeconomic and racial status indicates they MIGHT be a bad influence on my little darling).

That said I do think time/place/manner restrictions do have some merit (sure, you can say that, just not angrily outside his house at 12 AM, go preach your hate at home or in your cultgrounds or something) as they’re not taking away your right to say something, but do prevent things from happening by keeping them in the appropriate arena, but I’m kind of on the fence on that issue because it’s also fairly subject to abuse.

On the concept of book banning, I often hear people saying “I mean, I don’t want “How to Start a NAMBLA Chapter” on my library shelves…” I think libraries should strive to stock every book possible, obviously there are space restrictions here, but a library should take all donations, mark them, put them on their shelves (yes, even “The Anarchist’s Cookbook” and such) and leave it. The acceptable “censorship” come sin priority, feel free to take out the less culturally relevant or more dangerous book in favor of “how to save to world” and certainly buy that one before the others if you have extra funds and space for new books, but don’t take ANYTHING out if you have room left.

I’m not too worried about hard-imposed censorship though, I’m more worried about corporate censorship. On one hand I support efforts to maintain an “image” to attract customers, on the other hand once your chain becomes big enough you weild too much influence. AO games generally don’t get made because the big retailers (specifically Wal-Mart and Gamestop) refuse to carry titles bearing the AO rating, as well as any unrated games (barring very specific exceptions). Same with NC-17 films.

Now the knee-jerk reaction is “they’re smut anyway, the people who really want them can order them online.” But here’s the thing: the “smuttiness” is more of an effect than a cause and the ratings seem almost entirely arbitrary at times (if Age of Conan was going to be rated AO they would’ve had to cut topless females… as opposed to ridiculously gory fatalities, thanks guys). Games and movies that tell intimate character driven stories have to really, really watch what they do, they COULD be magnificent art and “directors cut” versions somewhat allow this still, but for the most part artists are too afraid of getting hit with the NC-17 label and we get somewhat lukewarm storytelling because of safety reasons since they never know exactly WHAT will send them over the edge.

Anyway this is getting long and I should probably end it, so barring a conclusion I give you this for your entertainment:
What’s that Johnny? We don’t have a filler clip? CENSORED? Well… damn.

None. Any questions?

Just slander and incitement to violence, if those even count as censorship. Everything else should be properly labeled so those who wish to avoid it can do so, but otherwise untouched.

By the government? None. Including sexual content. Basically I think it would be self limiting…if people were offended then it would reflect poorly on the product being marketed. So, if someone tried to put on an ad during a childrens show for a X-Rated version of Booty Juice then I expect the public backlash would be sufficient that whichever idiot ad agency set it up would be out of business as ratings plunged through the floor. Same goes for billboards and signs and such…I don’t think we need to government to save us. Our pocket books would do a good job.

-XT

I despise censorship because I believe I’m intelligent enough to make my own decisions without the help of anyone else, thank you very much.

That said, however (there’s always a however, isn’t there?), I do have children. They’re well into the thinking-for-themselves years (read: teens) and if they’re unsure of something, they’ll ask me and I’ll give them my opinion and they’ll either buy it or keep the ball rolling until someone scores. We watched the *Kill Bill *volumes together and they got it. It inspired some very interesting discussion and a lot of laughs. I doubt they’ll become assassins.

My sister is deeply religious and ardently shields her children from anything she believes is “dangerous.” (Insert favorite *South Park *episode here.) We have discussed this and disagree, but I come back to a lesson I learned in Drivers Ed, fer Chrissake: if you’re afraid that your child will die of drowning, either move to the desert or teach ‘em to swim.

So are some of you saying that when Junior comes home from school at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon, it is okay for him to turn on the TV set and have local, over the air broadcast showing him two men, a goat, three midgets, and a cow having carnal relations with each other?

Government should not regulate that content in any way?

No. We have rules and my children have always abided by them. Best reason? They trust me. That has nothing to do with government. It has to do with faith in one another.

If they want to see something, or have seen something, we talk about it. Leads to many interesting discussions.

By the way, if you get “local, over the air broadcast showing him two men, a goat, three midgets, and a cow having carnal relations with each other?” you need to switch providers. So far, I don’t have that problem. My regrets to you.

No, they should not. Not when we have, or could create, technological ways to prevent children from seeing what their parents deem inappropriate while letting adults make their own choice.