media censorship of violence





Why does anyone care if our society is aggressive? Does it matter if someone blows up a local post office or a child carries a gun to school? Is violence in our communities really causing anyone any abnormal amount of heartache? To the victims, and the families and friends of the victims, surely it does. Perhaps there are still some individuals who care just for the sake of caring, not because they are grieving a loss. But what does it all mean, and what is causing it? Some will point fingers at their televisions and movie theatres and assert that they are to blame. Not being one in the habit of pointing fingers and making absurd accusations, I will explain the free will of man and his inalienable rights to free speech. To censor television and motion pictures because of one faction’s set of morals is earily similar to book burning. Censorship of media messages is an explicit violation of our constitutionally protected right to expression, and as such, should not be looked to as a solution for modern-day violence in society.
The First Amendment states; “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” (Jefferson, US Constitution). We are an enlightened population well-versed in the understanding of our constitutionally protected natural rights. Freedom of Speech protects us, as citizens, from being persecuted for expressing our thoughts and ideas. This transcends into the idea of freedom of expression. We all have the right and ability to express ourselves, and to analyze the messages we receive. Our republic was founded on what were then radical, controversial ideas. The founding fathers understood the importance of freedom of expression. So why today do we not? Cries for censorship ring loudly across the nation. Kids are killing kids. Schools are slowly becoming places of violence, not educational institutions, and the solution is not to infringe upon our rights. Information is power. New ideas and thoughts propagate improvement. Without free expression, this is not possible. To control the free exchange of thoughts, ideas, and social and moral inquiry, is to severely handicap the intellect of our society. First and foremost, censorship is a blatant violation of free speech. Second, it is a poor approach to controlling the omnipresent problem of violence in society.
In the novel Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., The United States Handicapper General enforces the law of complete equality. A single person has complete control over the forced equality of the nation. The Handicapper General decides not only what equality is, but also the best way to facilitate it. How does one censor information and maintain objectivity? Censorship turns our governing bodies into institutions of paternalistic moralism. Our society celebrates diversity and is a sampling of numerous cultures and modes of thinking. It is not reasonable to think that a single, shared definition of “appropriate” can be reached concerning media messages. This leaves our legislature to act as moral babysitters guiding us on how to feel and what to think. It is not the role of our government to guide us to live lives based on one particular sect’s definition of morality. It also becomes dangerously close to a mixture of church and state; morals are often closely intertwined with religion. Censorship of images of violence in the media by the government concedes one’s personal decision over what images are appropriate to view. As a thinking people, we do not need to be herded like sheep towards a central, forced view of appropriate media messages. When the government rules certain media messages immoral and inappropriate, they deny the population of it’s right to think independently and make choices for themselves. The role of the government is to protect our rights, not to appoint Morality Generals who decide what is best for us.
Drama for the masses. Entertainment filled with blood, murder, rape and assault that is viewed for pleasure. What purpose does such violent entertainment serve? His name was William Shakespeare, and he is now known as the world’s greatest playwright. Music to eat dinner to. Two Baroque composers who were under-appreciated at best did not see appreciation for their works until after their death. Bach and Mozart are now arguably