Censorship- Has it gone too far already?

Subject: Censorship- Has it gone too far already?
From: Maya Horn
Date: 6 Mar 2019

Imagine a closed off America, a country born of a rebellion against the suppression of rights now turned to censor the expression past ancestors once fought for the freedom to have. This depiction is shown perfectly in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a novel painting a picture of a future where books are simply fuel for the fire, and the only information given to the population has no substantial value. Though fiction, the conditions of censorship described in Fahrenheit 451 are very real in today’s world, and has been since the time of the Romans. From minor restrictions in the U.S. of books to the extremes in countries such as Iran, China, or North Korea, where researching certain topics is forbidden by the government, and could warrant arrest. These governments control the flow of information through media in order to control things like political affiliation, religious standpoint, or moral views. As Captain Beatty, a compelling antagonist of Fahrenheit 451 points out, “If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and the wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.” However, censorship of information by the government or society imposed upon citizens is morally unfair as it gives little information to formulate educated opinions, decisions and thoughts on.
The freedom to express ourselves is protected under first amendment of our constitution, guaranteeing the human rights of speech, protest, and press. Censorship is demeaning of the rights which were established by the founding fathers in the creation of the country, though many of those rights and amendments have evolved with the times, if one right is taken away what will happen to the rest? As Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
The main argument for censorship is to suppress obscene things like pornography, hate speech, or harassment. And though it is reasonable to want to obscure information and media of that nature, censoring it does not make it go away, it simply hides it, like sweeping dust under the rug. Many will still find ways to express or view those things, and the only way to truly be rid of them is exterminating the source. As put by the National Coalition Against Censorship puts it, “Banning them {sensitive words}, unfortunately, is not likely to erase the pain of historical reality.” The argument for censoring books in specific is that they can expose children to mature themes such as sex, drugs, and violence. However, it is the parent’s responsibility to control what their child learns or views. Also, they will learn of those anyways through classmates at school or their environment. Why not educate them about these topics in order for them to learn how to make healthy choices? Ignorance can lead to curiosity, and as they say, curiosity killed the cat. An educated mind leads to better decisions because there is more information to base it on. Children can learn from these things and learn how to avoid or prevent them.
We see the effects of this censorship in the past, with Nazis of World War II burning propaganda and works by Jewish authors to further silence the Jews and further control the views of the Germans. It can be seen in the present, in dictatorships who censor valuable information to maintain order and control. It is shown in predictions of the future like Fahrenheit 451. No matter the time frame, country, or motive, restriction of information by either governments or societal norms is unfair to free expression and those who use it, as it prevents people from forming educated and thought out decisions and opinions. In order to prevent becoming like the societies of Nazi Germany or Communist North Korea, encourage openness and understanding for free expression and instead of pushing to censor obscene things, push to get rid of the obscene things themselves so that all expression isn’t suppressed with it.

Works Cited
Censorship, National Coalition Against. n.d. 5 March 2019. .
Gale. Global Issues in Context Online Collection. 2018. 5 March 2019. .
—. Opposing Viewpoints in Context Online Collection. 2 January 2019. 5 March 2019. .
University, Penn State. 18 November 2014. 5 March 2019. .