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Censorship In Australia

No society has ever existed, as far as we know, which has not exercised some
form of censorship over the conduct and opinions of its members… Good morning
teachers and students. Censorship by the government infringes upon the rights of
the individual and inhibits freedom of expression. Now, censorship is a broadly
used term so what exactly IS censorship? Well, censorship is defined by the
Australian Macquarie Dictionary as ?the actions of a censor ? that is, an
official who examines books, plays, news reports, films, radio programs (and
more recently the internet), for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed
objectionable on moral, political, military or other grounds’. Censorship has
been around since the beginning of time. It has been used as a tool to control
what others have access to. In Australia today, we are supposedly guaranteed the
rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press by our constitution. Yet
censorship still exists. We are told censorship is necessary, but at what cost?
National security and public interest, are these valid reasons? Why must the
government decide what is best for me to read or watch in a cinema or in the
privacy of my own home? Sure, we must protect our youth, but that is a parent’s
responsibility, not the government’s. I can understand censorship based upon
national security; we can’t go around selling all of our secrets without a major
threat to our government and our way of life. Censorship is a way of controlling
the population. This is exactly why we have laws that forbid random censorship.

Some censorship is necessary in every culture, but only a minimal amount is
required. Australians love freedom. The rest of the world regards us as one of
the most liberal nations, which is why restrictive censorship is so out of place
here. Censorship is a way of limiting the freedom we so love. Censorship affects
everybody on a both direct and indirect level everyday. Whether it is at the
newsagent, cinemas, music store or the voting booths. When the boundaries of
government censorship start to inhibit freedom of expression and information,
the definition of a democratic society is challenged. A majority of the
censorship I have run into in my lifetime is due to my age. The government
determined some years ago that myself and minors in general were not mature or
old enough to deal with certain subjects and thus forbade us from obtaining
these certain pieces of material. Aside from this I believe myself and the
Australian public have been very fortunate in our academic freedom. Compared to
other places in the world we have a very wide access to material from all over
from a wide variety of points of view. One of the greatest aspects of life,
without any doubt, must be the process of learning and acquiring information.

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Beyond simple facts, this allows an individual to better understand the world
around them in all its different aspects and to better appreciate the diversity
of existence. For these reasons censorship poses a serious threat to both the
individual person and to society as a whole for it obstructs the search for all
knowledge and is detrimental to a complete understanding of life as we know it.

Within any nation it is in the best interests of its citizens to allow all ideas
and information to be free from any restrictions and prohibitions. Free speech
eliminates the possibility of one group imposing its own values and judgments
upon another and instead creates a society of free thinking individuals, who, as
a whole, can work together for the benefit of all. The freedom to read is
essential to the democratic way of life. But today, that freedom is under
attack. Private groups and public authorities everywhere are working to remove
both books and periodicals from sale, to exclude certain books from public
schools, to censor and silence magazines and newspapers, and to limit access to
“controversial” books and periodicals to the general public. The
suppression of reading materials is suppression of creative thought. However or
whenever these attacks occur, they usually fall into at least one of the
following categories: Religion, Violence, Race, Drugs, Sex or Inappropriate
Adolescent Behaviour. All of these categories relate in some form or another to
the issue of obscenity. What IS obscenity? Clearly something hard to talk about
from an objective point of view. “Obscenity” is difficult to discuss
honestly. After all, what makes a thing obscene? It is something too vague
perhaps to be defined. It’s an elusive term we use, but can’t explain. Different
people will always see things differently. This is human nature. Some see
obscenity in nude pictures, statues, paintings, etc while others find obscenity
in completely different things. All the same, “obscene” isn’t the same
as “wrong” or “bad”. The whole premise of obscenity relies
on individual opinion. Recently we have been hearing a lot about the need for
censorship of television and recording industries. Whether it is the cartoon ?Southpark’,
the controversial American television program ? Sex and the City’ or rap
recording artists, someone always seems to arguing about their negative effects
on society and the need for government regulation. Being a fan of rap, I am
particularly interested in issues effecting regulation of the recording industry
and rap artists. Popular “gangsta rappers” include Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg
Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube, and Eminem (aka Slim Shady). Many are outraged at the
explicit lyrics of the songs and the lifestyles of these artists. Snoop Doggy
Dog and Tupac Shakur are two of the most publicized “gangsta rappers”
whose songs contain explicit lyrics and who have been indicted for criminal
activities. I was once given a piece of advice when watching a particularly gory
movie with my father in one of my younger years. He said to me ?If you don’t
like it, don’t look at it’, and I believe this applies to all facets of
society that are affected by censorship ? whether in relation to film,
literature or audio material. Nobody in our society is told what to watch,
listen to or partake in, therefore it should only be fair that nobody is told
what they can’t watch, can’t listen to or can’t partake in. Our world is
not perfect. We are a world filled with violence, sex, racism etc. Certain
literature like “hard-core” or “unclassified” pornography” should
be censored to children. These types of “explicit sex” truly have no
place in front of the eyes of kids. In extreme cases some of this literature
degrades the human race by inciting physical, mental and sexual abuse against
women, animals, and sometimes against men and should not be viewed full stop.

These examples however are in the extreme minority. To make a tree grow
correctly, you must start caring from the very beginning. You must not block its
nutrients, water nor sunlight, but allow it to move around a bit. Our society
needs to be treated in the same fashion. There should indeed be ready access to
information, but in varying degrees of freedom, determined not by censorship,
but by controlled access. The government is trying to protect the population
from the harsh realities of life through censorship of information, but are they
really helping, or are they hindering by restricting the individual’s freedom
to information in a supposedly democratic nation?


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