CENSORSHIP SHOULD BE NO MORE
Friday, March 25, 2005
Censorship has, for the most part, been a non-issue since George Carlin's famous "7 Words you can't say on the radio" bit. The seven words you weren't allowed to broadcast were: Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits. Well, I just said 'em, so why am I ranting about censorhip? There are still semblances of censorship, though on a much smaller scale nowadays.
When you think about it, we should be able to say whatever we want to whoever we want without fear of judicial repercussion. I should be able to say "Nigger" to an African-American, though if he wants to shoot me, that's of his volition and not the state's. I don't care about that - getting shot. What I do care about is being able to say the above 7 words, among a few others, on broadcast. It's a violation of our First Amendment rights not to be able to say what you want to say. And I'm not writing this in hopes I can one day say "Nigger" without having my life ended by 9 millimeters of lead.
Words are just that, words. They have no meaning until a person, anyone, assigns a meaning to it. Then, said person will promote this new meaning, and it will be generally accepted by society. But, who's to say it's right? People should give each word a meaning themselves, and not just accept what society feeds them. I'm not suggesting that everyone go out and write their own dictionary, and change the meaning of every word. I'm merely saying that people shouldn't be so quick to swallow what the general public and media feed them.
If Cartman wants to say "Fuck you, Jew" to Kyle on South Park, he should be able to without having the censors bleeping out the "curse words". As an example of how outdated the ideology of censorhip is, think about the term "curse word". It was believed, back in the times of the Salem witch trials, that if you said a certain word or phrase, that a curse would be placed upon you and that you would have a horrible life henceforth, and would not get into heaven. That's Puritan society for you: simple, God-fearing. Of course, in today's society, when such words are being said casually, the belief of a curse is long gone. But the Puritan ideology is still there: If you say these words, God won't like you.
Without getting into a rant on God, I'll suffice it to say that if there is a God, I'm sure he's not such a discriminating prick as to judge your eligibility to heaven merely on an instance in which you said an "offensive" word. Besides, what's offensive is to be determined by each individual. If I say "the" to someone and they find it offensive, I'll make a mental note and make it a point not to say that word around that particular person. And that's how it should be - on a person by person basis. But with censorship today, you can't say the dirty words on the airwaves to anyone. Basically, if it offends the censors, bleep you.
Censorship ruins the point the author, musician, or performer is trying to get across. Having to submit "darn" in place of "damn" makes your sentence seem a lot weaker, and is less likely to be taken seriously by listeners or readers. Words are an expression of emotion, and by censoring certain words, it's like saying, "Feel this way, instead of that way." It's all a bunch of Puritan ideology that was outdated long ago. They tried to control how you thought, how you spoke, how you acted, everything, all on the premise that if you acted out of line, God wouldn't take it too kindly.
There is only one instance in which I feel censorship is appropriate: threats. Threats endanger the lives of others, and although they are as much open to interpretation as any other words, they should be taken very seriously. When you start endangering the lives of others, freedom goes out the window and you have to start protecting lives. If someone says "I'm gonna blow your head off," you should probably take him very seriously, instead of going philosophical and ignoring imminent danger.
And although I would love to have complete removal of censorship, that is not possible, as institutions, such as schools, have the right to manage the kind of language that gets tossed around from mouth to ear. It is the school's right to say "You can't say that word," and if you say it, they have the right to punish you. As unfair as it is, it is as much their right to control your speech as it is your right to speak without control.
So, censorship is a very controversial subject on many levels, although it may not seem that way. Use your language freely, but wisely. Individuals still can act on impulse if offended, so don't think that just because the First Amendment is there that you can walk into Harlem shouting racist remarks. But if someone tells you to shut up for speaking your mind, don't give in.