There have always been authorities that are determined to safeguard the moral purity and sanctity of society in the area of communication. This was evident in 399 B.C. at the execution of Socrates, philosopher and teacher in ancient Greece, who was charged with corrupting the youth of Athens with his controversial teaching methods and drawing them away from the Greek religion. Although freedom of speech and expression is one of the statutes that every country upholds especially in this modern world, the speech of one person would definitely have an effect on another. Thus, the need for the suppression of speech or the destruction of communicative materials deemed harmful.
Is “censorship” necessary in media circles? This is one of the prominent questions that spark a debate when censorship in the media is discussed. While one party views censorship as a means of protecting society from moral corruption, another sees it as a way of telling lies, especially for political regimes who use it to quash subversive ideas that could harm their reign.
The media is one of the leading influential factors of people; what they see, read or hear on the media inform their decision and way of life. The constant screening of Nigerian films on almost all TV Stations has affected the language of young people who now take to pidgin as their informal mode of communication. The whole society is endangered if laws which regulate the use of graphic violence, obscenity and abusive language are not put in place. Do not forget it was the uncensored comments of journalist on Radio Television des Milles Collines, a radio station in Rwanda, which incited the Rwandan genocide that led to the loss of about 500,000 lives in a span of 100 days.
Censorship is the only way that the minds of young people can be freed from being corrupted. If young people could tell the difference between fiction and reality, there would be no need for censorship, but as naïve and adventurous as they are, they cannot identify what is right from wrong. It is appropriate for some sexual or violent items to be censored in videos or music so as to protect people from the drive to be violent or immoral.
John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the USA once said, “if this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all – except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.” Some people have thought in line with this quote and said the use of censorship will lead to the decline of a nation. Censoring issues, especially those that deal with worldly affairs will leave society with narrow-minded citizens. Authorities can censor media information so much that everything from the media is make believe. Society needs to see the reality on the ground especially when it comes to news around the world; if not, the façade of keeping society would only produce ignorant citizens which will impact on community thinking. We need to be able to completely comprehend what is going on in our environment, or else the government is hiding the horrors of the country from its own people.
Whether or not the issue of censorship is being overrated, the world has a bigger problem to deal with now that the internet is the main source of information to most people. Can the internet be censored? The media cannot be blamed fully for corrupting people’s minds because they only portray what is actually happening in society. It is like blaming a polluted stream for being polluted instead of humans who put the pollutants there. Censors have done much and are somewhat necessary, but it is a shortcut approach to keeping society. The media should instead, strive to produce materials that society can be proud of.