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ENGL 110- Media Censorship- an opposing agent of Democracy

Aug 18, 2023

    Writing Assignment – Essay 3 – The Final Argumentative Essay

    This argumentative essay is your chance to demonstrate your understanding of some of the concepts we have gone over in class. Your essay should feature a three-part argumentative thesis statement (the one with the “although” and “because” statements), a new argument in every body paragraph, at least one refutation paragraph that follows our three-part format, and clear topic sentences that let your reader know exactly what point each paragraph will argue.

    Your introduction should consist of one of the hook strategies you learned, background information on your topic and our argumentative 3-part thesis statement.

    Your conclusion should be made up of a re-statement of your simple thesis in new words, a summary of the arguments you made in your essay, and one of the lasting impressions you learned about in the lesson materials.

     The Assignment

    In a 6-7 page, typed, double-spaced, thesis-driven essay, please answer one of the following prompts:

    1) Should media be further censored/banned?

    Those who support censoring or banning media argue that video games, television, movies, music, and social media are having a negative influence on our society. At the forefront of this argument is the concern that violent content, in particular, is contributing to many of the tragedies we’ve seen in recent years, most prominently the attacks that have taken place on school campuses. Those who oppose such censorship believe it would constitute a violation of the core principles of our society, and they question the connection between media and such events.

    Media Censorship- an opposing agent of Democracy

    As Warren Christopher puts it ‘Without a Free and Independent Media True Democracy is unattainable’. Democracy depends upon the ideal of Liberty. Liberty is extremely necessary for the functioning of Democracy. Liberty implies providing people with a platform to propagate their views. If that platform is censored then this liberty will be severely compromised. Such a working mechanism will lead to the reversal of Democratic values. Although supporters of Media censorship may argue that it will reduce Hate Speech, Media shouldn’t be further censored or banned because it will compromise Freedom of Speech.

    Censorship as a tool can be used to spread the opinion of the majority and repress the thoughts of the minority. Democracy attempts to value everybody’s opinion. Even though Democracy rewards the opinion of the majority, making their choice the people’s representatives. Though the principles dictate that even in such a situation the People’s representatives need to respect and safeguard the minorities. Miller believes that minorities should have their opinion heard in the Democratic mechanism according to its ideals (Miller & Phillip, p.22). In the case of Censorship fulfilling this responsibility would become extremely difficult. The power of Censorship will always be in the hands of those who would have authoritative power, which in most cases is borne out of the majority. Such powers would repress opposition and not let it be reflected. Robert Mapplethorpe’s sexually explicit photographs caused a lot of stir, which eventually led to the director of the exhibition getting arrested. In this case, Nudity was not the majority’s preferred aspect to witness, but even then its presence should not have been criticized and repressed, since it was not causing lawlessness. This example outlines how a minority’s opinion is not only repressed but also punished due to censorship. This is an unfair action since none of the aspects can be given the judgment of positive or negative.

    Censorship will be sought to create a narrative rather than the truth. The power of censorship is always with the people in authority. The authoritative forces always seek to reinforce their beliefs to keep their power. Hitler used Media brilliantly to paint Jewish people as the ‘enemy of Christianity’. The tool was so effective that almost the whole country accepted the narrative, paving the way for genocide. In the Salem Witch Trials Social Media in its nascent form caused havoc. Though the issue to be considered is the voices that were allowed to propagate. To usurp the property of convicted ‘witches’ and ‘wizards’, the authorities began to suppress the voices that were defending their targeted victims. Hence, media considering its power and influence should never be under the control of a single body or organization. Media by its principles should be fair and must be permitted to showcase all perspectives, so that people can form an informed opinion, through judgment.

    Media Censorship leads to less economic competition and ultimately spells doom for small businesses. Every form of media earns its revenue through advertisement. Advertisement in the last few decades has turned out to be a great tool for small businesses to propel their establishments. Yixia emphasizes that if Media is censored then it would lead to huge corporations usurping the advertisement avenue, leaving small businesses with no tools to promote themselves (Li et al. p.592). In India, a company named Jio was promoted through Government backing and eventually accumulated a huge portion of the telecommunication industry pushing away companies like Vodafone and Airtel. Thus, Government’s involvement in the advertising sector is an unfair concept and shouldn’t happen. Governments, specifically parties are always looking for investment, and big corporations are capable of providing that. If censorship is provided then the parties might use their influence to gain investment in exchange for promotion. Such an occurrence would be unfortunate for small businesses and even rival corporations, as it would be difficult to counter Government’s influence. Thus, automatically less competition would be levied on the Economic landscape.

    The perspective of the public would be compromised if media censorship comes to play. As Nazi Germany and Salem Witch Trials suggest, misinformation in the media results in public manipulation. This is a tactic that Trump’s administration and even Obama have also applied. Various policies put forward by Trump, especially his immigration policies were violent, invasive, and hurtful. Through an organized Media campaign, Trump painted immigrants as evil figures that are taking away the rightful sources of Americans. This was done to gain popular support for his policies. Obama’s immigration policies were also equally harmful and he also applied the same tactic. In his various statements, he described the forceful eviction of children from America as a methodology of uniting families. Various books like Maria Hinojosa’s Once I Was You, strived to bring actual details to light. If Media is censored such books would find it extremely difficult to come into the market. Hence public would remain manipulated without the facts. Hence, to preserve the perspective of the Public in large Media must be independent.

    Censorship demeans the basic Right to Freedom of Speech. In a world where censorship prevails, it would be extremely difficult to express one’s opinion freely without any fear of backlash. Freedom of Speech is an extremely important component of democracy as it keeps the Government in check. Cooper informs that Russia’s independent news media Insider has been censored and not given a reach in the country (Cooper, p. 22). Therefore they are not able to communicate news about the Government’s atrocities towards its people as well as Ukraine. The media uses this Right to not only criticize but also preach universal values. China also applies heavy censorship to prevent any harmful ideal from reaching its public and causing a revolt. Timmer opines that China censored parts of the Classic movie, Fight Club to prevent its message from disrupting their functioning (Timmer, p.42). Freedom of Speech essentially means having the right to speak out your thoughts as well as ask any inquiry freely. Censorship heavily affects the first part, as it controls which thoughts can be communicated to the public, and which will be kept under wraps.

    Censorship has the potential to destroy any aspect of accountability as the responsibility of media consumption shifts to the Government. An individual is responsible for their actions in the society. Even if a person claims to have killed someone due to watching violent video games. The responsibility of watching those video games lies with the individual. In the case of censorship, this accountability is lost. The Government decides which content the public is going to consume. If a Government wants to promote racist ideals then, it will provide content that will encourage racism. Henceforth if the citizens become racist, the responsibility of influencing them lies with the government, not their own choice. This severely damages the scope of development in human beings. A human being grows through choice. It is his/her choices that ultimately shape the kind of people they want to be. In childhood, parents choose every aspect of their kid’s life to shape them as they want to be but ultimately in most cases, they give up their control. In this situation, Government does not cease control. If the concept of ‘choice’ is not provided, then there would be no difference between a person’s childhood and adulthood.

    Censorship requires a lot of tax money and is an expensive venture. Ermoshina estimated that the overall cost of maintaining censorship on a huge operation like the Internet is 2 billion dollars (Ermoshina et al. p.12). It would cost 100 million dollars to shut off the internet in one country. These costs don’t cover the funds that would have to be provided to Law Organisations to enforce censorship on an expansive level. Technology is increasing at a fast rate and is not exactly cheap. The Government would be involved in a cat-and-mouse game with perpetrators in terms of who would build the better technology faster. This would also need a huge amount of funds. Another direct expense would be to inculcate a department specifically for the purpose f censorship. These workers will have to monitor and constantly check up on the Internet for anything opposing. Every country in the world is fighting huge issues that require investment. Hence it would go against the moral duty of the Government in power to pour in funds on censorship rather than important issues like Education, infrastructure, and the Economy.

    It is opined that Media is an unstable tool, but still, it shouldn’t be censored as it is against the democratic ideals of the country. Censorship is harmful to society as it poses the danger of creating false narratives, repressing minorities, and removing competition from the economic sphere. It also attacks Basic Rights like Freedom of Speech, the public perspective, accountability, and the balance of the country. To safeguard human rights and allow humans to live freely Censorship must be removed from society.  

    Works Cited

    Miller, Blake Andrew Phillip. “The limits of commercialized censorship in China.” (2018).

    Li, Yixiao, et al. “Effects of perceived online–offline integration and internet censorship on mobile government microblogging service continuance: A gratification perspective.” Government information quarterly 35.4 (2018): 588-598.

    Cooper, Ann. “Conveying truth: Independent media in Putin’s Russia.” Boston, MA: Harvard University Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. Retrieved April 28 (2020): 2021.

    Timmer, Joel. “Fighting Chinese Censorship of US Films by Denying Filmmakers US Government Assistance: An Examination of the Proposed SCRIPT Act.” UCLA Ent. L. Rev. 28 (2021): 1.

    Ermoshina, Ksenia, Benjamin Loveluck, and Francesca Musiani. “A market of black boxes: The political economy of Internet surveillance and censorship in Russia.” Journal of Information Technology & Politics (2021): 1-16.

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