Archive for August, 2006

Media Censorship

As an adult, censorship in the media offends me greatly. As an adult I am perfectly capable of deciding for myself what I do or do not find offensive, and I am perfectly capable of changing the channel if I see or hear something on the television that I find to be offensive to me. I do not need any corporate overlords deciding for me what they think I will be offended by.

As a parent, I am perfectly capable of deciding what my child should or should not watch, based on his age. Yes, I know this is a form of censorship, but I only do it to keep him from being exposed to things he shouldn’t be exposed to when an adult is not there to explain things to him in a way he’ll understand. I believe in restricting him from things that are not age appropriate, such as shows with violent content, abusive language, etc. This is only because he is not old enough to fully understand what he is seeing. Even though he knows it is not real, I wonder if he really gets it sometimes. I’m sure he does, but I choose to err on the side of caution.

All that having been said, though, I do not plan to censor his viewing options forever. At some point in the not too distant future, I expect that the multitude of information and entertainment available on the television will be completely available to him. And I hope that by that time, he will understand the difference between reality and entertainment, and not think what he is seeing on most television shows is not real, including what is often portrayed by the news broadcasts.

Censorship in society is harmful to the citizenry of the world. We learn and grow as a society by being exposed to many different ideas, even those that are offensive. If we are prevented from being exposed to those ideas, usually by a small minority of narrow-minded people, then we as a society suffer.

Online Censorship

Recently, on a blogging site, a friend’s account was configured in such a way such that any comment I made to postings on her blog, or comments to other comments, were automatically screened. Screening is when a comment is not visible to the general public until the owner of the blog gives the comment his or her blessing, and only then can the comment be seen by those viewing the blog.

I guess she didn’t like the comments I left as a reply to the blog entry.

I have a problem with censorship, be it online chat rooms, blogs, television shows, books, magazines, or whatever form of media I am currently engaged with. As an adult, I feel that I have the right to be able to say whatever I am feeling, without being censored by anyone. In fact, a lot of people have died in more than one war, to guarantee me that freedom. When I get censored, I feel like my rights are being suppressed, and that those brave men and women fought in vain.

If I say something that is factually wrong, or emotionally inconsiderate, or I am merely being an ass, then others also have the right to tell me I am wrong, preferably with some proof, or to tell me I’m being an inconsiderate ass, or whatever the other readers think of what I am saying. And I am fine with that. That is what living in a free and democratic country is all about.

What does offend me is when my comments are censored, and no one is given the chance to publicly tell me I’m being an ass, or I’m wrong because I didn’t know about some piece of information that proves me wrong. Or even more offensive, having my comments simply deleted, because the owner of the blog, or the moderator of the chat room, or whomever is in control of the site I am posting to, decides arbitrarily that my comment offends them in some way.

Freedom of speech means freedom to be offensive. It also mean the freedom to be wrong. In either case, censorship takes away my rights, and the rights of others, and I will always be strongly against adults of any society being censored.

Update:

It seems that there was a problem with my friend’s blog, and somehow those who were supposed to have unfettered access didn’t, and those who were supposed to be blocked / censored weren’t. The problem got corrected and everything is well again. The sentiments above are still valid, even though this particular incident was accidental and not actually a case of censorship.

Stephen Harper and the AIDS Conference

I am going to jump on the bandwagon also, and condemn Mr. Harper for not attending the AIDS conference recently held in Toronto. Yes, I know that Tony Clament, the Minister of Health was there, as he should have been. However, this is not just some discussion group we are talking about. This is a major, internationally attended, event. Bill Clinton could find time to attend. Bill Gates could find time to attend. But Mr. Harper couldn’t find a single day to make an appearance. He didn’t even have to attend the entire event. That is what Mr. Clament should be doing. But why couldn’t he make an appearance, shake hands with Bill and Bill, make a speech, and then head back to Ottawa and the business of running the country.

This will rank up there, in my mind at least, as being only slightly less dumb of a PR blunder as when Former PM Jean Cretien decided not to attend the funeral of Jordan’s former king, King Hussein.