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CENSORSHIP

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Before you read think over the following questions.

- How has the censorship affected different cultures around the world and your country

- Does the censorship have a positive or a negative influence on modern society?

Views about censorship are of two main kinds.Proponents of censorship take the view that the loss of freedom that censorship involves is a necessary evil because without censorship there is likely to be a far greater loss of freedom than with it. Opponents of censorship argue that censorship itself is a far greater threat to freedom, than any dangers it supposedly guards against.

Those who favour censorship base their arguments on the view that, if left to their own devices, human beings do not always act in the best interests of their fellow men and women. They need to be protected from themselves by governments in much the same way that parents need to protect their children from the consequences of some of their natural instincts. To believe otherwise is seen as at best naïve, at worst plain foolish.

Thus, without censorship, supporters of this view argue, it would be impossible for governments to prevent military secrets from reaching a country’s enemies. Likewise, unless the government has same control over the media, irresponsible journalists or broadcasters would be free to create unrest by spreading false information. By the same token, it is argued that it is necessary to have laws against matters such as pornography in order to protect the rights of vulnerable groups within society, such as women.

Supporters of this general view believe that the threat to human rights would be much greater without the protection of censorship. The means are seen as justifying the end: it is better to sacrifice small amount of freedom. According to their views, there is really no such thing as freedom in the interests of ultimately creating much greater overall freedom, merely uncontrolled opportunities for the more powerful and unscrupulousto exploit the weaker and law-abiding.



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Opponents of censorship accept that human beings do not always act in the best interests of their fellow citizens. They differ from from supporters of censorship, however, in terms of what they see as the remedy. According to their view, the best guarantee of human rights is a society with as few restrictions as possible, much as the role of parents can be seen as not just to control their children but to help them to grow up to be responsible adults. Thus the responsibility for regulating society is seen to belong primarily to the ordinary citizen rather than the government. This view acknowledges human weaknesses, but also recognizes the potential of humanity for self-regulation.

Thus, from this point of view, it is up to the individual citizen to take whatever action the law permits regarding matters such as unfair or inaccurate newspaper, television or media reporting, pornography, and so on. As a first line of defence, citizens have the choice of denying the offending material an audience, simply by switching off or refusing to buy. Beyond this, the argument runs, citizens can use the existing laws of the land against obscenity, libel, slanderand so on, without the need for an extra level of censorship-based legislation. It is also argued by supporters of this view that a responsible citizenry is the best defence against irresponsible behaviour by those set on attempting to exploit their fellow citizens.

Thus, while allowing that there may be times of national emergency, such as war, when censorship is justified, opponents of censorship would argue that it is in generalunnecessary, and takes away from ordinary citizens a role that is rightfully theirs, and gives to government one that is inappropriate. Opponents of censorship also point out that its supporters are naïve in their assumption that governments are always more benign than the forces they oppose. It is only too easy for the censorship to be exploited as a weapon of oppresion by aruthless government.

In conclusion, censorship can perhaps best be regarded as a mixed blessing. It has the potential to protect society from harmful influences, but, equally, it may act as a harmful influence itself. It may be impossible to say whether censorship is ever totally beneficial or not. Much will depend on the circumstances in which it operates. In a society, which is relatively immature and insecure, it may provide much-needed stability and protection. In other societies, however, it may act as a brake on liberties, or worst of all, be used as an instrument of repression and terror.

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<== попередня сторінка | наступна сторінка ==>
Listening 5. Russia's new TV channel labelled propaganda. | Listening 5.1. Clinton condemns Internet censorship.

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