Censorship, good and bad

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Considering the recent news on WB and in general with society as a whole I wanted to address the issue on my own terms.


Is Censorship good or bad?  Well as most would agree it is a complicated topic, filled with a lot of problems and traps to go with it.  Any time you alter or restrict or change what some other person or group wants to say or express you are conducting censorship.  Even when a news outlet decided to narrow down a focus of a story and not cover all of it, they are participating in censorship.  So is this good or bad?


Well in my opinion it is both, even if you have the most pure and unbiased heart, once you are making a decision of what words or ideas and meanings you will block or refuse to allow exposure, you are doing some form of harm at the same time you believe you are doing good.  You have to operate under that knowledge or you are deluding yourself and others as to your role in messaging and delivery of thoughts and ideas and beliefs.


There are countless unintended consequences to censorship.  As an example I offer Donald trump, the news media made the choice to drastically cover only certain aspects of the Trump campaign from day 1, their choices and censorship and to a lesser degree their editing of comments to push a dishonest agenda all made Donald Trump's eventual win possible.  Without the media censorship, Trump would not be the President today.


Now some may say that result was a good one and some may say that is not, my point is not if you feel the results of censorship was personally "good or bad" the point in the censorship itself and the unintended consequences because we all know this is not the result the media wanted.


And that brings me back to the fact all censorship is good and bad at the same time.  Sometimes that good or bad can be small, such as censoring a rabid anonymous poster on the internet who is vile and making nasty personal attacks on other members seems like a good thing, but what if that site was the only outlet for someone to vent their negative emotions and once that outlet was removed they then take their frustrations out on their child or go out and shoot a cop instead?  We have to realize that some people are holding onto sanity with the thinnest of threads and something as small as censoring their expression may be all that is needed to push them over the edge.


Now does that mean the censoring entity is the cause of the intended bad that follows, no, of course not, but we need to remember that our actions even when justified and believed to be "good" can lead to bad things happening.  Even if all you did was hurt someone's feelings that is a major bad result because who knows how that one act of hurt feelings can domino into much larger issues and spreading bad results?  How will this now hurt human being respond to their feelings being hurt?  Maybe they pass that on to others? 



Censorship is never 100% good, there is always a down side no matter how small that down side may seem at the time.


But does that mean censorship is not necessary?  A resounding and loud NO!  Censorship is needed in the human world because we are driven by emotions and perceptions more than facts and logic.  You do not just tell your wife her ass is getting fat, you censor yourself for both the feelings of your wife but also yourself because many women will cut off your head if you tell them their ass is getting fat.  We lie about her fat ass because in society we do not want to "fat shame" women and drive them to depression and bad weight loss habits.  We censor ourselves millions of times every year in one way or another.  When your boss says something stupid, when you stub your toe and do not want to cuss in front of your children, when you are speaking to a cop and do not want to incriminate yourself.  There is no end to the variety of ways censorship impacts us every day.


Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 6, 2017 - 10:47pm
Good thoughts on the matter. My next article will deal with how I censor my article discussion threads. It is nothing new but how I explain it all needs to be diplomatic, this I believe has helped me in how I will approach it. 
Mircea Negres Added Mar 7, 2017 - 2:47am
You made good points, Louis. I do not come on Writer Beat to abuse people because I've had a bad day and think allowing ourselves to be whipping boys (and girls) for someone's relief is not good either. Okay, so if I had a wife or girlfriend and her butt was getting big, I'd say so if she asked because I prefer to tell the truth and would expect the same from her since men's butts are not immune to expansion either... However, people need to better control their impulses and stop lashing out at others when they can't win a debate over issues at hand, because this is Writer Beat, not some kiddie playground where the local bully gets beaten up by his drunken mom so he takes it out on innocent kids. I've seen censorship in two countries on two continents and am not a fan of its use for mind control, but agree it does have good points, such as preventing a story from being published if it jeopardizes national security (like the specifics of what's in the nuclear Football) or identifying undercover agents, among other sensitive topics. Let's keep talking...
Opes Added Mar 7, 2017 - 10:09am
That is truly the point -  Humans are driven by emotions and perceptions. Human facts and logic can be faulty.
This website has competent participants, but full of human frailties, no one is pure in comparison to each other.
All or nothing is not the way to progress. There needs to be ways in which to decide on a case by case basis.  But how?
Billy Roper Added Mar 7, 2017 - 12:10pm
As with government, it's not whether it's small government or large government which really matters, but whether it is our government or their government. The same is true for censorship.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 7, 2017 - 12:18pm
Louis, good comments. 
Unfortunately in the press, context is often lost, which is another form of censorship. 
For example, the press fanned the hysteria when one person was killed by Ebola last year, calling it an Ebola "outbreak".   At the same time it failed to tell us that 30K people a year die from the flu, which is some 100 a day.  Imagine if 100 people died in a week from Ebola, the whole country might have been on quarantine.  They also didnt always say that Ebola was not easy to transmit, and so washing air plane interiors with bleach was not necessary and overkill. 
Dino Manalis Added Mar 7, 2017 - 12:44pm
Educated writers can express their opinion persuasively without using foul language, it's totally unnecessary!  Grow up!
Opes Added Mar 8, 2017 - 9:57am
Dino, the truth of human emotions do seem expressed in various fashions.
Vulgar in language and physical acts is determined not universally democratically, but locally, culturally, etc. Who wants to spit on the culture/society that is thought to be inferior?
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 8, 2017 - 11:56am
Was that an attack on me?  Can you not express yourself without some childish attack telling people to "grow up"?
Profanity when used correctly is a valuable tool in conversation, such as the intent of my use of the word ASS was to push the typical way a Woman may be attacked because of her behind getting larger by a crass and uncaring other person.  I would never personally address a woman in such ways, in fact most of the women I have known and loved in my life would do great harm to any man who dared to speak to them in such ways.
So you missed the point of the word choice, I wish you would have just asked about it instead of going on a personal attack but that method has been getting a lot  of play these days so maybe you were just inspired to go negative and make wrong assumptions by others?
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 8, 2017 - 11:57am
Wonderful reply, and exactly my point of how the media selection of stories and how to deliver them is in fact a form of censorship too.  They deliver for ratings and political impact, not for truth and integrity these days.
Minister Peaceful Poet Added Mar 8, 2017 - 2:48pm
Obviously Autumn liked your post because it's at the top.  I still believe that we should be given the right to block others like you can on facebook.  Will we block those we shouldn't, yes.  Nothing is perfect. But not just freedom of speech is important, our forefathers could not have dreamed of today's tv/radio/interwebs   If they had, they would have concluded the freedom to block others so as not to disturb our own peace of mind.  But that's just my opinion and I hope autumn considers it and finds a way to give us this tool. 
Carole McKee Added Mar 8, 2017 - 3:18pm
Dino: Even though it's possible to write an intelligent article with no foul language, sometimes a cuss word just feels so much better. and I agree with Louis E. Weeks. When used properly, profanity can be a powerful tool. But hey, I write novels for a living, so maybe I'm a literary liberal.
As far as censorship goes, I think it should be personal choice. Every person knows what he or she likes and doesn't like; what is acceptable and what is not. All news should be reported--not just selected portions. I personally don't like that news anchors have taken to choosing sides in matters. 
We still have to protect the kids, but by golly, call me old-fashioned; but I believe it's the parents who should be doing the protecting--not the media and not the government. I get sick of parents demanding that the government, and businesses, make changes to accommodate their kids. They should be paying attention to what their kids are seeing and hearing. 
wsucram15 Added Mar 8, 2017 - 3:27pm
You know how I feel. Although I have utilized my right to free speech most likely more frequently than most people on this page.
It is an inherent right we as Americans possess.  But it has limitations and its mostly common sense. 
But for a time, things were really bad. I guess for some, its better if they vent with words to people they dont know, justified or not.
This site should have a block feature for those above occasions. Thats all.
Opes Added Mar 8, 2017 - 3:54pm
Common Sense for which area of the world? Is that a One World Order common-sense?
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 8, 2017 - 9:26pm
I do tend to agree that "some" censorship is reasonable in most cases, but I also understand this site has been strict on their no censorship stand in the past.  This makes for a situation I do not envy the owner of the site having to make.
Thomas Napers Added Mar 10, 2017 - 5:17am
“There are countless unintended consequences to censorship.  As an example I offer Donald trump, the news media made the choice to drastically cover only certain aspects of the Trump campaign from day 1, their choices and censorship and to a lesser degree their editing of comments to push a dishonest agenda all made Donald Trump's eventual win possible.  Without the media censorship, Trump would not be the President today.”
I couldn’t disagree more with your thoughts about censorship.  For starters, the definition is important “the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.”  Biased on the definition, pushing an agenda is not censorship.  Besides, who are to decide which media outlets have a “dishonest” agenda and which ones are honest?  One thing is for certain, Trump got more exposure than any other candidate, and I would argue higher exposure is the exact opposite of censorship. 
I think you confused media bias wish censorship.  All media will have a bias, after all, media companies are all run by humans and humans have bias.  By successfully painting the media as biased against him, Trump took negative media coverage of him and spun it in a way to help his cause.
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 10, 2017 - 8:49am
"Biased on the definition, pushing an agenda is not censorship."
Sorry but that is not the only definition, another is to block or inhibit something from being heard, seen or read.  Government and military "censors" would deem certain topics or news or information as too dangerous for their society in many Nations, even in ancient Rome there was an official office of censorship, so your assertion is wrong.
"One thing is for certain, Trump got more exposure than any other candidate, and I would argue higher exposure is the exact opposite of censorship." 
All exposure is not created equally, and you really seem clueless on what the point is.  If the media is telling us only what they want us to hear, even if they spread their version of things a lot, that is still censorship if they are erasing or blocking or refusing to allow all parts of the story to be heard.  They are carving out a narrow slice of the pie, the whole pie is not being served.
Let me offer you an example, let's say one of these outlets does a story promoting Adderall.  In that story they cover lots of examples of successful patents using the drug but they also downplay or ignore the many patients who do not see improvement and they do not report the many side effects of Adderall, is that okay?  They splatter the show all over the place giving the drug a lot of exposure so in your mind that is acceptable?
I am sorry but that is not news, that is a commercial promoting a product, and the reverse is also true, when the same outlet censors topics for specific reasons such as political reasons, they are no longer news outlets, they are partisan members of a political party.
Ari Silverstein Added Mar 10, 2017 - 9:39am
Unless you’re making the argument that the press is not free in this country, there is no such thing as media censorship. The media is free to report on any story it likes or not report. Not only that, the media is free to spin the stories or not spin the stories. It’s up to you, the customer, to select the media you believe does a good job and reject the others. So your entire argument hinges on the presumption that our press isn’t free or somehow controlled by the government.
Opes Added Mar 10, 2017 - 9:47am
It should be obvious that there are many people of the sound-bite era that seem to disregard the subjectivity in their daily lives.  Self-Interest is alive and well. It follows that people want to control people in thought and action.
However, self interest is not immoral, it's rather ammoral.
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 10, 2017 - 9:53am
Is the press free Ari?  Who decides what is aired and what is not?  Corporations with loyalties to the Democratic party own or control most of these large media outlets, so who is deciding what the public can see?
Do you turn on your television to ABC news and tell them what you want to see and they show it to you?  Or do they only offer what they want you to see?
I never said Government was censoring, but it is still censorship no matter who is doing it if they intentionally edit or block or refuse to allow access to portions of information.
Le't say information is a pie, they conspire to only provide you with one small slice of that pie that is favorable to their objective and to shield you from the other parts of the pie that does not.  You are only getting a tiny picture of the story because they refuse to serve up the rest of the pie.
The average person can't spend endless hours sifting through millions of websites trying to find the rest of the pie, their knowledge is limited to the tiny slice of information delivered to them by a media with a specific agenda who is censoring out all things that do not match or support their agenda.
Ari Silverstein Added Mar 10, 2017 - 10:17am
Is the press free Ari? 
Who decides what is aired and what is not? 
The executives that run each individual media outlet.
Corporations with loyalties to the Democratic party own or control most of these large media outlets, so who is deciding what the public can see?
Spare me, turn on Fox News or pick-up a Wall Street Journal, clearly nobody gives two shits about the Democratic Party there.  Would you like some more suggestions of media outlets that could care two shits about the Democratic Party?  As it relates to who decides what the public can see, the executives decide, do you have a better way?
Do you turn on your television to ABC news and tell them what you want to see and they show it to you?
No, nor should I be able to wield that type of power over the press.
Look, there is no censorship of the free press and the press is free to deliver its news however they like so long as we have a free press.  You sound like someone that wishes to dictate how the press must behave and that pushes us down the slippery slope known as censorship. 
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 10, 2017 - 10:57am
We have to agree to disagree, you seem to be under the delusion that only a Government can censor.  If the leadership of this site decided to start deleting stories and comments that did not fit some set of rules they had set, that would also be a form of censorship, censorship is about control.
Who has the control?  The average person only knows what is spoon fed to them by the media, and by the way I never FOX didn't also censor, you are ranting at the wrong one Ari, lol, the problem is, FOX is an extremely tiny and insignificant player in the media and news world, the main three of ABC, CBS, and NBC combined have an average of about 24 million viewers for 2016 while FOX and FOX news combined had about 7 million viewers for the same time.  If we add in the radical left cable viewers to the mainstream Liberal Networks you see the Democratic party has about 28 million viewers on their networks while FOX had 7 million viewers.
So my point again is about how censorship in the media is about having control of information and deciding what the public is allowed to see and what it is not.
You can choose to not see the media manipulation as censorship if you like, and I get the feeling that is more based on your approval of how they censor than anything else, but in reality is it.
But let me caution you for a moment.  I spent a lot of time over the last 8 years cautioning my far left friends like you about supporting the new power grabs of the Obama Administration at the time.  The far left was giddy like little girls over Obama using executive orders and massive policy changed in various Departments to go around Congress.  They loved what he was doing so they supported it, but my cautionary message was be careful of the new powers you hand to this President because all future Presidents will inherit those same powers only this time you may not like what the new President does with those new powers.
Today you have Trump, and I see a lot of crying from those same people on the far left about what Trump is doing with his Department changes and his Executive orders, too late to cry about it now.
Today you like what the Liberal media is doing, fine, I can understand that, but /I believe you on the far left are again being short sighted, those same excesses in the media made Trump possible, and other unintended consequences will be seen, and when it eventually ends up biting you on your behind, do not waste time crying about it.  I tried to warn you.
Opes Added Mar 10, 2017 - 1:48pm
Biased "News" does lead to the spread of half truths and partial facts.  There is a fight over who controls information that has caused in part catchy phrases like - "False Narrative", "Alternate Facts", "Fake News", "Real News" where 'SOME' of which either is from sources unknown to the public, mistaken, misrepresented or just plain made-up.
With information overload, the flood of data does seem to obscure or overwhelm, but as mentioned here already, the really bad actors are misleading by omission of detailed and important factors within current affairs.
The concern is that there might be too many people who cannot discern the information they are being fed.  Too many people seem to believe the News to be absolutely fair and honest. 
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 11, 2017 - 12:27pm
I consider The Wall Street Journal the absolute truth. If you object to a story and you are of some significance and not some whack job, The Wall Street Journal will give you space to air your objections, and they have done this for years. The WSJ is the one of few, if only newspapers that I have seen that allows others who object to air their differences, and I consider that the pinnacle of journalism. If it is not true, they will publish a correction. People make decisions regarding millions of dollars with info from the WSJ. I hold their truthfulness beyond reproach. Do they like liberals and progressives? No, not really, but they are still objective journalists who tell the truth.
Dave Volek Added Mar 13, 2017 - 9:16am
Good Article Louis and good insights into the comments. I like your take on the "executive orders" of the previous president. Censorship is a delicate issue. The only thing I could add to this discussion is that when free speech gets too far out of line, the affected party can take the media to civil court for defamation of character.