Do you think it matters?

Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication or other material which may be considered offensive, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions. Not all censorship is equal, nor does all ascend from government or external force. People self-censor all the time; such restraint can be part of the price of rational dialogue. The artist Ben Shahn's poster illustration reads: "You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.”

Governments, private organizations and individuals may engage in censorship. When an individual such as an author or another creator involves in censorship of their own works or speech, it is called self-censorship. Censorship may be direct or it may be indirect, in which case it is called soft censorship. It occurs in a variety of different media, including speech, books, music, films and other arts, the press, radio, television and the Internet for a variety of claimed reasons including national security, to control vulgarity, child pornography, and hate speech, to protect children or other vulnerable groups, to promote or restrict political or religious views, and to prevent slander.

Direct censorship may or may not be legal, depending on the type, place and content. Many countries provide strong protections against censorship by law, but none of these protections are absolute. There are no laws against self-censorship.

There are different types of censorship such as: moral, pornography, military, political, religious and corporate. Moral censorship is the removal of materials that are obscene or otherwise considered morally questionable. Pornography is often censored, especially child pornography, which is illegal and censored in most jurisdictions in the world. Military censorship is the process of keeping military intelligence and tactics confidential and away from the enemy. This is used to counter spying, which is the process of gathering military information. Political censorship occurs when governments hold back information from their citizens. This is often done to exert control over the populace and prevent free expression that might encourage rebellion. Religious censorship is the means by which any material considered objectionable by a certain religion is removed. This often involves a dominant religion forcing limitations on less prevalent ones. Alternatively, one religion may shun the works of another when they believe the content is not appropriate for their religion. Corporate censorship is the process in which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to interrupt the publishing of information that portrays their business or business partners in a negative light.

Today, internet and political censorship are more common. Internet censorship is control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. CNN’s website is an example of Internet censorship. CNN most of the time doesn’t release the full story of what is occurring. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations, either at the order of government or on their own initiative.

The issues associated with Internet censorship are similar to those for offline censorship. Residents of a country that bans certain information can find it on websites hosted outside the country. So censors must work to prevent access to information even though they lack physical or legal control over the websites themselves. (What is Censorship?) This in turn requires the use of technical censorship methods to the Internet, such as site blocking and content filtering. Unless the censor has total control over all Internet-connected computers, such as in North Korea or Cuba, total censorship of information is very difficult or impossible to achieve due to the underlying technology of the Internet. Advanced technology users can often find ways to access blocked content. Nevertheless, blocking remains an effective means of limiting access to sensitive information for most users when censors, such as those in China, are able to devote significant resources to building and maintaining a comprehensive censorship system. In November 2007, "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf stated that he sees government control of the Internet failing because the web is almost entirely privately owned.

Freedom of speech is the right to express any opinion in public without censorship or restraint by the government. This definition misses some critical aspects of our common usage of the term. Americans' freedom of speech is supposed to be protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. In contrast, a person cannot go into a crowded movie theater and yell fire. A person will be penalized for doing so, but the United States guarantees freedom of speech.

Media involving the promotion or undertaking of criminal activity, threat, malice or the promotion of illegal and damaging ideas with the intent to cause harm. Although there exists a vast amount debate with regards to the depiction of criminal activity for entertainment purposes in contrast to those media outlets that are deemed to glorify that same activity, the law enforcement agencies are responsible for the regulation and classifications of media censorship.

In conclusion, censorship is vital to how things are ran. It helps to protect the people and important information but where is the line drawn? Who determines what is right or wrong and what is fact or fiction? It is important that the country's secrets are not open to just anyone to see and that lies are not spread without consequence. To some, censorship is very suppressing. It infringes on their freedoms guaranteed in the first amendment is what they claim. This point of view can be understood. It is difficult for people to know that they have the right to say what they want to say and then be told that they can not say it. So the question remains, who can tell another what they can not say? Is it truly fair? How far can it be pushed before it truly is infringing on their constitutional right?

Things such as riots and protests are often up for scrutiny. People are free to voice their opinion in these ways, but even then there are regulations. Even when having a public thing like that, it has to be approved of. Another situation is censorship in schools. There was a large public debate on whether or not the schools should have access to middle schoolers personal social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram. This sparked the controversy. Students felt that it was unfair and thaIt their accounts were their personal and private place to post and say things that they want. When it came to the parents, it was split. Some believed that it was unnecessary and an insult to their parenting. If there was a serious enough issue, then they would handle it within the household. Others felt that it would be a positive thing. It would help keep their children from posting certain things. The school's overall reason for wanting to do this was to prevent cyberbullying and to keep students from being on their phones so much during school hours.

In some aspects, censorship is completely justified. It keeps children from being exposed to certain things, keeps important business’ in business, and keeps the lies from being louder than the truth. Censorship helps to keep some of the peace necessary to run this country. It keeps things appropriate and helps us to uphold the values that we care about most. However, freedom of speech is something this country was literally founded on. It is important to keep the two separate and balanced. Freedom of speech is one thing that people admire about our country but with any other thing, it also has its downfall. In reality, it is hard to picture one without the other. Boundaries are important. Americans love their freedom and it should be respected but the respect should also be reciprocated.

All in all, one can not be had without the other and it is important that they are equally balanced. Balance is key and will keep the country working as it is used to.

Cover Image Credit: Wordpress

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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