With the current advancements in all sectors of the society, there is a need to control circulation of ideas that may be harmful to the lives of people in the world. Censorship is managing of information that flows in the society. Through history, censorship has been a subject of dictatorship. The 21st century society has achieved this, as it was able to examine all sorts of information that reaches the entire society through any means. According to Bauder (87), there are various reasons that justify the existence of censorship in the society. Some of the reasons include the removal of obscene and blasphemous ideas, or ideas dealing with treason. It is evident that not all forms of censorship are equal, and not all forms have the same origin. The sources of censorship include self-government or external sources. To get further knowledge on censorship and the need to censor, it is important to remove the label that has been attached to it. An individual should realize that essentiality of censorship dates back to the ancient times when all societies had rules and regulations that governed their speech, dress code and relationships. These rules played a critical role in ensuring that the society lived in peace throughout its history. Censorship has been used in various countries of the world to foster various ideologies. Plato, a Greek philosopher, was the first to introduce censorship of various ideas. Censorship gives room for punishment of individuals who in one way or the other utter evil speeches in public. Abrams (165) says that there is an extent to which campus censorship infringes on the First Amendment, an act that grants freedom of expression.
It has been evident that sometimes free speech given by students clash with the school’s main objective of keeping control over the way the general student populace is educated. Des Moines, a renowned thinker, together with the self-regulating school district played a crucial role in availing student’s liberties granted by the First Amendment. The act provided that a student was free to carry symbols, such as an arm band, to protest against injustice in the society, such as the Vietnam War. Various cases forwarded by the school community pointed out the need for censorship on campus. ‘In Hazel Wood, a school principal was granted a chance by a court of law to extract some articles from the school’s publication because to him the information was harmful to schools’ continued role in the educational process. Some parts of these articles had information on teenage pregnancies in schools, as well as emotional feelings of students whose parents have divorced (Souza, 254). The court proclaimed that a school’s publication is not a site for individuals to post their opinions on public affairs. They gave the school officials the authority to determine the kind of information that should be published in school journals. There was also a ruling three years after the Hazelwood ruling that was based on Planned Parenthood. A school had sought public commercials from businessmen around the school community. The adverts included the one from Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood filed a suit against the principal for his refusal to place their advert. Here, the court decision favoured the school citing the fact that a school publication is not a forum where the public can post their adverts. The school officials, therefore, were free to decide which posts should feature in their publications. From these rulings, the general public saw that school districts apply some form of censorship.
Public universities in the US apply various rules and regulations to control freedom of speech. To them, students should seek to use proper choice of words so as not to harm or disrespect others. Though freedom of speech is a fundamental right provided in the constitution, some public colleges and universities may prohibit the use of certain words that provoke violence or threats. They may also forbid the use of obscene language and defaming statements. However, they prohibit all these without actually altering the First Amendment Act. There are various cases that have arisen contesting some of the prohibited acts, also termed as unconstitutional. At the University of Michigan, censorship prohibited various discussions on biological differences between opposite sexes and different races. In this case, the court ruled that the university’s constitution had not infringed on the First Amendment Act, since students were allowed to speak about various other things. At Wisconsin, a student was taken to court for yelling rude remarks at a woman. The university’s clampdown on the freedom of speech, in this case, was also overruled as being excessive (Wilson, 145). Years after the Fraternity Brothers were taken to court for dramatization of an ugly woman contest, it was found that the accusation of the Fraternity Brothers was against the First Amendment Act. This is because they did not take them to court for their conduct on stage, but because of the message that was conveyed. To them, this was against their policies.
Campus censorship also includes the use of the Internet. In most universities, students are not allowed to view pornographic videos. Students use the Internet as their main tool of gaining or spreading information. The censorship of communication through the Internet is slowly taking root in various universities of the world. This despite the fact that reality is a complex exercise, which may involve all stakeholders in the field of networking. In most campuses, it is a criminal offence to view or distribute pornographic materials. Some sections of the universities’ constitution are being altered to include the law that governs such kind of materials.
Students on campuses are described as the most powerful informative population. They have the ability to participate in various forums where they engage in conversations over various matters. The First Amendment allows for freedom of expression, and that is what most students use during their public forums. They take the opportunity to air their grievances and also seek for various needs that they feel should be addressed. Introduction of censorship on campuses is detrimental to this. It plays a crucial role in denying students freedom of speech. Campuses have used the presence of censorship as an opportunity to deny students a chance to air their grievances.
Pros of Censorship
There have been various disputes over whether prohibiting information is a good or bad idea on campuses. There are several advantages of censorship of information. First, censoring pornographic materials is advantageous in avoiding corruption of young minds. Students on campuses are young, and even if they are able to control their behaviours, pornography puts them at a great risk of engaging in sexual immorality. Human beings can be consumed by emotions, and some may want to try what they see in pornographic movies. Some of pornographic materials are just graphics, but people may think that they are real and they will end up indulging in these activities. Censorship, therefore, prevents such kind of behaviour.
In a culturally diverse community, censorship plays a key role in maintaining peace and unity. The USA is a country where people of various races live, and it is important to maintain multicultural policy, which aids in preventing conflicts between certain communities. Words are commonly known to hurt, especially when they are directed to members of a minority group in society. The main focus of multiculturalists is to nurture and not to separate a minority group of students. They strive to do away with racism and gender biases in the society, as well as in the minds of the minority population. Censorship of any information that is detrimental to the task of multiculturalists plays an essential role in nurturing minority groups in society.
Censorship helps in preventing public display of impertinence towards an individual or a group. On campuses, students may dislike a particular idea that has been proposed by a leader. If it is against their wish, they may decide to be opposed to it, and even go so far as to disrespect the authority. For example, in CaliforniaStateUniversity a student was putting up fliers advertising a speech that was supposed to take place the following night. The speech was intended to incite hatred against some educational programs for black students in the USA. This was to be done by launching a book written by Weaver which analysed the programs and linked them with slavery. When he arrived at the multicultural centre, the black students persuaded him not to deliver the speech by claiming that the material was abusive and discourteous. They quoted the fact that the flyer was a reason to alarm the police, as there was a possibility of demonstrations.
Censorship also guards the mores of society (Arthur, 56). Some campuses have introduced rules and regulations to govern the behaviour of students towards their teachers, dress codes and drug abuse. In most protestant universities, there is a specific dress code for students attending classes. Students are not allowed to show any kind of disrespect towards their teachers or use drugs in a classroom environment either. These regulations have made campuses a place where genuine morality is preserved. This is because students being admitted to campus are not chosen based on their religious beliefs or the fact that they are drug addicts. Censorship of this kind helps maintain order within an institution and ensures that learning takes place as intended.
When topics related to sex are fully censored, it becomes very hard to instruct students and young people about the dangers posed by HIV/AIDS. In most institutions, sex-related topics are censored. According to their administration, availing this information makes the students vulnerable to the issues discussed, which include engaging in sexual activities at an early age. It should, therefore, be noted that HIV/AIDS spread fast on campuses, because students have not been given an opportunity to consider the possibilities of engaging in safe sex. Abortion cases among campus students are also on the rise. This statistics are attributed to censorship of sex-related information in the institution.
Censorship has encouraged the emergence of a number of dictator-minded individuals in educational institutions. They use this opportunity to promote themselves by using eloquence, and thus doing away with any negative image they may have. For example, at the CornellUniversity, an article that, according to the university administration, was defamatory was censored. The article spoke about the blacks as the most violent group of people as opposed to their white counterparts. The article also cited instances of black students being violent in the university, and issued a warning to the white students to be careful. It was seen to be promoting the acts of some of the leaders of the university administration and student governance, who were trying to silence the conservatives. A professor of African-American History at the CornellUniversity saw this article as a tool that some of the leaders use to justify putting the blacks in prison. The professor saw this act as an effort to infringe on the freedom of speech. He also linked it with the infringement of the First Amendment Act with respect to the blacks. According to Oberst, it is clear that, in the American society, blacks are not given an opportunity to defend themselves against any form of violent activity that they are engaged in. When black and white students are charged with the same offence, the possibility that the black student will be jailed, and the white student let free is high. High-ranking academic officials also use censorship to protect their reputation. In an institution, where a member of administration wants to impose some unfavourable rules that were not initially in the constitution, censorship becomes a powerful tool to foster these acts. Silencing students ensures that they do not get an opportunity to engage in public forums and discuss the pros and cons of the idea. Those who want to initiate discussions are silenced by their counterparts for fear that they will be charged with incitement and going against the constitution.
Censorship infringes the First Amendment Act, which gives students freedom to air their grievances. The act stipulates a clear need to encourage freedom of expression for students. Censorship has turned most of the universities’ forums and publications into sites, where information regarding student affairs only is allowed to be discussed or published. There are students, who have suffered broken families, sexual assault and HIV/AIDS. This group of students would like to share what they are going through with their peers. Censorship prevents them from doing so by making them vulnerable. They then turn to drugs as an option to suppress their negative feelings. Censorship also infringes on the freedom of press. When a university publication is given restrictions on where to get advertisements from, this restricts their freedom of speech. Censorship is closely linked with dictatorship. It is a tool used by those in power to rule the populace. For example, when there is censorship of blasphemous information against an individual in power, it means that the ignorant few will never know the evils that the individual is carrying out. The society will then continue to rot under the leadership of dictators. Censorship on campus kills creativity. The case of Fraternity Brothers, who were charged with dramatizing a pageant contest, reflects the extent to which restrictions on campus harm creativity. Censorship gives rise to and conceals human rights’ maltreatment. Since people are not permitted to air their views on a certain public matter or private offences, their rights are infringed. When a university student wanted to enlighten the black students on the effects of some programs that, to him, are linked to slavery, the act was termed as unconstitutional and going against the multicultural policy of the institution.
Censorship on campus has turned out to be enveloping and invasive. It focuses mainly on highly inconsequential offenses (Roleff, 143). This does not imply that censorship on campus did not exist in the past. Censorship is a persistent issue; the urge to prevent the airing of information that is harmful or you fear might affect your reputation is almost primordial. This particularly true of individuals holding high offices and those involved in politics. There are some benefits of censorship but its negative effects have a harmful consequence for the student fraternity at large. It is essential for all the stakeholders involved to discuss the effects of censorship in high academic institutions and the extent to which it should be carried out. This is done keeping in mind that campus students are of age, and they have a right to knowledge on varying issues. Censorship is bad as it infringes on the freedom of expression.