On Censorship

Censorship, to many, may not appear to be a current issue if you believe that as First Amendment allows freedom of speech and freedom of the press, everyone is free to say what they please. Although this may be true to an extent, people continue to be censored in more minor ways whether that is being advised to not write about a certain topic or being told that their opinion is inappropriate for a certain situation. This type of silencing is dangerous, especially to minority groups that often have their voices censored. As I have been given this platform on which I am not censored, I thought I would reach out to my peers about their feelings towards censorship, how it may have impacted their lives and what it says about the world around us. The following are their responses.

I was surprised to see the variety in responses I received regarding censorship and freedom of speech. It made it clear to me just how large of an issue censorship really is, spanning several platforms and people of different ages, perspectives and lifestyles. The first major takeaway was that restriction of the press is unfortunately common within today’s world, with a general feeling of distrust towards the media we are presented.

“We have already begun to doubt the credibility of those who deliver information to us, so it’s dangerous to move onto the next step of controlling publications to only reflect a specific set of opinions rather the true facts as well as a genuine diversity of viewpoints. Journalism is a form of reviewing actions of people with power to ensure that they don’t have the ability to do whatever they want, but that journalistic power is slowing being eliminated in a very apocalyptic way.”

-Kendall Lauber

Several of the people I talked to are writers, people who have seen the consequences of censorship. Even if they themselves hadn’t been censored, it becomes hard not to fear that one day their words could also be silenced.

“As a writer, I think freedom of speech is so crucial especially in the political climate today but it’s also very necessary that we teach kids and even adults how to civilly discuss differing opinions with one another.” -Anonymous

When the conversation of censorship is raised, we must ask: What are the consequences? How can the lack of freedom impact the society around us?

“Trying to restrict that harms people because they may not have the words to describe themselves and it might cause mental health difficulties because all they know is they feel different and if they can’t access these resources it might make them feel more distressed and out of place.” -Em

“I think that it hurts people because they feel their voice isn’t valued and appreciated, and this could cause them to act out in different ways.” -Anonymous

“Censorship is never okay, but especially not when it alienates a population. Silencing people’s voices is not safe morally or legally.” -Maddi Montgomery

Connecting this topic to other places in the world experiencing censorship on a larger scale, we can see even greater impact.

”I study Korean culture and literature, so if you take North Korea as an example, their literature wasn’t always censored. Because of this censorship, creativity and innovative thoughts are becoming lost. Since this law, stories have become repetitive, predictable.” -Megan

Others questioned the media platforms that people use on a daily basis, and if they are also contributing to the problem. What if we have a false sense of how public our opinions are made on social media?

“Recently I’ve noticed that any sorts of post or story I make that’s about my political view or just supporting progressive people in general never gets the same amount of views or likes compared to when I post a picture of my family on the beach. It just makes you wonder if the algorithm is really just the world’s biggest form of censorship.” -Maggie Schmitz

However, more than any other responses, people wanted to proclaim how crucial freedom of speech is. Understanding other cultures and perspectives is paramount to growth. When that is taken away from the public, we only see what the people in charge want us to see.

“I was able to more fully understand my friends’ perspectives on any topic, from reproductive rights to music taste. Being allowed the freedom to publish an article can offer an explanation, or even an outstretched hand, to others who may not even know they need it.” -Hannah Lehman

”I understand it gets a little messier when it has to do with a publication or media with certain beliefs backing its articles or stances. But how are we to know what the people of a community think if we don’t allow them to speak out?” -Anne

“It’s important for our voices to be heard and if I can do anything about it I will stand up for those who are being censored and hushed so that their voice and message is heard.” -Sarah Hidy

Throughout all of these comments, the main message is abundantly clear:

“Censoring is never the answer.” -Anonymous