Merriam-Webster defines censor as “to suppress or delete as objectionable” (“Censor”). However, how the word “objectionable” is used is crucial to understanding censorship. Some organizations define it as only objectionable if it poses an immediate threat on the safety of a person or people. Yet others feel that it is objectionable to say anything against that specific organization. Censorship can be used as a method of control, in order to quiet anyone who disagrees.
A very well known example of censorship as a method of control is the George Orwell book 1984. The storyline of the book follows a man who is constantly being censored before he even says anything to be censored. The censorship in his world has become so extreme that those who say something wrong will simply just disappear; the censorship is so strong that the censorship happens by the person’s own mind (SparkNotes Editors). This is the example of a government’s censorship is used as a method of brainwashing of people. This is accomplished by making free thinking a crime.
On the opposite hand, the complete absence of censorship can be very dangerous. For example, a man is planning to overthrow the government. He gets on the radio and publicly announces, “I am going to murder the President, Vice President, the Cabinet, all of Congress, and the Supreme Court. However, I cannot do it alone. I need help. Call me at 555-5555.” If the government avoids censorship so much that they do not do anything about this, it would be chaos. A certain level of censorship is necessary to prevent harm to other human beings.
The United States of America government tries to find a balancing point in these two extremes. This country was based on freedom, which pure censorship does away with. But it is not anarchy; the United States must maintain its laws. Planning to cause harm to anybody is not allowed under freedom of speech. The balancing point is very delicate.
Censorship has its place in government, but there needs to be a balance. People speak out against censorship all the time and speak for freedom of speech. Until they have experienced this extremity, they cannot understand what true is freedom of speech is. However, freedom of speech should not allow for planning for violence openly.
“Censor.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Web. 1 Oct. 2010
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on 1984.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 7 Oct. 2010.