Censorship – How much is too much?

In 2008, an editorial published by the St. Louis Dispatch published an article on the idea of censorship both in cellphone service and on the internet. While I had heard of many cases of censorship in print, on television and radio, I had never really considered the idea that cellphone services could censor what the owners who have the service are able to receive messages from.

The story talks about how Verizon tried to prevent those with the service from accessing text messages from a pro-abortion-rights group, NARAL.  While Verizon stated that they try to “‘”promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of [their] users, ‘” it was determined that Verizon could not do this because people had to receive messages from the group. By preventing NARAL from doing what it set out to do, Verizon was infringing upon the group’s right to free speech.

Had it not been for the censorship of internet use in China (like some of what we also read about) I might have been more surprised about this too. Here in the United States, I don’t think the people would stand for censorship on the internet of any kind. I feel as if we are almost spoiled. The article we read on Chinese censorship on Google mentioned that the communist government encourages Internet use for business and school, but wants to prevent the people from getting material that can be seen as “subversive or pornographic.”

Could you image if here, in the United States, the FCC or Congress tried to take away this type of material? There would be an uproar. We would fight, saying that our right to free speech was being violated, and ultimately, the mass would most likely win the fight.

This is what is so great about America, but also terrifies me slightly. Because we are so fervent about our right to free speech, how do we determine how much is too much? And for that matter, how will we learn to be modest and reserved about our beliefs when we fight so hard to say what we believe? Will there be a time when people do not agree upon an issue and somehow things will spiral out of control into chaos?

A friend of mine posted this link on her Facebook page. It is a website which discusses the porn industry and the websites, specifically one entitled “Ghetto Gaggers” in which men degrade and abuse African American women. While I’m all for people having the right to satisfy themselves through pornography, sites like “Ghetto Gaggers” need to know their limits. I think, honestly, this kind of mistreatment of women needs to stop and if the way to do that is through censorship, then so be it. It’s disgusting.


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