Censorship: a Difficult Issue Essay

Submitted By Muntgrumble
Words: 1410
Pages: 6

Censorship is defined as “the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts” but lately, it seems to be going beyond examining content for anything that crosses what they define as “the line” but it seems to involve companies, religious organizations and even the government taking it upon themselves to define what is and isn’t proper or acceptable. Censorship is becoming a huge problem in all entertainment mediums, and is even starting to become an issue in real life as well. The three main types of censorship are corporate, political and religious and I intend to highlight each one of those three as well as offer up my own personal take and suggested solution to the issue.
The first, religious censorship, occurs when either the church, or someone who worships in the church takes offense to a certain work. The grounds on which offense is taken are usually something along the lines of blasphemy, sacrilege or heresy. One of the earliest examples of religious censorship occurred in the late 1400’s when Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press was beginning to catch on in Europe. This caught the attention of the Catholic church, which began to recognize that this was an important invention. As a result of this, the Pope required that the church approve any and all books before they were allowed to be published. Although the church had been censoring books for a long time before the invention and popularity of the printing press, this is when it really began to become clear what a tight hold the church had on different types of entertainment and even knowledge in some cases ("Gutenberg's Legacy"). For example, in the early 1500’s Nicholas Copernicus was just coming to the realization that it would make more scientific sense for the Earth to revolve around the sun, rather than the other way around, as was the popular belief at the time. Copernicus chronicled his theory in a book but being a devout Catholic, he was afraid to publish the book due to the possible consequences that angering the church would cause (Xiang, Jung, Xinming, and Teo). A more recent example concerning Islam, when in 1989, British author Salman Rushdie published his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which was an anthology of three stories, each of which concern the characters having religious experiences. Muslims were deeply offended by various references in the novel, which they found to be either distasteful or full on blasphemous, such as the prophet Abraham being called a “bastard,” angered some Muslims so much that there were death threats made against Rushdie, as well as an assassination order taken out by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Following this, Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for nearly ten years until the condemnation was ended in 1998 (Thompson).
Another type of censorship that has become a problem is political censorship. This is the changing, or otherwise tampering with laws in the name of maintaining morality, public safety and social values. One of the big examples of this is happening and has been happening for centuries in China. One of the big things they attempt to do is to isolate China from the rest of the world. They do this by making it extremely difficult to contact or interview people for use in a foreign publication. Isolating China from the rest of the world has been a tradition in the country for many years, and because of this people in China have gained a sort of fear of dealing with foreign media. It’s even reached a point where, even if someone in China wants to arrange an interview, it may not be able to happen if a supervisor doesn’t approve. In addition to not approving of foreign coverage of things happening in their country, the Chinese government also has strict review policies that public media such as television, movies, newspaper and magazine articles, and even things posted to the internet have to go through in order to be allowed to go public. These reviews occur at both