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The Value of Censorship Essay

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This essay aims to explore the necessities of censorship and the roles it plays in society. It will start by defining the term ‘censorship’ and an introduction to what is and has been censored through different periods of history. Finally, this essay will explore if there is a need for censorship in society with a focus on undesirable material and its effects on children and why.



The word ‘censor’ is defined as ‘to examine and expurgate’. The word is derived from the Latin ‘census’, and refers to the count of the citizens and an evaluation of their property for taxation purposes in ancient Rome. It is also defined as the administration and control of the information and ideas that are circulated among the people within the general public.



In modern times, censorship refers to the inspection of books, periodicals, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports, and other communication media for the purpose of changing, altering or suppressing parts thought to be objectionable or offensive. The objectionable material may be considered immoral or obscene, heretical or blasphemous, subversive or rebellious, or damaging to the national security. Thus, the rationale for censorship is that it is necessary for the protection of three basic social institutions: the family, the church, and the state.



One of the first known examples of censorship existed in ancient Greece, despite its notoriety for its open-minded approach to lifestyle in general (orgies were common and beloved by both the rich and poor). In Athens, where democracy first grew, Socrates opted to sacrifice his life rather than accept the censorship of his teachings in 399 BC. Charged with the worship of new divinities of his own and not acknowle...


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...RT, Richard, The Administration of Aesthetics: Censorship, Political Criticism & The Public Sphere, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1994

3. SMITH, Nigel, Literature & Censorship, D.S Brewer, Cambridge, 1993

4. FISH, Stanley, There’s No Such Thing As Free Speech, Oxford University Press, New York, 1994

5. POWELL, Anton, Athens & Sparta: Constructing Greek Political & Social History From 478 B.C, Routledge, London, 1993

6. GREEN, Peter, A Concise History Of Ancient Greece To The Close Of The Classical Era, Thames & Hudson, London, 1991

7. HEINS, Marjorie, Not In Front of the Children: Indecency, Censorship, and The Innocence Of Youth, Hill & Wang, New York, 2002

8. Asia One, http://www.asiaone.com

9. Think Centre, http://www.thinkcentre.org

10. SG e-zine, http://www.sgezine.com.sg

11. SingaporeArt.org, http://www.singaporeart.org


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