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This nOde last updated January 8th, 2006 and is
(13 Imix (Alligator) / 19 K'ank'in - 221/260 - 188.8.131.52.1)
1. The act, process, or practice of censoring.
2. The office or authority of a Roman censor.
3. Psychology. Prevention of disturbing or painful thoughts or feelings from reaching consciousness except in a disguised form.
censorship (sèn´ser-shîp´), official restriction of any expression believed to threaten the political, social, or moral order. Although most often imposed by totalitarian, autocratic, or theocratic regimes or in times of war, censorship has also long existed in the U.S. Such materials as school texts, films, and literary works have often been suppressed as morally or ideologically subversive by religious organizations, government agencies (such as the U.S. Post Office or elected local school boards) or private groups (such as the Watch and Ward Society in Boston, Anthony COMSTOCK's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, the MORAL MAJORITY, and feminists opposed to pornography). At times, systems of self-censorship (e.g., the film industry's "Hays Code" of the 1930s) have been established to reduce the threat of outside censorship or BOYCOTT. U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 1973 and 1987 granted to state governments the right to decide what is subversive or obscene. Official secrecy, or federal censorship of information about government operations, was greatly reduced in the U.S. under the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (1966), supplemented by the Privacy Act of 1974.
This film is apparently meaningless, but if it
has any meaning it is doubtless objectionable.
British Board of Film Censors. Quoted in: Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion (1984), said of banning Cocteau's The _Seashell and the Clergyman_ in 1929.
The crime of book purging
is that it involves a rejection of the word. For the word is never absolute truth,
but only man's frail and human effort to approach the truth. To reject
the word is to reject the human search.
Max Lerner (b. 1902), U.S. author, columnist. "The Vigilantes and the Chain of Fear" (first published in New York Post, 24 June 1953; repr. in The Unfinished Country, pt. 4, 1959), said of the McCarthy book burnings.
Censorship is never over
for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination
that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.
Nadine Gordimer (b. 1923), South African author. "Censorship and its Aftermath," address, June 1990, to the international Writer's Day conference, London (published in Index on Censorship,, Aug. 1990).
We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation,
become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which
we limit our expression of dissent and wonder "censorship," we call it
"concern for commercial viability."
David Mamet (b. 1947), U.S. playwright. Writing in Restaurants, "Radio Drama" (1986).
Any attempt to hinder the spread of a meme by eliminating its vectors. Hence, censorship is analogous to attempts to halt diseases by spraying insecticides. Censorship can never fully kill off an offensive meme, and may actually help to promote the meme's most virulent strain, while killing off milder forms.
- Memetic Lexicon
Lenny Bruce helps break the language barrier wide open by using the word "cocksucker" and getting arrested for it in a San Francisco night club. This was in 1961, four short decades ago.
His subsequent trial for obscenity in San Francisco is now considered to be a landmark in the fight to preserve the freedoms set forth in the First Amendment. Lenny's attorney is Albert Bendich, notable for having earlier won a victory for Allen Ginsberg in the obscenity case over the poem 'Howl'. "Take away the right to say 'fuck' and you take away the right to say 'fuck the government'."
"You're trying to stop the information! You see, thats where it's at... and you can't! You can't stop the information, because the information keeps the country strong! You need a deviant! Don't shut him up!" - Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce in the film _Lenny_ (vhs/ntsc)
a famous case in the mid-eighties was Jello Biafra and Dead Kennedys release _Frankenchrist_, which included a painting by H.R. Geiger (_Penis Landscape_) which was deemed "harmful to minors". what i never understood was why the controversy never involved the artist himself. another interesting note is that Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, etc. fought vehemently against the Tipper Gore-led PMRC. Dee Snider is currently an Al Gore supporter. i don't blame him, since the alternative seems to be another Bush B.S.... once again, the voting system dictates a "vote for the person that has the best chance of keeping the worst person out" as opposed to voting for who you want in. there should always be a "none of the above" selection, for which it would most always win, therefore forcing another election, and the cycle repeats. this way no leaders will ever get elected, which is fine by me. - @Om* 7/26/00
Videodrome (1982) is probably David Cronenberg's most complex and provocative film, in both form and content. It deals with a vast constellation of issues that infest the late twentieth century: mass media landscapes, censorship, the effect of technology on humanity, loss of stable identity, violent sexuality, mind control... All these themes are woven together in the film via the body-mind of one individual, Max Renn (James Woods).
Renn runs a small cable TV station, Channel 83, which specializes in softcore sex and hardcore violence. While looking to commission a new show, he is intrigued by the latest illicit interception made by Harlan, Channel 83's satellite broadcast pirate. Renn watches a short scene from a show called 'Videodrome'. We see a rust-red chamber, lined with electrified clay, in which naked women are beaten and tortured by men clad in enveloping black uniforms. No plot, no dialogue, no characters, just "torture, murder, mutilation". Max tries to track the show down, encountering an intricate maze of leads, and it is revealed that what he has seen is in fact a prototype of a new TV show to be broadcast in the near future by a large, sinister defence corporation, CONSEC. He had been shown pre-recorded tapes by CONSEC plant Harlan to expose him to a signal which is transmitted together with the televisual images. The violent imagery supposedly opens up neural receptors, allowing the signal itself to sink in, and to eventually induce a tumour (or new organ) to grow in the brain—which in turn triggers bizarre hallucinations. It is also revealed that this Videodrome signal was invented by an eccentric, McLuhanesque media prophet, Brian O'Blivion, who was killed by CONSEC—they intend to utilize his creation to facilitate extensive mind control over the population.
Joyce is acceptable for publication in the United States, rules Justice
John M. Woolsey of the U.S. District Court at New York. The "dirty" words
in the 1922 book are appropriate in context and not gratuitous, he decides.
censorship at times may seem confusing, but it's really quite simple. a common argument is:
"you can't yell 'fire' in a crowded theater."
the reply is obvious. OF COURSE YOU CAN. and you shouldn't be punished for it. it is up to you to listen to the perceived circumstances. is the building burning down? then stay in your goddamn seat and watch the movie. this is a small minded argument and a small price to pay.
the other common complaint, from the other side, is the silly "cries" of censorship when a privately owned company refused to be "balanced" or "objective". if i own a fanzine, it's my right to publish or not publish exactly what i want. i put whatever it is i want on my web site. if you don't like it, or if you feel excluded, then go make your own web site or your own fanzine. better yet don't look at my site... go away. shoo..
if anyone complains about a broadcast, one-to-many medium of tv or radio, then they are at fault for not seeing what that medium truly represents. it is a small, ad-driven voice. don't watch and don't listen. if enough people do that then the broadcast medium will shut down due to low ratings. i don't watch tv, but i do own a vcr and i rent tapes and record shows so i can filter ads.
i focus on personal web sites because that is the best way to see the many-to-many system at work. i have ad-filtering software running so i am not subjected to noise. i seek out what i want, i don't let hype and marketing influence my decisions. if a few break through my filters then i purposely ignore it and go against it.
i don't understand when people complain to a local paper that their voices aren't being heard. let them be biased, that way they can be exposed for what they are. if the L.A. Times shows its conservative leanings, at least the target is exposed, and you know not to buy the paper. otherwise they will hide behind the idea that they are giving a "balanced" reporting, which is b.s. coming from any corporate entity. let the big boys be big boys so you have a big target to shoot at.
the issue of censorship involves personal punishment for voicing or expressing. it is not an issue of refusing to publish someone else's opinion. - @Om* 4/30/00
another issue is violence. please show more. please televise live public executions, to see how barbaric it truly is. people fear that we will regress back to the wild west times of pubilc hangings and lynch mob mentalities... i think the opposite will be true. when i first saw what a slaughterhouse does to animals, what the meat industry has to do so that you can pay your dollar to mcdonalds so they can hide it from you, that is the day i turned vegetarian. no one wants to see real violence. they want to see fake violence. they want to make you believe that when someone shoots you with a gun, you'll actually hear the gunshot. this isn't true. it'll be a silent, sudden death. and it won't be so clean like on the screen. show real fucking violence. those gangs that roam the streets, thinking they are tough because they saw it on tv. when it comes down to it, it's brutal and it sucks - the real stuff. the fake stuff makes you want to go do it, as though it were glamorous. show the skin, the innards, those World War I medical books. show the 32,000 children that died of starvation because of u.s. foreign policy, instead of a couple of tall buildings crumbling, and the nation weeping over it. we caused 7 times that much pain and death around the world that day, but nobody televised that 24/7. we americans are wimps. we want to be sheltered from actual violence because we can pay someone to do the dirty work. fuck that. the only animal i'll eat is the one i can kill with my bare hands. and i'll be the first to admit that i'll puss out, and be proud. i'll go eat my veggies now. - @Om* 9/29/01
"If we let people see that kind of thing, there would never again be any war."
- Pentagon official, on why US military censored graphic footage from the Persian Gulf War
treats censorship as though it were a malfunction and routes around it."
- John Gilmore, co-founder of EFF
The Censors and Their Excuses
Generally, the entities that currently aspire to edit collective human consciousness fall into the following broad categories:
One-to-many information distributors and other legacy media
Individual information "owners"
This would seem to be a diverse list, but my own sense-developed out of years of battling various aspiring Net censors - is that once one has stripped away the superficial particularities of each censorial initiative, there remains one motivation: the retention of power and wealth by the traditionally rich and powerful.
- John Perry Barlow
eorge Carlin interview in _Wired_ (February 2002)
Carlin: The original routine was called "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." I did a sequel to it on the third album called "Filthy Words." That's the one BAI played. Of course, it included all the words. It's just that it took things a little further. That's just my anal side, trying to get the terminology correct. And I apologize for that. "Seven Dirty Words"--which is what The Los Angeles Times called it (I had never used that term, and that became the term it was known by)--was part of the second album, Class Clown. And it, too, was part of a follow-up to something called "Shoot" that was on the first album. "Shoot," I said, was shit with two Os. When people say, "Oh, shoot," they're really saying, "Oh, shit." And I was surprised that I got fired in Las Vegas for saying "shit" in a town where the official game is craps.
Language is one of my loves, and I love bothering people when I am able to, and I wanted to investigate these words and try to lay them out in a logical way: why these seven qualified as ones you could never say, whereas some of them were dirty only part of the time.
Q: Now these were . . .
Carlin: "Shit," "fuck," "cunt," "motherfucker," "cocksucker," "tits," "piss."
Q: That has apparently changed some in the last twenty-seven years.
Carlin: Only a little bit, though. As far as I know, the word "piss" is the only one you'll hear on commercial television with any regularity, and only when it's used as "pissed off." See, we don't mind anger in this country. "Pissed off" is fine.
Q: It's the body function that's irritating.
Carlin: It's all right for one guy to say, "Why are you pissed off at me?" But the other guy cannot say, "Well, because you pissed on me." That's not allowed.
Q: Your lawsuit lingered for most of the decade of the seventies and wound up being adjudicated unfortunately by the Supreme Court, if I remember.
Carlin: That's right, and it was a 5-to-4 decision in 1978, five years after the fact. The decision said that the FCC did have the right to regulate what the Court called "indecent language." It didn't meet the test for obscenity, but the decision was that because these are the "public airwaves" that come into the home unbidden and by surprise, someone might hear them and be offended, so they had some right to regulate. And that, of course, leaves out the fact that there are two knobs on the radio and television: One turns it off, the other changes the station.
Censorship is the use of state or group power to control freedom of expression. Censorship 'criminalizes' certain actions or the communication of such actions - or suggested communications of such actions. In a modern sense censorship consists of any attempt to suppress information, points of view, or method of expression such as art, or profanity. The purpose of censorship is to maintain the status quo, to control the development of a society, or to stifle dissent among a subject people. For this reason, censorship is very common among organized religions, clubs, social groups and governments. However there are been groups fighting against censorship-indeed not representing a minority group correctly is a form of censorship.
Censorship can be explicit, as in laws passed to prevent information being published or propagated, or it can take the form of intimidation by government or even by popular censure, where people are afraid to express or support certain opinions for fear of losing their lives, or their jobs, position in society, or in academia, their academic credibility. In this latter, form it is sometimes called McCarthyism.
Censorship is generally rampant in dictatorships and other authoritarian nations like the United States under George W. Bush. Democratic nations usually have far less institutionalized censorship, and instead tout the importance of freedom of speech.
Some thinkers include as censorship other attempts to suppress points of view or ideas such as propaganda, media manipulation, spin (politics), or disinformation. These methods, collectively, tend to work by refusing the ideas a receptive audience.
Others point out the suppression of access to the means of dissemination of ideas by governmental bodies such as the FCC in the United States of America, or by a newspaper that refuses to run commentary the publisher disagrees with, or a lecture hall that refuses to rent itself out to a particular speaker. Thinkers such as novelist & whack job Ayn Rand consider this latter form of censorship to be an acceptable outcome of the defense of property rights. Contradictions of her position emerge from her disapproval of state backed monopoly license in the arena of radio and telecommunication broadcast and state funding of the arts.
Data havens and decentralized peer-to-peer file sharing systems such as Freenet can be used to prevent censorship.
* Book burning
* Censored Eleven (banned Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons)
* Fahrenheit 451
* Index Librorum Prohibitorum of The Roman Catholic Church
* John Stuart Mill
* Lady Chatterley's Lover
* Media Restriction
* Production Code
* Project Censored
* Project for the New American Century
_Louie Louie_ MP3 by The Kingsmen
Although most of the lyrics are indecipherable, many people thought the song was somehow offensive. Indiana governor Matthew Welsh declared it "Pornographic" in 1964 and asked the Indiana Broadcasters Association to ban it. The FBI launched an investigation into the song's lyrics, feeling they might be subversive. After playing the song backwards and at various speeds, they found it indecipherable any way they listened to it.