By medium: censorship and books - censorship and films - censorship and internet - censorship bibliography - censorship and music
Key text: Taboo: Art Censorship () - Matthew Hunt
Related: banned - ethics - forbidden - freedom of speech - law - morals - offensive - obscene - prudishness - prurience - social - subversion - taboo
Most frequently censored: sexuality - violence - nudity
By region: The Danish experiment - American censorship
Cinema Paradiso (1989) - Giuseppe Tornatore [FR] [DE] [UK]
Six, five, four, the numbers wind down. And there, on the reel, are all the expurgated scenes from the movies of his childhood: All the censored kisses. All the censored passion. All the censored life. --http://www.pbs.org/newshour/essays/jan-june02/censor_1-30.html [Dec 2004]
Book burning, May 10, 1933, Berlin
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 social groups, organized religions, corporations and governments. However, there are also numerous groups which oppose censorship.
Censorship can be explicit, as in laws passed to prevent information being published or propagated (as in Australia or China where certain Internet pages are not permitted entry), 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 regarded as a typical feature of dictatorships and other authoritarian political systems. Democratic nations usually have far less institutionalized censorship, and instead tout the importance of freedom of speech.
Some thinkers understand censorship to include other attempts to suppress points of view or ideas such as propaganda, media manipulation, spin, disinformation or 'free speech zones'. These methods, collectively, tend to work by disseminating misleading information, preventing other ideas from obtaining 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, the CRTC in Canada, 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 philosopher and novelist 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.
Wartime censorship is carried out with the intention of preventing the release of information that might be advantageous to the enemy. Typically it involves obfuscation of times or locations, or delaying the release of information (e.g. the objective of an operation) until it is of no possible use to enemy forces. Mention of weapons and equipment (especially if newly introduced) is another favourite area for censorship. The moral issues here are somewhat different as release of the information carries a high risk of increased casualties among one's own forces and possibly loss of the overall conflict. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship [Aug 2004]
Selected censorship incidents--http://www.caslon.com.au/censorshipguide13.htm [Feb 2005]
1497 - Savonarola promotes 'bonfire of vanities' in Florence
1558 - 'fig leaves' added to Michelangelo's Last Judgement
1573 - Veronese ordered to 'correct' his Last Supper
1832 - Daumier punished for caricature of Louis-Philippe by six months in prison
1873 - Comstock Act in US
1898 - Klimt's Vienna Sezession 'Minotaur' poster emasculated
1918 - UK ban on reproduction of CR Nevinson's Paths of Glory
1933 - Rockefeller Center mural by Diego Rivera destroyed after featuring image of Lenin
1934 - Cadmus' The Fleet's In! withdrawn from PWAP exhibition at Corcoran Gallery in Washington
1938 - Entartete Kunst exhibition in Munich and further purging of official collections in Germany
1961 - suppression of Siqueiros murals in Mexico City
1964 - Warhol's Thirteen Most Wanted Men mural at New York World's Fair painted over
1989 - Corcoran Gallery cancels Mapplethorpe exhibition
1997 - 'Piss Christ' controversy at National Gallery of Victoria
2001 Taliban destroys Bamiyan sculptures in Afghanistan
Caslon Analytics censorship and free speech guideThis guide explores censorship, regulation of offensive material and free speech in the digital environment. It includes discussion of freedom of information, archives and whistleblowing legislation. --http://www.caslon.com.au/censorshipguide.htm [Feb 2005]
Feminists against censorshipThe media may have given you the impression that feminists support moves to censor sexual media, so you might be surprised to know just how many feminists out there have been actively opposing such censorship since long before there was an Internet. And we still do. --http://www.fiawol.demon.co.uk/FAC/
Why have feminists historically opposed censorship - particularly of material with sexual content? Because no matter how we are assured that the censorship is meant to protect us, the targets of such censorship invariably turn out to include feminist ideas and ideals, information that benefits women and challenges sexism. --Carol Avedon
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