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Censorship In America Essay

2328 words - 10 pages

Censorship in America

Welcome to America. The land of the free and the home of those all too willing to use that right to its fullest extent. The first nation truly founded on the right to speak one’s mind without consequence, America is now the most prosperous nation in the world, largely due to that very fact. We as Americans are blessed to live in a nation that is thriving both politically and socially, both as innovator and steady power, both as a community and as a collection of individuals. The marks of American society have spread far beyond the nation’s borders, with everything from the Big Mac to Steven Spielberg movies to democracy itself making it’s impact felt on this modern ...view middle of the document...

The Federal Trade Commission, the government agency primarily responsible for regulating national advertising, claims that their form of censorship against the big three American entertainment industries, motion pictures, music recordings, and electronic games, is necessary in order to protect America’s youth, defined by the FTC as anyone below the age of 17. Robert Pitofsky, chairman of the FTC, examines the topic in an official statement to the Senate. “We cannot help but be concerned about the marketing of products containing violent content,” he says. “Scholars and observers generally agree that exposure to violent content alone does not cause a child to commit a violent act. But we are mindful of the question Sissela Bok raised in her book Mayhem about violence on television:
Is it alarmist or merely sensible to ask what happens to the souls of children nurtured, as in no past society, on images of rape, torture, bombings and massacre that are channeled into their homes from infancy?”

Pitovsky and Bok are hardly the first ones in history to question whether being raised on less-than-virtuous images can have an unhealthy impact on adolescents. The great Greek philosopher Plato, whose teacher Socrates was ironically killed for bringing new and dangerous ideas to the youth of Athens, offered a similar opinion in his famous work The Republic:

A young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal; anything he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.

This is the reasoning that the FTC provides when it establishes a rating system that takes away the right of a mature fifteen-year-old to see an R-rated movie, simply because it contains multiple curse words or of a sixteen-year-old to play an M-rated video game, because it contains futuristic soldiers using futuristic guns to kill science-fiction-based aliens. It is also the reasoning that the FTC used four years ago when it attempted to pass a bill known as the Media Marketing Accountabilities Act that, if put into effect, would levy a fine of up to $11,000 on any company that marketed profane and obscene media to underage youth.

The FTC is clearly trying to create a better America through subtle control of what its more impressionable citizens are exposed to. But how much control is too much? Having read the book “Brave New World” by Alduous Huxley I can’t help but notice that the world envisioned by Huxley in his futuristic and satirical epic, and the America the FTC is attempting to create are eerily similar, even if Huxley’s is taken to a much greater extreme. Both focus on governmental control, and in doing so take the pressure off the ordinary people to have to think for themselves. Huxley’s Utopian world takes adolescents and puts them through a molding process, installing into their heads an unflinching...

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