If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m a huge liberal. Anything that a Liberal stands for, I probably do, too. Gays should be married. Abortions should be legal. I’m not sure how I feel about pot yet, but after some research, I should have an answer.
But one of my biggest causes that I support is censorship. Specifically, that it shouldn’t exist.
It’s a hard position to defend, because there are so many different scenarios to consider. But overall, to me, censorship is a waste. The freedom of speech should only be limited by common sense, and not based on what the FCC feels is offensive this week.
In thinking about how I got to feel this way, I thought back to my childhood, when the Parental Advisory stickers started being put on CDs (and yes, I remember a time when they didn’t exist. The stickers, I mean, not CDs).
While I didn’t know it at the time, I realize now that the seeds were planted. When the Parental Advisory stickers started appearing on music CDs, I was being told what to find acceptable for my fragile, virgin ears. Never mind that I was exposed to very colorful language back at home. If Snoop Dogg drops an N-bomb on an album, then it is not the album for me.
At first, I thought it was weird that this “offensive music” was appealing to me: this black sticker in the corner is specifically telling me that I’m not allowed to hear this music yet. But somehow my interest in this sort of thing grew, and now that I’m an adult, I can buy whatever I want, no matter how offensive. And I’ll admit, it still makes me smile to hear an uncensored version of a song I heard on the radio, if only to finally hear the swear words I already knew existed.
But this post isn’t about my obsession with filthy lyrics. This post is about the censorship of art. Music is an art form, and by offering censored versions of music, I feel it is a slap in the face to the artists who made it. In most cases, these musicians are pouring their souls and feelings into this music, but just because they drop and F-bomb or two, they need to offer two versions of the album.
I’m a firm believer in words only having the power you put into them. If you are offended by something, it’s only because you chose to be offended by it. Words have no power unless you give power to them. To me, this is nothing but fact. “Infruntist” isn’t an actual word, but if I use it often enough in a certain tone enough, it begins to mean something.
The best example I saw of this in action is an extremely controversial sketch from Chappelle’s Show, called “The Niggar Family.” It was a family of white people with the last name of Niggar. Of course, all of the uses of the word were in the sketch–”Niggar, please”; “I know how forgetful you Niggars are when it comes to paying bills;” etc.–as well as the confusion between the name Niggar and its homophone.
About midway through this sketch, I realized that the word no longer had any effect. It was an effect called Repetition Blindness. The word “Niggar” was repeated so many times that it completely lost its meaning. Any word can do this. Pick a random word out of the dictionary. Repeat it over and over again. It will soon sound like a random collection of sounds, devoid of any meaning.
But it’s not just words. It’s whole concepts that shouldn’t be censored. This week’s posts were inspired by the whole controversy with last week’s South Park episode. Comedy Central, fearful and intimidated, censored the episode.
In Wednesday’s post, I posted a comment from a good friend of mine, and the phrase “art is a revolution” sticks out in my mind. The very fact that art offends people is the whole reason for art. If art doesn’t arouse a feeling in someone, good or bad, it’s not good art. South Park, in this instance, is art. A show that for 14 years has never held back criticism is suddenly censored because of criticism.
I don’t know Matt Stone or Trey Parker personally, but I’m pretty sure that they would gladly lay down their lives for their art, no matter who it offends (and if Matt Stone and/or Trey Parker is reading this, please correct me if I’m wrong).
Bottom line: censorship of art is wrong. Nobody’s freedom of speech in any medium should be limited or taken away. Use common sense: shouting “Fire!” in a crowded room is stupid, but making commentary or satirizing something is Constitutionally encouraged.
Don’t let anyone inhibit your freedom of speech through fear, intimidation, violence, or anything of that matter. Speak your mind. It’s how progress is made.