Archived Story

Censorship threatens society

Published 12:56am Sunday, January 6, 2013

It looks like 2013 is shaping up to be a great time for many television viewers. Well, at least it is for now, even as censorship is rearing its ugly head again.

Winter marks the return of many of the fall television shows that took mid-season breaks as well as the launching of new seasons for returning hit programs. But, in light of the tragedies in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., we are seeing an increased push for sanitizing material in the media and pop culture that someone somewhere deems inappropriate.

Now, many of these same shows are being looked at in a different light.

AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” FX network’s “American Horror Story,” and“Justified, ”HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Showtime’s “Shameless” are all some of the best shows on television right now. But since the major networks don’t seem to understand how to make entertaining and compelling shows, these are all on cable channels.

They all also contain varying levels of adult content and violence — you know, kind of like the real world — and other elements that some individuals may find objectionable.

And it is just fine that these shows aren’t for everyone.

The problem comes when one group tries to decide what is OK for all of us.

Widespread censoring of television — especially pay channels — is a slippery slope that may lead to government control of information, book burning and propaganda being presented as news.

Sex and violence have existed since the dawn of time. Trying to sanitize these from our media and entertainment will open a Pandora’s Box of censorship.

Soon enough classic works by Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Thoreau and others will be on the chopping block. How long before someone determines music by The Beatles or Elvis Presley are inappropriate? Maybe television shows like “M.A.S.H.” and “Seinfeld” weren’t as good as we thought they were.

It is amazing what time and lack of context can do to some people’s perceptions of what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Books, television, music, video games and other forms of media are nothing more than gateways of the imagination. They do not make social deviants and they do not cause individuals to enter elementary schools and movie theaters with guns.

We, as a society, must find a way to help those with mental illnesses, protect our children, and keep our communities safe. But censoring creativity, thought and imagination isn’t the way to do it.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.

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