Censorship is an issue which frequently generates a great deal of heated debate, with supporters maintaining that it is vital in order to protect society, whilst opponents claim that it is an unjustifiable restriction of public accesss to information.
Firstly, all countries have secrets which must be safeguarded for reasons of national security. For instance, if an enemy country were to acquire such highly sensitive information, the effects could be catastrophic. Consequently, governments have to have the power to restrict access to information concerning areas such as the armed forces or particular aspects of foreign policy.
Secondly, it is often argued that censorship is necessary to prevent the broadcast and publication of obscene material which is considered offensive or harmful to public morals. Many people feel that, without censorship the public would be constantly subjected to material that the majority would find offensive. For this reason, the government has a duty to impose certain restriction on the mass media by censoring films and texts which contain explicit scenes of sex, violence or foul language.
In contrast, opponents of censorship point out that when it is abused by governments, censorship becomes an instrument used to misinform society and maintain power. In order to control the flow of information which reaches the public, repressive regimes try to put constraints on the media, thus denying citizens the right to information owing to the fact that governments believe it may lead them to seek greater freedom.
Futhermore, it is generally felt that mature adults are able to make informed choices about what they watch, read and listen to and should, therefore, be permitted to make their own decisions. For example, some comedians make use of offensive language and taboo subjects in their performances. Critics of censorship argue that the only people who will...