Television Censorship

Essay by GopherHigh School, 10th gradeA+, February 1996

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'Censorship is the supervision and control of the information and ideas that are circulated among the people within a society. In modern times, censorship refers to the examination of books, periodicals, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports, and other communication media for the purpose of altering or suppressing parts thought to be objectionable or offensive. The objectionable material may be considered immoral or obscene, heretical or blasphemous, seditious or treasonable, or injurious to the national security. Thus, the rationale for censorship is that it is necessary for the protection of three basic social institutions: the family, the church, and the state.

Censorship and the ideology supporting it go back to ancient times. Every society has had customs, taboos, or laws by which speech, play, dress, religious observance, and sexual expression were regulated(Microsoft Encarta 95).'


'The beginning of a new legal approach may be traced to the action of the federal courts in the 1930s, when they held that Irish author James Joyce's Ulysses was not obscene and could be freely passed through customs.

The courts ruled that the use of 'dirty words' in 'a sincere and honest book' did not make the book 'dirty.' Since the 1950s many obscenity cases involving books, magazines, and film have been brought before the Supreme Court. In the cases during the 1970s the court ruled that laws against obscenity must be limited ' to works which, taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest in sex; which portray sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and which, taken as a whole, do not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.' The Court has further held that obscenity should be determined by applying 'contemporary community standards' rather than national standards (Microsoft Encarta 95).'...