To censor, or not to censor

December 8, 2015 Blogs, Former Pioneer Staff Print Print

There’s one thing that I see on the internet these days, which I always find fascinating. It’s the type of clickbait advertisement that I will always follow, even as much as I despise clickbait ads.

It’s the articles from Buzzfeed or similar websites, titled something along the lines of, “You’ll never believe they got away with these jokes on Spongebob Squarepants!”

Those articles are interesting to me, because some of the jokes I would have even understood as a kid, and some of them I never noticed. But it is funny looking back in retrospect, thinking to myself, “Wow they really said all that on a show for kids.”

Those are words you hear more often than maybe you should. There are many inappropriate jokes that you can hear if you watch a children’s television show. And to be honest, it can be somewhat unsettling.

However, I am not someone who is ultimately in favor of censorship. The reason is because when we start censoring things, the power of the people goes away. When the government censors too much, we start ending up in a society where the people control less and less of their own lives and opinions.

Working at a college newspaper is a great example of dealing with censorship. Luckily, it is not something we have to deal with much here at OCCC compared to other places. However, I have heard horror stories from people at other colleges and universities in our state.

I once even heard a story from an extremely conservative school in Tulsa, that I will not name, who must submit stories to their administration before they go to print. Students from that university told me they constantly have to scramble to fill spots in their issues less than a day before deadline, because administration flags a story as inappropriate. This even included a case where a feature story about a player on the school’s basketball team was yanked at the last second, specifically because the story mentioned the player having a child when he was not married, and that went against the principles of the extremely religious university.

Stories like this terrify me. From a journalistic perspective, I personally think it is important for people to realize the role of the media in society, as a watchdog over the government and other administration. The purpose of this is to keep the general public aware of what the government is doing and not doing, so that people will know when something is being done that they do not like, and they can react accordingly.

Because of this, universities pulling stories that might even slightly conflict with their moralistic views is no different than a government official demanding that a story about them embezzling money be removed.

However, involving children takes this black and white situation and adds many shades of gray. Many people think it is important to shield their children from all that is bad in the world, and in a way, I can understand where they are coming from.

Some people take it too seriously though. The idea that my children should not learn about things such as the fact that war and sex exist at all is just beyond crazy to me. Similarly, some people think that children should be exposed to everything from birth, and that also seems crazy. I guess personally, I fall somewhere in the middle.

A local example of censorship arguments involves sports, believe it or not. Earlier this year, the Oklahoma City Energy FC soccer team played a game without the support of their loudest fan group, The Grid. The Grid stayed quiet for one home game, after some members of the team’s administration expressed concerns that some of the chants that the group was leading were not family friendly, and the group decided to stay quiet out of protest for their freedom of speech.

For an issue like this, again, I fall somewhere in the middle. If I had a young child, I would not feel completely comfortable exposing them to chants that say, “Put the ball into the net or we’ll go fucking mental.” At the same time, not taking them to any sporting events because of the risk of something like that is too extreme.
All of this being said, children make up the only reason for censorship. People should not be shielded from wars, famine, or any political activity, and it is the media’s job to provide that information of what is going on in the world and government.

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