The art of subversion and suppression explained
As a generalized definition, censorship is viewed as the suppression of free speech and communication of ideas. This is just a generalization however and the practice of censorship is extremely complex.
Censorship is a practice that is carried out by people and organizations in positions of power. These groups of people operate public censorship in order to exercise control and to push a certain viewpoint on the general population. Governments might censor the media to show their actions in a favorable light before an election. Newspapers may only print certain stories or publish a biased viewpoint in order to change public opinion or protect someone. Schools may even censor their student’s learning or internet access in order to protect them from harm. In instances like the later, censorship can actually be beneficial; however, in most cases, it is viewed as unethical and is simply used as a means of control.
Different defined forms of censorship include:
– Moral Censorship (restricting access to morally questionable material such as pornography).
– Military Censorship (hiding important military information from the enemy).
– Political Censorship (Suppressing political parties or withholding information from the public).
– Religious Censorship (Suppressing the ideologies and beliefs of a religious group).
– Corporate Censorship (Media suppression or subversion to alter the perception of a business).
Is censorship a recent development?
Censorship is not a new practice. Censorship has been carried out by the state and governments for thousands of years. Even in ancient Greek times, the great philosopher Socrates was censored and his ideas suppressed due to their radical content (He was actually sentenced to death for his teachings!).
Throughout history, there have been instances of censorship from simple bans on publications, right up to the suppression of political parties during elections. Regardless of public opinion, dictators and those who want to maintain power have used censorship to keep an iron grip on their subjects and squash any forms of dissent.
How is censorship carried out in the modern world?
In today’s modern world, censorship has become extremely convoluted and is considered an ethical minefield. There are few governments and organizations throughout the world that agree on an acceptable level of censorship. In many countries, censorship is deemed as a direct affront to our freedom of speech and therefore not practiced. In other countries, however, governments believe it is their duty to censor their subject in order to maintain the status quo and to protect them from harm.
The most notable examples of modern censorship can be seen through the internet. There are many countries that perform censorship through their internet system and control what information their subjects have access too. The Chinese government for example blocks access to certain websites such as YouTube and Twitter – If a member of the public tries to access one of these sites, they will simply receive an error message.
North Korea takes censorship to a whole new level and allows no access at all to foreign websites. A nationwide intranet is implemented and a list of government approved websites is used that the public can access. It is literally impossible for someone to access Google, for example, using the internet in this country.
As censorship continues to be practiced, businesses seek ways to bypass these restrictions and provide the public with unrestricted access to any form of media they desire. VPN networks are a fantastic tool to help bypass location-specific censorship and are used widely as a means of anonymity and security. A journalist for example that wants to release some anti-government material could use a VPN to protect their identity and bypass any nationwide restrictions on media outlets.