This I Believe

John - Seaford, Delaware
Entered on November 12, 2007

In November 2004, major news network NBC refused to air an ad for a gay-friendly church, saying they didn’t want to offend those who would have found such an advertisement disturbing, ignoring the fact that the cancellation of this ad may alienate the gay community. March, 2006. The popular TV show South Park has an episode re-broadcast cancelled, on the grounds that it was offensive to a group of Scientologists. In the past, this same show has made episodes mocking religions much more popular and widely known than Scientology; however, those episodes were never cancelled. Why? Because, in today’s culture, more and more material is being considered offensive and being banned, showing an eerie similarity to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Though some of this censorship may be justified, the growing problem of suppression of expression in today’s world is of greater magnitude with each passing year; we are not far from reaching the point of no return, where institutions such as the FCC deem everything offensive and block out artists from expressing even the most remotely controversial of ideas, or where the government blocks out documents, claiming them to be compromising. Censorship in the Unites States is becoming far too commonplace.

Now, by no means am I saying that all censorship is bad. Language, nudity, and violence will very rarely bring about any sort of inspiration, yet can still disturb younger citizens. I am most definitely not opposed to the editing of these; it is when important ideas and opinions are blocked, simply on the grounds that they are offensive to some. Is it not true that nearly every concept, every idea, will offend at least one group of people? I have lived the majority of my life with the idea that expressing my opinion is important, and I can surely say that most of these expressions offend people; namely, those with the opposite belief.

The cause of the censorship can be traced to two factors; the oversensitivity being developed by our society and (yes, I’m saying it,) the government. Whether it be a TV show poking fun at Scientology or the 45000 documents the government has re-classified since 2002, the public is being informed of important issues less and less due to censorship.

Censorship is a growing problem in the United States. The First Amendment granted us the right to freedom of expression; it didn’t say we’d have freedom of expression, unless it offended others or compromised the government. The beliefs of citizens cannot be ignored; if a party believes differently, they must either turn the other cheek or speak their own opinions louder. There are many things I would change about America given the opportunity, but this a truly believe: freedom of expression is the most important right given to me as an American, and having that freedom denied is much, much worse than offending a few people with a cartoon.