Throughout my life, I have written endless papers on censorship. All through elementary school, (Yes, I was fervently passionate about my freedom of mind even when I was so young. It all started in 5th grade…) middle school, and high school I was raising my voice above the rest. Every english class and history class (except in my senior year, as I was denied by those wonderful administrators who insisted on speaking to me as if to a child) fell victim to my speeches. I was relentless in my pursuit to get my message out. That was then, but even now I am here raising my voice.
To be honest, my voice is growing hoarse, possibly due to all of the tobacco I smoke, and this is growing ever more difficult for me. So instead of floundering for your attention, instead of being blatantly obvious everywhere I go, instead of clamoring for even the slightest hope for an ear, I ask that we just sit for moment so you can listen to what I have to say on an even level.
Censorship is a very strong word. It is such a strong word that its bound to be censored in of itself at some point. To be honest, the word “censored” is desperately avoided. Oft times it is replaced with more emotionally and associatively neutral words like “removed, excluded, bleeped, and filtered.” It is amazing how commonplace this action is.
But what is censorship? It’s the “removal” of mediums and materials deemed “objectionable” by the censor. Or, in simpler terms, it’s the deletion of things that someone doesn’t like. You may like the content or message of something, but because someone ELSE doesn’t, you are being denied that material… (Sounds like most drug laws, coincidentally enough… “Taxed drugs are good! It’s those OTHER drugs that are bad! Those non-tax drugs!” -Bill Hicks)
Now, to really show you how bad it is, I’ll give you guys a couple of in-your-face examples that hide in plain sight every day… If you have a kid, ask them to bring home their history text book. Normally, I would feel that this would be more than enough, but for those of you who don’t have kids, I’ll tell you what my high school history book was like. First off, the 60s and 70s were only TWO PAGES LONG. The Civil Rights Movement, the Counter-Culture Movement, the Feminist Movement, the Rock Revolution, the British, and the Mai Lai Massacre were all just two-to-three sentence footnotes! I can sum up exactly what my history book said in just a few sentences:
“There was a war. People died. Other people didn’t like it. The Kennedys were assassinated. Nixon turned out to be a crook. Communism is bad. The end. Hey, let’s write 16 pages on Carter and Reagan!”
Let us not forget too that Korea is called the “Forgotten War” nowadays. Let us not forget that all sorts of books and media end up on the banned list every day, despite what Wikipedia says. Supposedly, the last book to EVER be banned in the USA was “Fanny Hill,” yet there are books that are banned by State or the Federal Government. Books like the Harry Potter series (ridiculous, right?), Of Mice and Men, Flowers for Algernon, Brave New World, Most books by Judy Bloom, The Giver (a bloody shame too… this book is what started it all for me), and so many more. Go to your library and pick up a copy of Banned in the USA by Herbert N. Foerstel, and you’ll see what I mean!
You see, Wikipedia is the source of much internet censorship… but I’m falling into my usual tangent, so more on this later.
But censorship doesn’t stop with books and “bad” words on the radio! (Really, they’re just words. They’ll only hurt you if you let them.) Oh no, I would be lying through my teeth if I said that was as deep as the rabbit hole goes.
Television censorship may seem harmless to many out there. In some cases, I would agree. But in many cases, I would have to strongly disagree. Do you folks remember that Bill Hicks stand-up that was censored on the Letterman show, because he had allegedly made a “retard” joke? If you watch that clip nowadays, in its full uncensored glory, you will find that there isn’t a single retard joke in the whole stand-up! And if making retard jokes is so “bad,” why isn’t Blue Collar Comedy and Larry the Cable Guy banned? Yeah, I can imagine censoring content like pornography (but then why aren’t commercials censored then, eh?), extreme violence, and maybe some sexually related content, but I cannot see the purpose behind this overzealous censorship we see today.
Honestly, if you do not like a show, there is a power button on your television for a reason. The same goes for the situations where a kid is watching television, and if you say that you cannot be there all the time, I’ll say “well, you should at least try to be, listen to what your kid has to say, and when you absolutely cannot be there, let your kid know what you like and dislike them being exposed to and give them some friggin’ responsibility for themselves and maybe even a little self-accountability… And stop using the TV as a babysitter. It’s wrong and you know it.”
When I hear a bad word on television I do not worry that some kid will hear it and say it, because in my mind; I see no reason to censor language. When I see a naked women or man on television, I do not get in a huff and fuss about. It’s just a human body, we all have one.
But of all things related to television censorship that I absolutely cannot stand is the level of censorship in documentaries and news! Why is it that every time a documentary on “UFOs” is aired on TV it ends with the scientists and officials claiming that people are just a bunch of “crazy cooks?” Why is it that there are rarely any scientists who believe in UFOs and alien life on these shows, when there are in fact many out there right now? Why is there so many different stories on the simplest of news reportings? (See my article on Russia vs. Georgia) Why is it that the stories change so often on the news?
So let us move on to my final two topics in this little essay here: Censorship in Schools and Libraries, and Internet Censorship.
Censorship in our schools and libraries is, to me, the most atrocious beast yet. If a child cannot freely educate themselves in the land of the free, if a student cannot learn all that there is for them to learn, if a person cannot read or write what they want for the purpose of learning and education in the land of the free, then I hate to say, but this is NOT the land of the free. Between legal litigation and political “whitewashing,” there is little recourse for a young mind in both public and private schools. Even home-schooling is failing thanks to government “nannies” setting arbitrary regulations on every facet of education. Colleges and Universities, even, are not safe from this nasty beast. All of this can only have one result: A very ignorant and very stupid population.
All because the creationists don’t children to be taught this, or scientists don’t want children to be taught that, or the “crazy-nonexistent-political-party-of-randomness” doesn’t want children to be taught this, or the over-concerned-over-reactive-parents foundation doesn’t want to children to be taught that, or the government doesn’t want doesn’t want children to be taught this, or even the aliens do not want the children to be taught that! It is to the point where everything a student hears, sees, feels, tastes (don’t you love that hand-me-down cafeteria food?), or says is controlled to some degree. If they could, I wouldn’t doubt that they would control their thoughts too… And something tells me that not having the ability to doesn’t stop them from trying anyways. (Will do a future article on my experiences when trying to present essays on Capitalism and Socialism in class) On top of all this, YOU’RE PAYING THEM TO DO IT! Public, private, home-school, college, or university, YOUR money is paying for the school’s control over your children.
As I said before, if education isn’t free, then we are not in a free country. “You have been lied to, and it is time to face the facts.” -Jordan Maxwell
So what about Internet Censorship? How do they control the entire internet? Well, my friends and colleagues, they can’t. But what can be controlled is what you ACCESS on the internet.
In the most simplified form I can think of, the internet is made of three parts. There is the user, or you, the ISP, or Internet Service Provider, and the Server, or Data Library. The Server is the part of the internet you are accessing right now; it is made of all of the information on the internet, which is stored on computers with massive storage capacities called “servers.” The ISP is the middle-man that holds the key to the “information super-highway” that is the internet. Then, of course, you need no explanation for yourself.
You see, your ISP, your middle-man, controls everything you do and see on the internet, simply by making websites and data… disappear. They control what information your computer can and cannot access on the internet. Furthermore, the servers have their own controls. For example, military servers only allow access from military computers. In those cases, it is more like closed-circuit internet, where the server isn’t actually hooked up to the Internet-proper, but instead hooked into a pseudo-internet. This is why you won’t find the Department of Defense classified files on the internet somewhere, waiting for some hacker to try and gain access to. This is also why the events portrayed in Live Free and Die Hard (They raped one of my favorite movie series!) are, in all senses of the words, practically impossible.
Anyways, let’s get back to the point. AT&T, formerly SBC, owns Yahoo!, and is one of the nation’s biggest telecommunications companies, serves as an ISP for myself* and many others. But, as with Google, AT&T censored search results regarding Buddhism and the Tibetan exiles for the Chinese government. For those in doubt, this information is widely available across the internet, at your local library, and even Yahoo! and Google confirmed this allegation. So, here we see two forms of censorship on the internet: by blocking access to “objectionable information,” and by filtering search result, with or without your consent. The only way to get past this level of censorship is to remove the middle man entirely, to access the servers directly, and create your own search engine (a surprisingly simple endeavor, I assure you). Unfortunately, this would be very difficult, as you would have to own a private telecom-network yourself, and the overload of traffic would severely hinder any server. For more information, research the Golden Shield Project, or the Great Firewall of China.
But, for the purpose of overcoming telecom/internet censorship, I will tell you all a not-so-well-kept-secret. There is indeed an underground internet. It is totally free, it is totally censorship free, and it is very difficult to track due to its de-centralized nature. Beyond that though, I leave it up to you readers to find out more.
This brings me also, to the note of Wikipedia. Wikipedia does not directly censor information, but rather, the Wiki Community censors information. Upon closer inspection and observation of the gears behind the articles on Wikipedia’s website, you will find a literal war of words. Behind just about every article, there is some group or individual trying to publish information on the article, whether bogus or not, that deserves further investigation, but there is some group or individual desperately trying to suppress said information. The biggest conflicts can be found behind articles like those on Zionism, the Third Reich, Palestine, Christianity, Waco (David Koresh), Capitalism, Mysteries of Babylon, Zeitgeist, Symbology, Religions, and even Censorship (go figure). My point here is NOT to trust ANYTHING you read on Wikipedia without doing some further research, in the very least. Wikipedia is one of the worst resources you could use for any purpose other than quick retrieval of confirmed information that does not fall under the “objectionable” category.
Another quick note, in relation to internet censorship, is digital surveillance. There is an NSA program called “TEMPEST” which is essentially a program to protect computer information transmitted unintentionally and as a part of standard operation, and intercept said information. I do not claim to know much on the matter other than the fact that, according to the NSA, if I were properly equipped, I could monitor your every digital action by monitoring certain acoustic frequencies emitted by various computer components and even your keyboard without any direct connection or any of any sort. That means I could, theoretically speaking, set up an oscilloscope outside of your house and monitor everything your computer does! But as I said, I do not know much on this matter, so I highly recommend you investigate the subject as much as possible, as soon as possible
Before I conclude this article, I would like to meander to one last topic: Video-game censorship and all of the related hullabaloo.
Has anyone else noticed that video games are bad only when it is convenient? For example, the prosecutor for the Virginia Tech shooter claimed that the perpetrator was obsessed with the game Counter-Strike, which, according to his room-mates and police-reports, he never owned. Although before I continue, I cannot see any link between Counter-Strike and a University shooting; the game is about stopping terrorists from planting bombs or stopping them from killing hostages. Further research will show in many cases that violent crime is now commonly being blamed on video games, just as television was before it, and just as suicide was blamed on Judas Priest.
So now we have this conundrum where games are being censored of sex, violence, actions like performing magic or alchemy, and in many cases now, of political or relevant messages. Just like art, books, television, internet, and other media, video-games can be a powerful form of free-speech and expression, but is now being censored just as strongly as the rest.
I’ve heard many (ill-informed) people say that the human brain cannot tell the difference between games and real-life, and produce the results of scientific studies showing that games increase heart-rates, blood-pressure, etc. I would like to point out that gaming is JUST like a sport. Video games require coordination, high-pressure thinking, and fast reflexes. In order for your body and brain to perform this high demand task, it needs oxygen to be more efficient, thus increasing heart-rate, and releasing adrenaline in some cases. Your brain is perfectly capable of telling the difference between reality and virtual reality. Your brain sees it exactly for what it is: a simulacrum of reality.
Back to the point, I would like to ask how sex in games is any different from sex on TV, or on the internet? Every commercial I see has some sexual innuendo, so why is it so bad that it’s in games too? Most television shows I have seen often de-humanize women, making them out to be nothing more than sex-objects, and glorifies violence! So why is it so bad that it’s in video games too? Listen, all of this stuff, is in ALL media, and even in real life. Instead of censorship, instead of complaining, why don’t we solve the real issues at hand? My point here is that before opening our mouths, why don’t we take a moment to look around, because, as Peter Steele put it, “Sh*t comes in all hues.”
Censorship is everywhere. It is one of those things that I so fervently fight against because I personally believe it goes against human nature; it goes against freedom. As I said before, the book “The Giver” is what started it all for me, back in 5th grade. It started me thinking about how control and utopian ideals really become dangerous to human life. Why can’t we just live our lives as we see fit, I began to wonder. So it saddens me greatly to see this book black-listed. It saddens me that other people cannot experience what I experienced when I read that book, and feel what I felt. I really hope that my words have given you a moment to pause and think. I really hope that you’ll join me in this endeavor.
Banned in the USA by Herbert N. Foerstel