To censor is to suppress communication that is deemed destructive of the common good. Thus censorship is usually associated with the exercise of authority over individuals. In Western society the term dates back to ancient Rome, where control over the moral character of the community was deemed an essential role of government. In conducting the census, the patrician censor excluded from public rights those whose beliefs did not meet the needs of the regime. In modern usage the concept has become rather more complex, seen as central to the well-being of the individual and the community but also synonymous with the abuse of power of governments over individuals. There are two related sets of justifications which structure modern manifestations of censorship. The first set of concerns is embodied in legislation such as the UK Official Secrets Act, a mechanism for safeguarding not only military secrecy but also the everyday running of vital state services. Here the focus of censorship is political; it is a pre-emptive and punitive legislative framework designed to facilitate the everyday governance of the community, through the establishing of a set of proscribed rules and a framework for punishing those who contravene them.
   Other forms are more educational in nature, and have to do with moulding the character and morality of people. This type of censorship takes many forms. For example, contemporary concerns regarding the role of the media are expressed in laws such as defamation, which prohibits speech or writing designed to injure or offend, and obscenity, which prohibits that which is likely to deprave or corrupt (especially children). Legislation of this kind gives rise to an additional form of censorship, namely selfcensorship, the act of restraining one’s expression for fear of external suppression.
   The concept of censorship carries a negative charge, reflecting the centrality of the status of the individual in prevailing Western notions of liberal democracy. The premise of John Milton’s Areopagita, a tract published in 1644 denouncing the insidious prohibition of press freedom by the state, is re-echoed in contemporary debates concerning free expression. The infamous Spycatcher case of 1987 marked a triumph of free speech over state censorship; a government injunction preventing the publication of sensitive material was overturned in the High Court. The emergence of new systems of communication and information distribution has further revived discussions of the proper role of censorship, with concerns focused upon the free exchange of data facilitated by new technologies.
   Further reading
   Kelly, S. (1978) Access Denied, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • censorship — cen·sor·ship n: the institution, system, or practice of censoring compare freedom of speech, prior restraint Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • CENSORSHIP —    Censorship in modern Japan has served as both a political expedient wielded by government as well as a self regulating tool used by the publishing houses. In 1869, the first publishing regulations were enacted, followed in 1875 by regulations… …   Japanese literature and theater

  • Censorship — Cen sor*ship, n. The office or power of a censor; as, to stand for a censorship. Holland. [1913 Webster] The press was not indeed at that moment under a general censorship. Macaulay. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • censorship — 1590s, office of a censor, from CENSOR (Cf. censor) + SHIP (Cf. ship). Meaning action of censoring is from 1856 …   Etymology dictionary

  • censorship — [n] forbiddance; ban blackout*, blue pencil*, bowdlerization, control, forbidding, hush up*, infringing on rights, iron curtain*, restriction, suppression, thought control*; concepts 376,388 Ant. approval, compliment, encouragement, endorsement,… …   New thesaurus

  • censorship — [sen′sər ship΄] n. 1. the act, system, or practice of censoring 2. the office or term of a Roman censor 3. Psychoanalysis the agency by which unpleasant ideas, memories, etc. are kept from entering consciousness, except symbolically as in dreams …   English World dictionary

  • Censorship — Part of a series on Censorship By media …   Wikipedia

  • censorship — /sen seuhr ship /, n. 1. the act or practice of censoring. 2. the office or power of a censor. 3. the time during which a censor holds office. 4. the inhibiting and distorting activity of the Freudian censor. [1585 95; CENSOR + SHIP] * * * Act of …   Universalium

  • Censorship —    During the period of partition, films in the Polish territories were censored according to the laws of the occupying powers. After regaining independence in 1918, the government was in favor of an open market regulated by tariffs and… …   Guide to cinema

  • Censorship —    Film censorship regulations were first introduced in Italy in 1913 by a law that established the requirement for all films to be furnished with an official written release (nulla osta) from the Ministry for the Interior, granted on the basis… …   Historical dictionary of Italian cinema

  • Censorship —    Official film censorship in Spain started in 1912, and remained in place as an explicit system to control artistic expression, enforced in one form or another, until 1977. The power to censor spectacles was held, in the early periods, by the… …   Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”