Is Censorship of Visual Arts ever Justified?

Is Censorship of Visual Arts ever Justified?


Censorship is defined by Caso the suppression of speech or the other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive politically incorrect as determined by the government or any other control body (3). Censorship may be justified from the conservative view whereby the free speech can be abused where it undermines the traditional values and social stability as withheld by a particular community.

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Arguments For

One of the arguments for the censorship of virtual arts according to Galsworthy is to shelter children from ideas that may damage their moral development (12). Parents have a sole responsibility of educating their children even before the onset of the formal education. This follows the instincts as well as the sense of moral obligations.Is Censorship of Visual Arts ever Justified? The guiding rule is for the parent is to provide what is best for their children from what they determine and consider being the best. Parents play an important role in the shaping of their children moral political and religious views.  Together with the values and believes held by a particular society parents are able to transmit the cultural values and morals to these young learners. This is achieved when they filter what is best for them to access on within the society and discouraging them from accessing some explicit information which at their level may not be necessary or may harm.

The children choice of education performance, careers and even the hobbies that they choose is determined primarily by what they have when they are growing. When speeches are released to the public the parents have the ability to morally educate their children (Fieser 1). The most intrusive and the harmful expressions of others may justifiably be censored. The parents should effectively censor the information of free speech so as to protect their children from the harmful ideas but should not censor the expression of views from them that are of interest to the adults.  Given for example, it’s important for the children to freely view the role of husbands in marriage from prominent personnel’s whom the society considers a role model. Is Censorship of Visual Arts ever Justified? The speeches that are given by religious leaders are important as the help to instill the religious doctrines to the children who follows a particular denomination (Fieser 1).

Censorship is very important in maintaining government authority which helps in stabilizing the society. The society enjoys freedoms, rights and privileges due to the stability of the ruling body. Without this stability society would lapse in to a state of nature where the lives would be solitary, poor, and brutal and short as put by Thomas Hobbes (Merryman & Elsen 564). The stability of the government and society is always assumed to exist without understanding the causes of this stability. The exposure of the social upheavals poses a great threat to destabilizing the government through free speeches from the opposition and parties.

Since the criminalization of homosexuality in some African states, there have been free speeches that have posed threats to the individual government from the west that need to be censored before being released to the public because they may spark hatred and distrust. Some of the expressions which are offensive attack the traditional values of the society and are considered harmful (Caso 13). Censorship helps to protect these values from attack. Each and every society has its code of ethics, beliefs and values which makes then distinct from others and which dictates the code if behaviors and dimensions of interactions (Galsworthy 14). Is Censorship of Visual Arts ever Justified?This basic values helps build personality of an individual and an attack to these values means a direct attack to the personality. It’s very important also to censor some of the information concerning a particular society to the other who also considers what is being exposed as a taboo or obscene.

Arguments Against

However, censorship of free speech denies the individual democratic rights by silencing and filtering some important ideas in the favor of others. In this case the censored information defends the majority in power which often results in oligarchy. For democracy to work properly within the society there must be an environment that allows free broadcast of range of ideas and debates.  Censorship undermines the efforts to discover new truths and expand the society knowledge base (Fieser 1). The discovery of new knowledge and ideas results from trial and error. To push the boundaries of knowledge we need to explore new ideas which are unpopular. Social ideas such as gender and racial equality humane treatment of the prisoners faces obstacle from the start due to the censoring of information being released to the public.

Through free and open debates such ideas and topics are discussed and adapted in order to enhance justice and knew know ledge.  Censorship restricts the human natural inclination towards self expression and hits to the hearts of our identity (Merryman & Elsen 566).Is Censorship of Visual Arts ever Justified? Restricting the expression of speech kills the power of reasoning, questioning and even justifying some of the ideas that we always withhold in the society. In the discovering of one’s talents it becomes hard for an individual to expose their abilities once their autonomy is destroyed.

From the points that have been discussed above, it can be concluded that it is important to censor the virtual arts but on controlled manners such that the whole of the free speech does not end up favoring particular personnel. Some of the information that is filtered is very essential to the public. For example, all the public sectors need to be transparent. By censoring such information, the public tends to lose confidence with the civil servants in the public offices (Galsworthy 15).  With the rise of virtual education it’s important to expose ideas to the learners so that they can be able to articulate new knowledge and classroom ideas from broader concepts. Autocratic governments are being promoted through holding of information to the public.

This also allows corruption and abuse of the offices. The traditionally held morals and values are sometimes harmful and it’s only through the freedom of speech and expression that these ideas can be shun away from the society. According to Merryman and Elsen, some of the African communities still practice the female genital mutilation; this practice is very harmful to the girls especially when they are unprofessionally attended (568). This act has resulted in death and physical challenges of the many girls within Africa. When new ideas and knowledge are discovered, they can only be spread out to the masses through free expressions of information to the masses.

Despite the arguments against, the arguments that censorship of visual arts ever justified outweigh those against it. This argument therefore supports the freedom of speeches but in controlled manner so as to regulate what is necessary to the public. There should be a control body that is independent of control which should be censoring what is not necessary to the public though the mass media.

Works Cited

Caso, Frank. Censorship. New York: Infobase Publishing Ltd, 2008

Fieser, James. “Censorship: From moral issues that divide us, 2008.” The University of Tennessee Martin. 7th Mar 2014.


Galsworthy, John. A justification of the censorship of plays. London: HardPress

Merryman, John. & Elsen, Albert. Law, ethics and the visual arts. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002