On a rainy morning in Detroit, Michigan, a twenty-something year old man by the name of Marshall Mathers awakes to hear a pounding on his front door. After muttering a few obscene phrases, he rolls out of bed and stumbles to his front door. However, instead of facing another autograph seeker, the rapper best known by his alias Eminem (or the real Slim Shady) is face to face with two police officers. “Mr. Mathers,” one says, “we’re here to serve you with an arrest warrant. You have subjected much of America’s population to obscenity, homophobic comments, sexism, and racism, and frankly, it offends many people. We don’t want culture to face your type of commentary any more. You have the right to remain silent…” Needless to say, this scenario would never occur in the American democracy of the present. However, many in America today are advocating censorship to such an extreme that someday events such as this may become a reality. And, though time and time again court cases have ruled against censorship, many continue to fight to limit free speech in America. However, in restraining what the constitution guarantees, there is much at stake. Although many argue that censorship is necessary to protect America’s citizens, it violates one’s freedom of speech found in the First Amendment and should therefore not be practiced.
Granted, there are many reasons for advocating censorship that could be justified. Much material that is available in magazines, at the movie theater, and on the internet is considered by many to be extremely offensive. For example, the rock band Rage Against the Machine at times seems to glorify violence. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine High School gunmen, were fond of this band, and some of Rage Against the Machine’s lyrics have been assumed to have inspired the boys’ violent act. In many cases, evil can be advocated in forms of speech, causing many to believe that in order to prevent wrong from prevailing, censorship must be practiced with a fervor. In his essay “Censorship Can Be Beneficial,” Thomas Stork says, “Now if we can identify certain evils, and if advocacy of those evils seems likely to encourage people to commit them, then why should we not take the next and logical step and prohibit such advocacy… Must the authorities be helpless to restrain the source of the evil?” (20) This statement is a logical one, for one of the American government’s greatest concerns is protecting its citizens from violent acts.