Censorship Essay

Censorship Essay

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Censorship is defined as the act or practice of removing obscene, vulgar, and highly objectionable material from things we encounter every day. Whether it is on TV, in music, books, or on the Internet censorship is an inescapable part of our lives. Free expression is one of the basic roots that are country is based on, although this right is constantly challenged and contested. The Communications Decency Act was passed by congress on February 1st 1996. This act sent shockwaves throughout the Internet community.

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was an outright attempt to censor another form of media believed to "initiate the transmission of, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person." It is clear that its main purpose was to protect minors from indecent and potentially harmful material on the internet. The new law planned on imposing strict penalties for using indecent language, or discussing material deemed to be indecent on electronic bulletin boards or Internet chat rooms accessible to children. Section 502 of the Communications Decency Act states that, "Whoever ... uses any interactive computer service to display in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs ... shall be fined under Title 1, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years...." That basically covers any of the over 13,000 discussion groups, as well as...


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... who want to safely enjoy the internet. This act is extremely unjust and fails to recognize the unique nature of the internet. I clearly understand the motivation for the Communications Decency Act, but feel that there was a terribly misguided effort to protect children from what some prosecutors consider offensive or indecent online material. I believe that this responsibility should be put on parents. Parents, not the Federal Government should determine for themselves and their children what material should come into their homes based on their own tastes and values. The Communication Decency Act simply goes to far in the attempt to "protect the children." I think that Vermont senator Patrick Leahy summed it up best by saying that, "Banning indecent material from the Internet is like using a meat cleaver to deal with the problems better addressed with a scalpel."

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