Last week, Jacob Kriss, The Lamron's editor-in-chief, wrote a column about a letter received regarding the "Sex and the 'Seo" column. Nine Geneseo students signed the letter, which threatened going to the administration in efforts to censor the paper. Like Jacob, I was struck dumb by the suggestion that ideas ought to be censored in the media.
Geneseo is a microcosm of the real world: What happens here happens out there, on a larger and more complicated scale. The Lamron is just like all the papers ever printed in that it is used to spread ideas, both edgy and tame. Newspapers have been widely regarded since their invention as the "voice of the people." Since the advent of television and radio, that voice has spread to other venues, but the newspaper has nonetheless remained the watchdog against the oppression of the people by their government.
Now, though, the fourth estate is under attack from censors and the apathetic people in the United States. The FCC has laid down regulations regarding what is "acceptable" content in radio and television, and stories are often cut by editors (or station managers) who feel that they are too edgy for the public.
Censorship has existed as long as there's been media to censor, but it has intensified in recent years since Super Bowl XXXVIII, when Janet Jackson's breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake on stage during the halftime show. Apparently this occurrence was so very outrageous and aberrant, so horrifying and emotionally scarring, that the entire FCC code was revised. Added were forbidden explicit words never again to see the light of public utterance or print, concepts no longer to be explored by television shows or radio talk programs, and a general addition of stern morals that, gosh-darn, we all ought to follow.
So far this censorship is mild and relatively agreed-upon (though I personally oppose any form of expurgation). However, the problems arise because people have short memories and forget that censorship has been employed by some of the most terrifying regimes in the history of the world: Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Hussein all sponsored mass book-burnings and purges, going so far, in some cases, as to kill the educated and make it illegal to learn.
Now, it's unlikely that anything so drastic will ever happen here, and I have enough faith in the American people that were someone to propose it, they'd rise against it. However, censorship in any form is a slippery slope and should not be practiced at all.
The media, then, exists to reflect to the world, the government and your peers exactly what it is you think. If you condone censorship and the creative editing of topics, do not complain when your interests are trampled. The rights of Americans include a free press; they've been fought for too hard by too many people for us simply to hand them away.
Aaron Davis is a freshman English and French major who thinks censorship is total [expletive].