Ah, Facebook. We all love it. We all hate it. It’s become totally necessary as a social networking tool and many people would not know what to do with themselves without it. It connects us to friends, family and associates with such ease and panache, it makes us all wonder how we ever managed before it came along.
Today a friend of mine posted a link to this video from Break.com. It had been up for about 7 hours when I tried to re-post it and send it to a friend when I received the message ‘Some users have reported this as offensive.’ and my repost was blocked.
Which brings me to the topic at hand.
Wikipedia defines censorship as ‘the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material that has been deemed offensive, objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor’. Censorship has been used extensively by authoritarian governments under Josef Stalin, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Kim Il Jong, Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler, and by countries with authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Venazuela, Portugal and Cuba. Not a list of countries whom I would include on a Top 10 record for humanitarian efforts.
So imagine my surprise when I tried to repost it and was blocked from doing so. The video itself is pretty innocuous and really funny and definitely tongue in cheek (come on, who doesn’t poke fun at the Mormons?), but offensive?
Censorship harms us all. It restricts our freedoms of speech, thought and access to information. It enables totalitarian regimes and allows dictators and despots to flourish. It hampers social and technological development and discourages thoughtful discourse on controversial subjects, allowing no resolution save for what is convenient to the censoring party. It stifles culture and the arts and makes for a society that is ill-informed and easily led by puppet masters.
I don’t know about you, but I do not like to be told what I can and cannot read, watch, play, listen to, with whom I may interact or activities in which I may participate. These are the tenets of a free society and the basis of the constitutions of all countries with outstanding records of human rights and freedoms to which we are all entitled, no matter where you were born or where you live, by virtue of simply being born human.
|“||All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.||”|
|—Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)|
Censorship is the first step on the slippery slope of oppression in the name of ‘The Greater Good’. The only way to counter censorship is conscientious, vigorous and vocal objection.
Speak up. Be heard. Protest and write letters. Talk to people. You should attempt to change minds and deter censorship whenever, wherever and however you encounter it. If you encounter censorship in the media, you should call them to task. If you encounter censorship in bookstores or in retail, you should demand that they stock the banned item.
It matters. You have the right to do whatever does not infringe on another’s rights and if you don’t object when someone has trodden on your basic human rights…. well, remember that nice little civil war brewing in Iran right now? Imagine that happening here, in Canada.
Don’t laugh. Iran used to be a constitutional monarchy with rights and freedoms similar to what now exists in England. It all starts with those in government telling you, “You can’t read that book! It’s not good for our country/children/sex drive/precious bodily fluids!”
Now, without further ado, I present the video that launched this tirade.