Policing The Web Essay

2960 words - 12 pages

Policing the Web Censorship, a word every American is familiar with, has been present throughout our entire history. Censorship is the act of examining and expurgating material. Recently, the internet has become the latest target of censorship. The government is looking into policing the internet and officially having standards that would regulate what is and is not censored from the American public. If the U.S. government attains the right to censor internet content, it will be an egregious invasion of our First Amendment rights, and a flagrant step towards the complete obliteration of our civil liberties. The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly states Congress shall make no law ...view middle of the document...

Internet censorship policies have been instituted in communist countries like China and Russia for the exact reason of controlling the things their citizens are allowed to view and the ideas they are allowed to express. Do we, as a country, really want to institute these kinds of policies? Once a government starts trying to regulate everything in our lives and begins deciding what is "appropriate" to view or not, we lose our democracy. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said it best when he stated "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime .. . ."(Ginsberg v. United States, (1966)). If we begin instituting censorship, we will be no better than the governments we condemn.Another important part of the First Amendment is its mention of a free press. The internet is a viable form of press, which is clearly supposed to be protected by the First Amendment. The freedom of the press is important in that it allows the public to get information on stories that the government may not necessarily want you to know about. It is a way for the Public to stay educated on every issue, regardless of the U.S. government's support of it or not. Censorship and a free press are pretty much opposites, and of the two, I would choose a free press anytime. If the censorship is honest in its intention, it would like to prevent arbitrariness, but it makes arbitrariness into a law. No danger that it can avert is greater than itself. The mortal danger for every being lies in losing itself. Hence lack of freedom is the real mortal danger for mankind. For the time being, leaving aside the moral consequences, bear in mind that you cannot enjoy the advantages of a free press without putting up with its inconveniences. You cannot pluck the rose without its thorns! (Karl Marx, "On Freedom of the Press"). As Marx states, a government cannot allow people the right of a free press and expect to be completely happy with all of the ideologies expressed. It is expected that there will be views that test the limits and are unconventional, but if we allow these ideas to be deemed as unfit to be viewable to the public, then the very essence of our freedom of speech and press is destroyed.That, is perhaps the biggest issue with censoring the internet. What do you censor? What is so inappropriate that is should be banned from the internet and filtered out? The problem with a country like the U.S. is that there are so many beliefs and ideas out there, yet our government is comprised of men and women who, for the most part, share culturally "normal" ideas. Because of this, many ideas are seen as irrational and unbelievable to "normal" people and are misunderstood. Should the views of the few be compromised for the views of the many? It would be unfair to take one group's opinion of what is "decent" and to impose that level of decency on the entire internet. Looking back on past events, one may remember in 1933 when Adolf Hitler,...

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