Censorship is rarely, if ever, justified.
“Censorship” is a word which seems to be authoritative rather than democratic, which implies the will of the governors rather than the will of general people. Since the occurrence of the censorship, which could be traced back to the Ancient Rome, it has been playing an important part in the domestic affairs while arousing applause and condemnation as well. Here the our government faces a dilemma, is it fair to carry on the censorship at the cost of sacrificing part of democracy, or just open the gate letting flows of ideas and thoughts in, at the risk of losing its own rampart.
Since censorship suggest an act of changing or suppressing speech, writing or any other forms of expression that is condemned as subversive of the common good, it must have a close relationship with the one who applies such supervision, and the word “common good” should be redefined under different conditions. There is time when we were all under a powerful monarchy, and the “common good” is the “monarch good”, then the censorship itself is the instrument of the monarch which solely depended on the will of the monarch; in the Middle Ages, both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Churches practiced censorship that seemed to be oppressive to any ideas challenging the doctrines of churches and the existence of God; even now, in some authoritative countries, the censorship is used to rule its people by restricting their minds, of course, for the stability of their governing over the people. With these regards, censorship itself is questioned at the rationality of existing, regardless of the practices made by the democratic government, while the justice of the democratic government is quite doubtable.
The matter concerning is not only who practices the censorship but also how it is practiced. Since different men make different comments on the same work of art, for example, it is hard to set up a measure by which we could decide whether one should be prohibited, especially to the work of arts, as its content always labeled as “subversive” and “revolutionary”, two words detested by the governors most. Such cases could be found in Ulysses by J. Joyce and Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H Lawrence, these two great novels were firstly considered to be guilty of obscenity and were put to prohibition by the American government, but turned out to be true masterpieces today. So any form of censorship, to some extent, lags behind the development of ideas and will put more or less a negative effect on their development.
Though the censorship is such a disgusting word embodying so much oppression and might, it is a compromise we made with the reality far from being perfect, to provide a comparative stable ground which we could stand on. At this point, I don’t agree with the institute like ACLU who oppose any censorship. The censorship, though rarely justified, should exist as long as a more ideal and practical form is found to replace it, or we could only expect our God to create a more ideal species instead of imperfect human beings.