General Question

SmashTheState's avatar

Why does censorship exist?

Asked by SmashTheState (14228points) June 8th, 2010

I am constantly amazed by the degree to which people not only engage in, but cheerfully accept the practice of censorship. For example, I’ve often experienced wholesale (and often capricious and gratuitous) censorship on Internet fora where I contribute, and if I complain, the complaints, too, are usually censored—and no matter where I go, and what form of censorship occurs, there is a long, long line of people cheering and applauding the censorship and demanding more.

My question is, why does censorship exist? Given the degree to which people seem to enjoy silencing the views of others, I can only assume that it serves some practical function. And no matter how loathsome the behaviour, from rape to warfare, one inevitably finds an evolutionary advantage at the bottom of it. With censorship, the opposite seems to be the case.

Where censorship exists, there is a willful desire to hide oneself from all unorthodox views—and further, to hide the tribe from such views as well. Yet the survival advantage seems to be in exposure to as much information as possible. Tribes which refuse to listen to “heresy” risk losing access to important information. During a period of environmental stress, a tribe which engages in censorship seems to be less likely to survive, thus making genes and memes which predispose to the behaviour self-eliminating. For example, suppose Tribe A censors all information regarding The Holy Place where the gods are said to reside. Tribe B does not. When famine rolls around, Tribe B will have that little bit of extra knowledge about hunting grounds or plant resources than Tribe A and will be more likely to survive.

Given the degree to which censorship exists (and has existed in every culture of which we know), we must assume that it is an instinctive behaviour. I can’t seem to find any evolutionary advantage to punitive orthodoxy. Can anyone else propose a theory to account for it?

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63 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Without some orthodoxy, the tribe will drift apart, thus losing all the advantages of tribalism.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Ehh there are ups and downs of it like anything else. I generally am against censorship. I think its fucking garbage and another instance of higher up people protecting us from ourselves. On the other hand, I can not negate some of the positive effects of it. I think about fluther. I have a very very strong inclination that if this site weren’t censored it would quickly degrade to the sad sad excuse for a Q&A site that yahoo answers is. So i suppose one must take the good with the bad.

SmashTheState's avatar

@uberbatman And yet, I can personally attest to the fact that Y!A engages in more censorship than Fluther does. Their censorship is often entirely arbitrary, and they do it so often that as many as one in three of my questions disappeared—sometimes weeks or months after they were asked, often taking thirty or forty answers with them as collateral damage. Despite this level of censorship, which is far in excess of the censorship which occurs here, you yourself note that Y!A is a zoo. The apparent “advantages” to censorship which you mention don’t appear to work. Remember, evolution is blithely indifferent to personal opinion. Whether we think censorship is wonderful or horrible, selection occurs on the basis of what actually works.

BoBo1946's avatar

@SmashTheState oh my we go again! Again, we are just participants of their site! We don’t make the rules, we just live by them. If a person wants a site that is uncensored, those are available on the net. Also, everyone has the right to start their own site and be the “King/Queen of the site! In other words, build your own railroad! Run it as you see fit. Any organization needs discipline are there will be anarchy amounst the tribal members! Since the beginning of time, there has always been a ruler, leader, government, etc. that makes the rules and enforces those rules. If the rules are applied fairly, and for the most part, Fluther mods are fair. Certainly don’t always agree wtih them, but don’t send me an application for their job. On occasion, they have caused my Irish eyes to send darting projectiles at their moderation…but, overall…again, they are fair!

ragingloli's avatar

The difference is, as far as I know, questions on YA get removed automatically once they are reported often enough. On Fluther, a real person looks at the question before it is removed/sent-to-editing.

SmashTheState's avatar

Folks, I’m not asking for your opinion of Fluther and its moderation policies. I’m asking you to propose hypotheses for why censorship exists as an evolutionary strategy.

ragingloli's avatar

Censorship exist because leaders want to control their subjects, that includes controlling what they think. Censorship and propaganda, the bread and butter of mind control, both in religion and dictatorships.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@SmashTheState From an evolutionary standpoint i would then say, its a way for those in power to control those who are not, and for those in power to remain where they sit comfortably.

After all, look at the church.

BoBo1946's avatar

Since the caveman, someone has to be “the boss” or you have anarchy amounst the tribe! Without rules, structure, etc., there will be bedlam amounst the group, team, organization, government etc. Everyone cannot be a rebel. But, having said that, when the rulers, government, etc., uses those rules to benefit only themselves, then we the people, have the right to fight for our rights. Ummm.. a poor paraphrase ouf the Declaration of Independence.

CMaz's avatar

“Why does censorship exist?”

Because no two people are alike. Always trying to find neutral ground.

meagan's avatar

Because of children, I’m sure. Something along those lines.

josie's avatar

Censorship exists because their are essentially two notions about the nature of man. One is that man is a reasoning creature and perfectly capable of knowing truth if he chooses to exercise reason. This is pretty much the enlightenment view in a nutshell. The other is that man really does not possess reason, but is conditioned by his surroundings to behave a certain way (Marx, for example, believed the primary conditioning factor was economic class). The extent to which one or the other is the primary philosophy, is the extent that censorship is considered valuable or acceptable. The more censorship, the more the political class believes that you can be conditioned like a rat in a Skinner box. The less censorship, the more they think that you can pretty much figure it out for yourself.

SmashTheState's avatar

People (with the exception of @marinelife) seem to be answering the question, “Why do you think censorship is a good idea?” What I’m asking is, what evolutionary purpose does censorship serve? Any behaviour which is universal across all times and cultures is a practical guarantee to have an evolutionary basis. Religious burial, for example, has been used since before homo sapiens, and this says it’s an evolved behaviour which serves a useful, practical function. Irrespective of any religious justifications, we can see that this behaviour evolved because tribes which buried their dead were less likely to suffer from diseases caused by rotting corpses, and were less likely to attract dangerous predators following the smell of ripe carrion.

Since we can easily see that censorship is nearly universal, it must in some way contribute to the survival of the tribe. This is counterintuitive (to me at least) because, as I’ve explained, it seems to actively detract from the tribe’s ability to survive. Whether or not it’s to the advantage of the alpha males, it harms the ability of the tribe to survive, and should therefore be winnowed from out from our genetic and memetic pools by selection. Why hasn’t it been?

envidula61's avatar

I believe, like @marinelife, that censorship is a kind of cultural indicator. Just as in a religion, specific beliefs serve as a way to meet others like you out there in the world, censorship exists in order to create that illusion of standardized citizenry that the masters of that society so desire.

I say illusion because there are so many ways to subvert the censorship, that it seems fruitless to even have it. In Russia there were the samizdat newspapers (self-published) that were passed around from hand to hand. In China, we see the efforts of the Chinese government to control the internet by blocking certain passages. The problem with that is that there are so many alternative routes on the internet that the information can get through for those interested enough to make it get through.

I’ve been on any number of internet sites and they all have rules of one kind of another. For example, many want to avoid “dirty” words, like c*unt, sh_t, cocksvcker, fuckwad_, etc, etc. There is absolutely no way any website can avoid all possible permutations of a word so that it is possible to enforce the rule.

Therefore, owners of such websites rely on people to “flag” objectionable posts. Or perhaps they don’t have silly prohibitions about words, and seek to enforce a culture in other ways. Here, there are rules against bad spelling. Such a ruel coudl probabely be suvberted in simple ways such as transposition of letters or pretend “mistakes.” Or, someone could write something that appears, on the face of it, to be a serious response, but was actually nonsense.

Satire and sarcasm are some traditional ways of subverting rules concerning content. There are many famous Russian novels that do thsi. I think Gulliver’s Travels (which I have never read) is supposed to be satire. “Much truth is said in jest.” It is so easy to compose something that, on the face of it, sounds like it meets the requirements of the masters, but is actually pretty much nonsense, or worse, subversion. Enough people do this, and the society breaks down. And believe me, sooner or later, people rebel against censorship and the society does break down—usually rather catastrophically. I’ve heard of a number of websites that suffered this fate.

Another mechanism by which societies try to enforce their vision of the culture is by planting toadies and stool-pigeons to champion their way of doing things. Often they urge people to do things the master’s way because they have the power and it is fruitless to resist. There is someone who appears to be a toady in this thread, and while I’ve been lurking, I’ve seen several others. Their refrain is all pretty much the same. “Conform, or leave.”

Now the interesting question is why masters think it is so important to enforce their own version of culture using ham-fisted techniques such as the ones I have described here. It’s like trying to get drug users to stop using drugs by making drug use illegal. All that happens is that the use goes underground.

An alternative technique that actually works can be seen in the anti-tobacco efforts in the United States. I wish my country would employ them. You employ social pressure—ads, education campaigns and the like. You limit the outlets for the undesirable product or activity. It is not hard to create the society you want without censorship.

But most masters are lazy and can’t see straight. Or perhaps, to be charitable, they are ignorant. Censorship looks easy, so that’s how they try to enforce cultural similarity. And indeed, it may work—at first. But eventually the populace will catch on, and despite all the toadies and police and other enforcement efforts, the society will be torn down.

There’s a reason why the US is a model for the rest of us. Freedom of expression works. What boggles my mind is how so many people can see this example and constantly claim, “but we’re different.”

You’re not that different.

I’m sorry to blast you with such a long post as practically my first one here, but this is an issue I feel passionately about, and one that, in my country, I have worked hard on.

Cruiser's avatar

Censorship exists to control who gets the most attention and to also control the direction of the “State” or censoring body. This “relationship” exists at all levels of interaction from the mega “State” such as a governing body controlling or censoring the constituents communications, speech, media etc. to achieve a desired common end to the familial “State” level of a parent controlling their children by censoring their thoughts and actions to a desired end. Fluther is another “State” censoring the site content through moderation to best reflect the look and feel desired by the owners here.

Censorship exists on so many more levels than the typical freedom of speech issues.

cookieman's avatar

Because people in power often presume to know better than those not in power. When they do, it’s called “procedure” or “rules” or whatnot – when they don’t, we call it “censorship”.

Generally, I only concern myself with this in all things public. State and federal laws. Municipal rules and regulations. etc. Here, I am sensitive to “rules” becoming “censorship” as a result of corrupt or misguided power.

In the private sector, I play by the “my sandbox, my rules” system. Barring obvious criminal activity, I play along until I don’t like their rules anymore – then I move to another sandbox.

envidula61's avatar

Silly @cprevite. The customer is always right. A loyal customer tries to tell the company where it has made a mistake before walking to the next sandbox. Disloyal customers accept whatever the company provides because they feel powerless to change anything and/or don’t think they have a right to change anything.

Ownership does not give someone exclusive rights to do what they want. Neighbors—and, indeed, anyone affected by something the owner does—have a right to urge or force the owner to do the socially responsible thing.

Sometimes an owner sets up a pig farm. The next door neighbors create quite a fuss because they can’t stand the smell. But the neighbors next to them can’t smell it, so they don’t care. Until they notice the effluent contaminating entire rivers and estuaries. By then, of course, it’s too late to do something.

It is worth paying attention to those who complain. They are affected first. Sooner or later, everyone will be affected. But by then, it will be too late.

Your Chesapeake Bay is in danger of losing all it’s oysters—and there are many foreign fish—some, I am sad to say, from my country—that are very opportunistic and are making it impossible for native fish to survive. The Bay is being destroyed by the runoff from thousands of farms up the Susquehanna. Nitrogen and fertilizer and God knows what else.

The people living by the bay are your early warning system. What happened to the Chesapeake is probably already happening in many other places around the world, as well as in the US.

Will anyone pay attention? I doubt it. That leaves the complainers with pyrrhic victory. It is not really where they want to be: in the position of saying “I told you so.”

cookieman's avatar

@envidula61: ”A loyal customer tries to tell the company where it has made a mistake before walking to the next sandbox.

You are correct. This is an important step I should have included and be mindful of.

marinelife's avatar

@SmashTheState I did answer your question. I believe censorship exists to carve the rough edges off of the society, to limit the divergent views as a way of keeping the tribe together. If the tribe drifts apart, then the advantages of being a tribe in the first place are nullified. It is important to keep the tribe cohesive and a whole.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@marinelife he was saying, that you, unlike the rest of us, actually answered the question properly.

jrpowell's avatar

@envidula61 :: “The customer is always right. A loyal customer tries to tell the company where it has made a mistake before walking to the next sandbox.”

This isn’t Wal-mart. One pissed off customer shitting in the pool can make ten people that are good members leave. So censorship can be good. I run a site with a mod from here. We mostly censor our own stuff. But anything that is racist of homophobic or a personal attack is removed and your account is gone. But that is pretty much it. It makes things better for the users.

We don’t have ads and the site costs us $202 per year to run. I think we can remove whatever we want.

If it turned into a huge shitpile we would stop paying for and developing the site.

marinelife's avatar

@uberbatman and @SmashTheState Sorry, I misread that. Oh, well, I elaborated on what I said the first time.

Talimze's avatar

Because people are afraid of the contents of their own minds, and they would rather not be reminded of things which they find repulsive, no matter what context it might be presented in.

BoBo1946's avatar

@SmashTheState well, that is cool! You would think one of us hit on something… i’m taking my marbles and going home!

Facade's avatar

Because some people don’t want themselves or their children to be exposed to certain things.

tinyfaery's avatar

We moved away from a tribal mentality long ago. Today it’s the individual that is important. I reject your hypothesis, like I do most theories based solely on a single factor.

andrew's avatar

I quote Jeruba on the topic of ‘censorship’ (the best I’ve seen on the site):

Let’s be sure what we are talking about when we say “censorship.” Censorship is often used as a scare word to arouse people when censorship is not actually at issue at all.

Censorship and selectivity are not the same thing.
Censorship and responsible editing are not the same thing.
Censorship and exercise of judgment and taste in what to bring before the public are not the same thing.

If I decline to publish your remarks in my magazine, newspaper, Internet forum, or other outlet, where my intent and goal are to give voice to the best work I can find that serves the interests of my audience, that is not censorship. I am doing nothing whatsoever to stop you from publishing it. I do not owe you or anyone a platform. You can go elsewhere and publish it.

Censorship is the systematic suppression of material on the basis of some definable content or ideology or other criterion that can be identified and stated in advance. It takes a pretty large institution (such as a government) to practice censorship because it requires the span of control to actually prohibit and prevent release of the material to the public.
I will always stand on the side of free speech and will prefer too little restriction over too much. But I do believe that most content can benefit from the exercise of some judgment and selectivity before it is released. It is the rare author who is his own best critic.


BoBo1946's avatar

ummm….very good @andrew !

janbb's avatar

Kudos to @Jeruba!

envidula61's avatar

Why not call the moderators editors. It has a much nicer ring to it. It also makes the place seem much more posh. Users can be prouder about their work. You editors are making editorial decisions. It is much easier to understand that editorial decisions might be somewhat random. One expects moderators to be even-handed and to all make similar judgments. Not so with editors.

bolwerk's avatar

@tinyfaery – we may have intellectualized a lot of the things that make us “modern,” but deep down we are still social creatures – and creatures of instinct. There is a pretty clear parallel between tribal cohesiveness and the modern jingoistic/classist/racist/nationalist/patriotic attitudes that afflict “modern” humanity. All you need to do is a little googling to find an example of a cretin on television advocating silencing (or actually outright silencing, as O’Reilly famously did to Jeremy Glick) people to protect the nation/country from opinions they fear.

It seems to me that something evolutionary is indeed instructive in explaining censorship.

Cruiser's avatar

@andrew I appreciate your words and sentiments and can truly empathize with your task at hand to steer this ship in the right direction. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is still by definition censorship….

“Censorship is the editing, removing, or otherwise changing speech and other forms of human expression. In some cases, it is exercised by governing bodies but it is always and continuously carried out by the mass media. The visible motive of censorship is often to stabilize, improve, or persuade the societal group that the censoring organization would have control over.

SmashTheState's avatar

Can can the suck-ups and apple-polishers please vacate the thread? For the third time: I’m not interested in discussing the magnanimous censorship policies of the glorious rulers of Fluther (peace be upon them). Feel free to create your own thread to celebrate the infinite wisdom of Fluther’s ruling pantheon. I’m interested in hypotheses concerning the putative evolutionary benefits of censorship. In other words, how does censorship of information benefit the gene pool? It must, or it wouldn’t be so universally prevalent.

Again, not a thread for discussing the greatness and fairness of Fluther. It is a thread for discussing how censorship increases the likelihood that members of the tribe which practices it will pass on their genetic material.

janbb's avatar

“Can can the suck-ups and apple-polishers please vacate the thread?”

That sounds like an attempt at censorship to me; what evolutionary purpose does it fulfill?

bolwerk's avatar

@janbb: he said please. Clearly it was a request.

john65pennington's avatar

My answer is short and sweet. would you want your child to read some of the questions and answers on Fluther, that were not censored? not me. i am glad there is censoreship on Fluther and in all parts of the world. its not you or i that need protection, its our children.

bolwerk's avatar

To hell with children. Anyone censoring in the name of children should be cut down at the knees.

john65pennington's avatar

bolwerk, grow up. apparently, you do not have children of your own.

ragingloli's avatar

Censorship > better group cohesion > better survivability.
But also:
Censorship > stagnating group ability development > reduced survivability.
That is why moderation is important, no pun intended.
As with all things, evolution works on a “just good enough” basis.

bolwerk's avatar

@john65pennington – Of course not. Even if I did, I wouldn’t run around trying to hide things from them. Or worse, attempting oppress everyone for their sake. Grow up.

BoBo1946's avatar

my vote goes to @john65pennington! Our children get plenty of exposure to the World without adding to it. Have raised four and they all turned out good without additional “stuff”!

Cruiser's avatar

@bolwerk Your attitude is exactly why 50% of the cub scouts I mentored over the last 8 years were ½ out of their minds and I have an even more difficult time keeping my kids away from violent video games “Because Johnny’s parent’s let him play the game”! I feel sorry for any teachers out there for the same reason!

john65pennington's avatar

bolwerk, one day, when you mature, you will remember our conversation and realize that your children will need all the protection you can afford them. i welcome that day for you.

BoBo1946's avatar

@SmashTheState each person has to answer the question the way they desire…maybe, not what you want to read, but that is their opinion. Each must respect the other. Now, a given…as you respectfully pointed out to me, we did not answer the question in the manner you asked it. Understand where you are coming from…My vote goes to @john65pennington about censorship. Our children are the winners. Our children get plenty of the World even when we try to protect them.

BoBo1946's avatar

@bolwerk you must be writing a book…loll

bolwerk's avatar

@john65pennington: I’m mature enough to keep it in my pants. If I wanted to add more unneeded children to this planet, I’d probably become a sanctimonious armchair censor myself.

@Cruiser: What exactly is my attitude? I’m genuinely sorry that younger children are so easily exposed to the emotional sensations they can’t quite understand or control because of john65pennington’s woman-degrading p0rnz or their BFF’s ultra violent Grand Theft Auto. I just don’t buy that keeping them from such things helps. The world we live in now is one where such things are available to them. Perhaps Mennonites are able to prevent exposure to such things, but suburbanites probably can’t – which is why they futilely try to oppress everyone else. I think parents may have to pick a time-place-manner for this admittedly touchy subject, but there is little way I can see all but the most isolated people from having to address the problem, directly and I would hope honestly, to their kids.

And while I doubt anyone can stop such imagery from eventually being seen, empathy-building goes a long way towards mitigating the problems. However, empathy is something the self-appointed guardians of decency lack themselves, and they’re rarely able to pass it on to their children. For instance, that the women who are most likely degraded by pornography, prostitution, and sex slavery are human beings too is a point as completely missed by censors as it is by addicted fans of such things. That gang members, drug peddlers, and even child molesters are often victims in long-running cycles of abuse caused by a punitive society also flies right over their heads, and keeps them from solving any problems whatsoever.

@BoBo1946: children are never the long-term winners with oppressive policies. They grow up and become adults who should be free to express themselves how the please.

Cruiser's avatar

@bolwerk I agree it is not so much about the images themselves but for me it is the world they represent. First of I am talking about 6–12 year old’s here. Kids need security and to feel secure in their world, and unfettered GTA and other graphic representations give rise to a generation of young minds that truly have no capacity to differentiate between wanton violence and normal ‘acceptable’ behavior! My kids have told me more than once how uncomfortable those scenes and ideas make them but they beg to play them because the other kids are allowed to!! Well, I tell them “Tuff!!”

A 10 year old’s mind is not ready to comprehend and process those type of violent images without it negatively affecting them no matter how you may want to sugar coat it. My kids have relied on me to keep their world in a form they can understand, respect and feel secure in and I guarantee you would not be saying what you are attempting to justify here IF you were either a parent yourself, a teacher of young kids or a mentor to kids. No if and or buts, young kids are not ready for that crap, certainly don’t need it and can wait a few years until they are age appropriate to have access to it.

envidula61's avatar

I think that @ragingloli has nailed it!

We see that dynamic tension everywhere—in the history of US censorship laws as well as those in England and France. I wonder if you could find a correlation between the loosening of censorship laws and the internationalization of culture.

As I said above, I think that moral suasion is a better tactic than censorship. People are free to espouse whatever they want, but most people in the culture agree on something because they chose to, not because they have to. Using force to form how people think is like spanking kids when they don’t know their times tables. They might learn the times tables, but just to avoid the punishment. They couldn’t care less about plutification. What we want is for our kids to know what they want and to have the tools to get it.

These people who keep accusing others of not having children seem to not have children of their own. Of if they do, they bring them up in the old-fashioned, dweeb-raising technique based on the belief that sparing the rod spoils the child.

Children who are brought up with information—full information—will not go crazy with sex if they see porn. Quite the opposite. They will say “yech” and skip on to another page. But these children have been fairly fully informed about issues related to sex and procreation and stalking and rape and porn, etc, etc. They make informed choices about what they want to be exposed to. They protect themselves (it is so cute to see them say, “that is not appropriate” and move on to the next movie) and they protect each other.

It would be interesting to do another study to see whether views about censorship and child rearing are correlating with the amount of physical discipline received in childhood. Perhaps it is also correlated with more conservative political views. Who knows?

Interesting discussion.

BoBo1946's avatar

@bolwerk in other words, if it feels good, do it! We are from different generations. Respectully, disagree! Children should lead in the right direction. That is the responsibility of the parent. Children will live their lives according to the way they were taught. Not oppressive policies, but with love & nuturing with proper discipline! Life is about making good choices and the parent has to teach the child right from wrong.

bolwerk's avatar

@Cruiser: really? Kids today might be changing again, at least according to recent research, but I get the impression that current generations are much less obnoxious and narcissistic than older Gen Xers, boomers, and their parents. Either way, I wasn’t objecting to parental regulation of younger children’s activities. I was objecting to social regulation for the sake of children alone. I’ll grant communities probably can make narrow, rational exceptions: maybe we could drive the creepy guy with the trench coat out of the playground? k thx. Many things are just too easy to solve: Internet-connected computers can be placed in public spaces; TVs and DVD players can be unplugged, placed in master bedrooms behind lock and key, or not had at all; friends might be harder to regulate, but parents can communicate their wishes to other parents. That most parents seem too utterly lazy to employ these simple options and instead opt to try banning things implies the root interest is depriving others, not protecting their kids.

And really, I have no sympathy for arguments that start, “If you were a parent….” They’re without merit. Parents are too frequently incompetent to even be considered acceptable parents, much less arbiters of what other people who are not parents can do with their free time. If you feel your kids need to be kept away from something, it’s your responsibility, not everyone else’s.

@BoBo1946: where did this come from? I have little interest in porn and none in video games, and haven’t since I was a teenager. Advocating banning/censoring things available for public consumption/enjoyment for the sake of children is plain specious for too many reasons. If there’s a reason something should be kept out of the public sphere, it needs to be better than future adults might think dirty thoughts or there’s a chance an irresponsible parent (that’s what many censors tacitly admit they are) might let something “bad” slip by. Nothing about the existence of pornography or GTA keeps parents from rearing children responsibility. Violence and pornography have been readily available for a generation now, and antisocial behavior appears to have steadily decreased – particularly in urban areas that have always been associated with decadence.

BoBo1946's avatar

@bolwerk porn…who mentioned porn..not me. You got the wrong guy! Anyway, don’t think we get anywhere with this one. No way to explain my position writing here. Please re-read my last post a couple of times. My comments never gave examples…just general statements about raising children. I’m 63 years old with grandchildren…so, i’ve a little experience with life. Btw, @john65pennington is 66 years old…we don’t have all the answers, but we have been around the block a time or two!

Also, you seem like a very nice person…someone did a good job with you. There is no way to say one way is better than the other. Just know my way worked…all i’ve to go on my friend.

Cruiser's avatar

@bolwerk Video games from my POV have become the convenient baby sitter to many overly busy parents. Perhaps not a bad thing in many cases but again goes in a direction I cannot condone in my house with the gratuitous ultra violent and sexually explicit imagery of todays video games. You made my whole point much better than I apparently did and was exactly what I was referring to…

“Parents are too frequently incompetent to even be considered acceptable parents, much less arbiters of what other people who are not parents can do with their free time”

lilikoi's avatar

Censorship is just another shackle on general freedom. Those that invoke it seek control, power; those that allow it to happen get offended and are willing to trade freedom for a bit of ‘safety’.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Censorship may be functional for those in power to protect them from opposition. But it would appear to be disfunctional in facilitating societal evolution. Basically, censorship supports the status quo.

YARNLADY's avatar

On the basic, evolutionary level, genes practice censorship on their own, and it has to do with the survival of the fittest. In the social context, censorship is just a word that was invented to describe a situation, and has nothing to do with evolution or any natural phenomenon.

Words like censorship, free, fair, justice, bad, good, and yes, even evil – mean nothing inherently, but only as meaning is assigned to them by general consensus.

anartist's avatar

Loose Lips Sink Ships


Quite simply, to protect our young children from the immoralities of an increasingly ugly, coarse, and violent world, so that they do not grow up immoral themselves and make the world even more ugly, coarse, and violent.

Nullo's avatar

Everybody likes to be able to say their piece. It happens that your piece gets more ears if you can shut up all of the yelling.
It’s also an effective way to weed out destructive influences.

anartist's avatar

My answer is short and sweet. would you want your child to read some of the questions and answers on Fluther, that were not censored? not me. i am glad there is censoreship on Fluther and in all parts of the world.
Would you really want the entire world to be suitable for children? So much that is interesting in life isn’t [to some people]. I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that.

mattbrowne's avatar

There’s no reason not to “censor” spammers of forums. In the past for a while I was active in some Google groups. Disaster. Unusable. Full of spam.

BoBo1946's avatar

@mattbrowne yeah, those spammers like Chaz really slow up the system..loll

josie's avatar

@ Everybody I think it is important to clarify something. It is only censorship if the government does it backed up by punitive enforcement. If a business, like Fluther, wants to limit what people type, that is their prerogative. If we do not like it, we can ask and answer elsewhere.

kevbo's avatar

Haven’t read all of the above.

I’ve been digesting the video essay What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, and while it is IMHO fraught with many biases and flaws, one applicable nugget that comes out of it is that human evolution has selected for short term (i.e. immediate) power. So, we are blind (and blinded), in a sense, to our collective peril if preserving power in the short term demands focus on something else.

To account for the applause of the masses, perhaps it is akin to abusive relationships, where the abused identifies with the abuser—or perhaps because the power structure that demands censorship is what provides life and meaning to those who sleep peacefully under its protective blanket. There’s another quote from the film that says “If you get your food from a supermarket and your water from a tap, you will defend to the death the system that supports the supermarket and the tap because your life depends on it. If you get your food from a forest and your water from a stream, you will defend to the death the forest and the stream because your life depends on it.”

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