Censorship of the Arts

Last updated: November 21, 2019

What is the right balance to strike between freedom of and restrictions upon artistic expression?

Censorship of the Arts
Yes because...

An individual's rights end when they impinge on the safety and rights of others. By enacting laws ag...

An individual's rights end when they impinge on the safety and rights of others. By enacting laws against incitement to racial hatred and similar hate speech, we have accepted that freedom of expression should have limits. In addition, art, like any other form of free speech, should be subject to the same restrictions on an individual's freedom of expression. To create an exception for art would be hypocritical and create a legal loophole for content such as hate speech, which could then seek protection on the grounds that it was a form of art.
No because...
Civil rights should not be curtailed in the absence of a clear and present danger to the safety of others. The Proposition has a duty to demonstrate this risk is genuine. Furthermore, we would argue that so long as no illegal acts were committed in the creative process, the public should have a choice in deciding whether to view the resulting content. Proposition arguments about child pornography and bestiality being filmed and then displayed as art are irrelevant arguments, as these acts are illegal in the first place.

Censorship of the Arts
Yes because...

Censorship can also be a finely tuned system of protecting our children. Just as we recognise that c...

Censorship can also be a finely tuned system of protecting our children. Just as we recognise that certain content should not be accessed by society at all, we can also recognise that certain content (e.g. sexual content) is unsuitable for children, and we can pass censorship accordingly. For example, certain forms of erotic artwork might be unsuitable for children, despite their artistic merits.
No because...
Censorship, even when age rating systems are used, is a very blunt tool. It takes no account of the differing standards of education or maturity between children and youths, or the varying attitudes towards parenting in different households. By imposing an external standard of censorship, the government is depriving parents of the right to raise their children in a manner that they see fit. We lose the element of parental discretion, which is arguably part of the right to lead a private and family life as one sees fit – a right that is enshrined in many international human rights conventions. Looking at adults, we see that they have the right to vote, bear arms, and die for the country. Why should they be deprived of the ability to decide what they wish to see, or what their children should be allowed to watch?Lastly, we should note that people are not being forced to view artwork at gunpoint. Every member of the public has the right to avert their eyes and not look at art that offends them. Similarly, they can refrain from entering a gallery with an exhibition of offensive works.

Censorship of the Arts
Yes because...

Censorship may actually help the artistic cause -- e.g. the general public is far more likely to sup...

Censorship may actually help the artistic cause -- e.g. the general public is far more likely to support and fund erotic art with sexual content if they do not have to worry about their children seeing it!
No because...
Censorship is far more likely to hurt the Arts – if something has been decreed by the Government to be unsuitable for children, the odds of the general public wanting to buck the trend and fund it are somewhat slim.

Censorship of the Arts
Yes because...

Many forms of modern art seek to push the boundaries of what is acceptable, or aim for the lowest de...

Many forms of modern art seek to push the boundaries of what is acceptable, or aim for the lowest denominator in taste. Both situations can give rise to content that is unacceptable, and which governments should not permit.
No because...
The risks of stifling free expression far outweigh the potential for unacceptable material. Content which we consider perfectly acceptable today would have been regarded as taboo 50 years ago – if the Proposition had their way, we would all still be stuck in the Victorian Era. Besides, if a novel and controversial art form proved to be completely out of touch with society, then the individuals in society would reject it rather than be corrupted by it.

Censorship of the Arts
Yes because...

Excessive sex and violence in the media can lead to similar behaviour in viewers (studies in the USA...

Excessive sex and violence in the media can lead to similar behaviour in viewers (studies in the USA have shown this). There is a very real risk of copycat crimes inspired by depictions of criminal activity in the media, even if no criminal act was committed during the creative process. This alone should be justification for censorship.
No because...
The statistical correlation between watching sex & violence and committing such acts is dubious. Firstly, these studies are not exhaustive and are often funding by special interest groups. We must also realise that correlation is different from causation – an alternative interpretation is that people with violent tendencies are more likely to be connoisseurs of violent art, and the same applies for rapists and pornography.Even if we believe that some people with weaker morals are likely to be corrupted, why should the rest of society be penalised for the moral weakness of a few? Why should innocent people have their civil rights curtailed when the small minority we are concerned about has not even committed a crime yet! There are far better ways of reducing the crime rate, with far less cost in civil liberties, such as better policing, tougher penalties on actual crimes being committed, CCTV cameras, and improved street lighting.

Censorship of the Arts
Yes because...

Even if some individuals manage to circumvent the censorship measures, the Government has sent an im...

Even if some individuals manage to circumvent the censorship measures, the Government has sent an important message about what society considers to be acceptable. The role of the state in sending social messages and setting social standards should not be underestimated, and censorship (be it through bans or minimum age requirements) is an important tool in thisprocess.
No because...
Censorship is ultimately infeasible. Try censoring art on the internet, for example! With the advent of modern technology, text, photography and film can now be distributed on the internet. The sooner we recognise the reality, the better. In addition, if we censor art which depicts an unacceptable act or viewpoint, it merely sends it underground. It might also glamorise the prohibited artwork and play to the forbidden fruit and counterculture tendencies inherent in human nature. Far better to keep such art accessible to the public, where people can see for themselves that it is “bad”. If the censorship board is truly acting in line with public morals, it has nothing to fear from transparency and letting the public decide for themselves that a piece of art is unacceptable.


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Leah Blackthorn

Once you release art to the general public, you’ve made the decision to share this. If people don’t deem it fit, you have no place to argue that. Just like people are turned down for many things, be it jobs or anything like that, art can be turned down and once you’ve made this choice it’s up to the public to decide

Abigail

There is no place for censorship of art. Art is how humans express themselves. It is too important to hide. I believe that everyone has the right to walk away when the art they see is too much for them, but don’t make somebody hide their art so that one person can feel more comfortable.





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