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Unformatted text preview: Module 11: Filtering & Censorship What censorship is Censorship, although often invoked whenever access to information is blocked, technically refers to governmental action to ban or block an item (historically books and motion pictures) rather than the more generalized meaning in popular use. These actions are usually taken at the state or community level rather than nationally, especially when dealing with the printed word. Censorship is not a recent phenomenon. It can be traced back thousands of years to China, Greece, and Rome. The term "censor," in fact, originated in Rome as an official designated to protect the citizenry from indecent or inflammatory speech. In more modern times, censorship has come to refer primarily to official regulation of obscene or indecent materials (both are highly subjective descriptors), primarily books and some motion pictures. ( See Miller v. California in the "Recommended Readings" section for more information on how our courts define "obscene." ) Banning of printed materials dates back hundreds of years but became widespread following the development and adoption of the Gutenberg printing method. As books, pamphlets, and newspapers became relatively low in cost to produce, printed literature expanded beyond traditional material such as Bibles and classic literature to include more inflammatory work that governments could view as liable to foment social and political unrest. In response, lists of banned authors and books began to circulate, especially across Europe and later in the United States. In the U.S., most censorship has focused on books. In 1855, Mark Twain's classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was banned for the first time but not for the last. Other notable literary works to have received official censure include James Joyce's Ulysses , Voltaire's Candide , and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales . Most criteria for censorship are based on an appeal to prurient interests, or blatant sexual content. But governmental censorship has not been limited to literature or to a focus on sexuality. Printed information on birth control, communism, anti-war propaganda, and pro-drug usage works have also been banned at various times in U.S. history. Motion picture censorship dates from 1930, and like books, has focused primarily on sexual content. The Hays Commission was founded to govern what could and could not be contained in films, largely in response to explicit sexual content in some silent films. The Hays Code indicated that films should not lower public morals, depict crime or criminals as sympathetic or admirable, or present graphic depictions of injury or death, among other proscriptions ( Motion Picture Production Code , online). The Hays Code is no longer in force, having been supplanted by the voluntary ratings system in use by most of the motion picture industry....
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This note was uploaded on 09/14/2009 for the course INF 304w taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '09 term at University of Texas.
- Spring '09