what is censorship?

There are two kinds of censorship: censorship of ideas and censorship of specific words/images.

In the first kind of censorship, an idea — or a set of information — is considered* so dangerous that no one is allowed to talk about it. This kind of censorship is usually associated with crazy dictators and old-timey authoritarian-type religions, but it crops up in the modern world from time to time.

The second kind of censorship is much more common: People are allowed to talk about an idea as long as they don’t say exactly what they mean use any “bad” words. You can’t say fuck on network TV, but you can say “the eff word” — which, as every child knows, means fuck — anywhere you want. Weird, huh?

If this kind of censorship was just about expletives, it might seem harmless and silly. But we run into trouble when using a “bad word” is considered** worse than having a terrible idea. We get public figures apologizing for using racist or sexist or variously -phobic words rather than apologizing for the destructive prejudices that led them to say the “bad” words in the first place.


*A good question to ask here is: Who says the idea is dangerous? Another one is: Why do they think so?

**Hey, there’s that “is considered” thing again. Maybe we should find out who is doing the considering and why those people are making up the rules.