Censorship: The Silent Killer

If my writing is censored,
Then what would be the use of writing.
If, my thoughts and ideas are controlled then what should I think
Imposed in walls of dictatorship which undermines my right to be myself, threatening democracy.
I become a no one.

The use of censorship is without doubt a silent way of suffocating innovative ideas and a direct threat to freedom of expression. Citizens in a given state do well in fighting for their rights and protesting against Authorities which deprive them of this right. But, it often comes at a price. Notwithstanding, the ongoing progress in the world, the use of censorship is still widely used across the globe.Last year in Malta we experienced situations where creative and theatrical works were being censored and forbidden from the public eye just because of certain language and certain scenes involved. This sounded rather absurd and creative expression was dictated by a Board of Conservatives who could not draw an objective line between what is artistic expression and what is moral. As a result, artists and creators were demoralized and their creative expression restrained, hence having effect on the final result on their work.

Another recent example would be the uprisings in the Maghreb region. Throughout these last weeks, the eyes of the world were on this region, most particularly, Libya. What we all have witnessed in Libya is to what extent censorship can arrive to in a dictatorial state. In the case of Libya, accurate information has been withheld and Muammar Gaddafi s’control over reporters and journalists have made it utterly difficult for them to provide detailed information on what was really taking place during the protests. The world has seen the massacre and the outcries of the people through various eye witness reports and hidden coverage.

It was also reported that residents in Libya could access the Al Jazeera’s coverage as the site was blocked in the country. Nevertheless, the riots were a response to this type of censorship which unfortunately led to the Genocide of masses of innocent people. Even, to date there is an element of denial from the Head of State.

In other days, Libyan citizens may have travelled or used other form of network and were able to compare their life in their country with other countries. This has empowered them to fight for their rights.

Wikileaks too, have contributed too in unravelling many sources which were hidden from the world and concerned only certain states.

Censorship of ideas, of information and creative works were always a way of controlling and restraining public opinion. Throughout history, we have read of many forms of controlling peoples’ minds.

Such cases go back to the dark days of Catholic Inquisition, then in Spain under the Franco regime, in times of the Iron Curtain and in some states in the Middle East, to name a few. Writers, educators, journalist across the globe have been penalized for expressing their views and influencing the public. Some were tortured and killed in prisons.

In my views, censorship of information is unjust and violates Human Rights. Much to our dismay, it appears that certain Authorities are still being allowed to censor whatever they want for their own particular reasons.

To add with this, censoring this type of communication is most often represented as justified and as protecting the public.

Similar situations jeopardize freedom of expression and the likelihood is that democracy is subverted. Also, it shows lack of respect to the public who in other circumstances should be presented with comprehensive and unbiased information on government politics and current events.

Resorting to censorship intoxicates people s’ minds which as a result they end up making decisions based on information which is withdrawn for the purpose of power and control. Censorship shuts the voices of people who want change and promulgates loss of dignity and violates rights and the right to objective information. Democracy is therefore undermined and loses its political liberty where even journalists fail to transmit accurate and objective information.

In other scenarios, in an ideal democracy the role of the mass media is to provide the general public with accurate comprehensive information and careful review of such information. Access to the media is essential to the health of democracy where citizens have a right to clear and even-handed information. In a given society a level of antagonistic relationship between the media and governments create a healthy environment. It leads to open discussions and the transmission of objective information leading towards a progressive society. Also, creative expression is the pathway to innovative ideas which shape the future.

So, no to censorship.