Call It Quasi-Censorship?

Call It Quasi-Censorship?

Censorship is an attack on a fundamental human right, but one should be careful in applying the term. Censorship is a term that really should only be applied to attempts to completely prevent freedom of expression by suppressing something from any public exposure.

So those silly warnings attached to music or films about “mature content” or “intended for mature audiences” aren’t censorship. (Ironically, a lot of the material so labeled is clearly intended for very immature adults.) And it is egocentric and absurd for writers and other artists to cry “censorship!” when an editor or a curator decides not to use their work. The amount of public exposure something gets is inevitably determined to a great extent by editorial decisions, and these ‘gate-keepers’ do serve a useful purpose, even it their decisions are just motivated by financial considerations. Of course, being able to bypass them is important, and that has become a lot easier than in the past. Just consider YouTube or all the blogs on the Internet. (Unfortunately, amount of exposure here is often determined by the extent of uncritical, majority opinion.)

However, there should be a term for wide spread editorial biases that have tremendous effects and are too often determined less by critical evaluation than by less noble financial or political considerations. (‘Quasi-censorship’ isn’t quite accurate, but I’ll use that term for lack of better one.)

The main stream news media is one example. What makes front-page news isn’t necessarily what is objectively most important or significant. It is largely determined by what will be of popular interest. That is why some good-looking, teen-age, pop singer who indulges in on-stage exhibitionism or behaves like an irresponsible idiot in public shares the front page with world affairs. (Of course, important new scientific discoveries or interesting arts news is relegated to the back pages or special, niche sections.)

One solution is to search out ‘alternative’ news sources, but most of these are so blatantly biased that they are totally untrustworthy. They only exist to please those sharing their biases. They consistently take advantage of what is called ‘confirmation bias’. Whether your political leanings are liberal or conservative, you can find an alternative ‘news’ source that will support that political agenda, albeit sometimes with valid news that hasn’t had enough public exposure, but too often with dubious ‘reportage’. Try to find one that includes any articles contrary to its always-obvious political agenda. It isn’t easy. © Ken Stange 2012-2015