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The definition of censorship is the control of information and ideas circulated within a society. In the 20th Century, censorship was achieved through the examination of books, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports, and other forms of communication for the purpose of altering or suppressing ideas found to be objectionable or offensive. The rationales for censorship have varied, with some censors targeting material considered indecent or obscene; heretical or blasphemous; or seditious or treasonous. Thus, ideas have been suppressed under the guise of protecting basic social institutions: Family, Church, and State.
To understand censorship, and the impulse to censor, it is necessary to strip away the shock epithet value that is attached to the word at first utterance. One must recognize that censorship and the ideology supporting it go back to ancient times, and that every society has had customs, taboos, or laws by which speech, dress, religious observance, and sexual expression were regulated.
In Athens, where democracy first emerged, censorship was known as a means of enforcing the orthodoxy. Indeed, Plato was the first recorded thinker to formulate a rationale for intellectual, religious, and artistic censorship. In his ideal state outlined in The Republic, official censors would prohibit mothers and nurses from relating tales deemed bad or evil. Plato also proposed that unorthodox notions about God or the hereafter be treated as crimes and that formal procedures be established to suppress heresy. Freedom of speech in Ancient Rome was reserved for those in positions of authority...etc.