Censorship In Our Time, Its Forms
You don’t have to go back to communist russia to experience it. You don’t have to be in apartheid South Africa to feel restricted by it. You don’t have to be in north korea to understand how important information is. More importantly, how powerful information can make the average citizen. However, in the modern world censorship has become a different beast. It has evolved, transformed and adapted into creating a social atmosphere filled with tension. This form of censorship is a subtle type. The type that essentially governs our everyday interactions. To an extent, this is essential. But only to an extent. This form of censorship isn’t one enforced by law but by your teacher, your random passerby, your average twitter user or your mother. This form of censorship has been coined as the act of being PC/Politically Correct.
As time and events have developed so has social norms and acceptance. People are now more open minded than they have ever been before. More people are progressively thinking especially amongst the younger generations like ours. But as history always repeats itself, it becomes increasingly clear that the more things change; the more they stay the same. Being PC came about after the horrible injustices of the past. People being discriminated against, abused, tortured and marginalised based on arbitrary reasons such as religion, race, sexual orientation, gender or ethnicity. These events brought about a hypersensitive reaction and now we live in a world whereby we can’t even speak in the wrong tone of voice without being heavily scrutinised. This is where the censorship comes through.
People are now forced to censor their thoughts probably more than ever because there are an infinite amount of things that could be considered offensive or derogatory. People are now afraid to speak their minds because they fear alienation, being shamed and/or being mislabelled. This is especially relevant as in the era of social media, where nothing disappears, what is said about you can be extremely detrimental to your image and reputation.
In the era of fake news people only hear the 1st story and not necessarily the true story. As a result, everyone walks on eggshells in order to protect the feelings of complete strangers. Actually no. People are protecting themselves. With more platforms to speak your mind, there seems to be less room to speak it freely. However, there are obviously different nuances to being politically correct. It’s essentially a spectrum whereby there are 2 extremes on either end. I agree that there is no place for racism, bigotry and discrimination in today’s society. But I don’t agree in bad mouthing the first person who has a different perspective from you.
For example, in 2017, 3 students at Maritzburg College decided to post a picture holding a political shirt that read “EFF: our last hope of getting our land back”. These boys faced disciplinary action for exercising their freedom of speech. Whether we agree with their views or not we should be able to tolerate that they have the inherent right to speak their mind. On the other side of the spectrum are the likes of Penny Sparrow and Vicki Momberg. Recently, Momberg was the first South African to ever be imprisoned for racism. This following a viral video in which she used multiple racial slurs against police officers whom were merely trying to assist her.
These situations happen often and not in isolation. However, there will always be bigotry. Personally, the contentious issue isn’t the arbitrary abuse but instead the treatment of said offenders and the repercussions of their actions. It has been said by Trevor Noah that social exile and being fired won’t ever really make the situation better. It is through reason and civilised discourse that we can make rid of prejudice or even simply opening up one’s mind to the unknown. It is easy to fear the unknown. Even harder to accept what we can’t understand but the most powerful thing we can do as people is share perspectives and information. More importantly, to be as open and willing to receive information as we are when sharing our perspectives.
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