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Autor:   •  May 6, 2011  •  2,168 Words (9 Pages)  •  679 Views

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In 1799 our founding fathers wrote the first amendment of the United States Constitution. This stated, “Congress shall make to law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or pressвЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Dibacco A-45) The amendment gave American citizens the right to express themselves through speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition.

Since then, the government has created the Federal Communications Commission, which we know better as the FCC. The FCC is an independent United States government agency that was established in 1934 by the communications act. (FCC 1) They are currently in charge of regulations and censoring communications by radio, television, satellite, and cable in the fifty United States, District of Columbia, and all other United States possessions.

Most Americans that watch television or listen to the radio have heard about the FCC and its lawsuits involving major names like Howard stern, or Janet Jackson. In 2004 Miss. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed during the super bowl halftime show, giving a new name to exposure. Janet’s bare breast was shown on live television, uncensored, during one of ABC’s most viewed shows of the year. The event was talked about for months and the FCC had conclusively fined Janet Jackson for her indecent exposure. (Kinston 1)

This incident had given the FCC a chance to be stricter with what can be shown and said on TV and radio, fining radio personals like Howard Stern and the Opie and Anthony show for the crude jokes on drugs and adolescent sex. Trying to change the way these individuals talk has been the FCC job for over 75 years, but this was certainly not the beginning of censorship.

The word “Censorship originally came from the roman official, the censor. (Steffens 14) The censor was appointed by a group of roman leaders who called themselves “Comitia Centuriata”. (15) The Censor’s first job was to keep a count of the citizens in Rome; this was called the census and was often used by the government to collect taxes. (16) Over the years, the Censor became more powerful and began to set standards for behavior and manners in public, therefore establishing censors on what citizens did, wrote and said.

These censors have carried on through the ages and reappeared in the 1500’s when the first newspapers were printed. (Zeinert 13) These papers were written and distributed secretly throughout the city for years before the rulers had come across them. Publishers that were caught writing bad publicity in there newspapers were to be punished by the government. City rulers would whip the publishers or imprison them, and many often lost an ear r hand for angering or embarrassing royalty, but this didn’t stop the journalists.

The Idea of newspapers continued to be accepted around the world and in 1918 the United States congress had had enough. They soon passed the Sedition Act, which made is illegal for journalists to criticize the government in inappropriate ways. (21) Many citizens supported the Sedition act because the country was at war and they believed that we needed to be united, but the law was repelled in 1921, just three years after the war had ended. (22) Although these newspapers became a problem, then were the only ones causing chaos.

In 1988, the Supreme Court passed a new law, giving school teachers the right to censor articles written by students for school papers. (11) Articles concerning AIDS, abortion, drugs and sex were considered controversial. This new law brought on many protests from professional journalists. These journalists believed that students should be able to express themselves the way professional writers do. The protests soon got out of hand, especially at East Hazelwood High School, in East Hazelwood Missouri, when the school newspapers released an article concerning teenage pregnancy and the effects of divorce on children. The newspapers staff had been interviewing students when the principal had come across the story. Their principal was afraid that the students in the article would be identified and he ordered them to stop print of the issue, but the staff claimed censorship and refused to listen.

Five Years later, the case had reached the Supreme Court and was famously known as “Hazelwood School District versus Kuhmeier”. The School’s staff had lost the case, but one justice Brennan had agreed with them. Justice Brennan said that “the majority had violated the first amendments prohibitions against censorship of any student’s expression that neither disrupts class work, nor invades the rights of others”. (12) Justice Brennan’s comment had clamed the students, but he had also suggested that the teachers set guidelines to be followed by the students to avoid future episodes.

The idea of setting guidelines had begun in the early 1900’s when magazine editors realized something needed to be done. In religious magazines for example, women were not allowed to wear unnatural makeup, and superheroes were not allowed to be disrespectful towards their elders, swear, or do drugs. Although many magazines and their standards were made to attract the “average” citizen, new publications were being established, one of which was the “Girlie Magazine.”

Girlie magazines usually contained women wearing nearly nothing, and these pictures were shocking to the public. Many religious organizations and women’s groups were concerned about the morals of these magazines and were afraid they would be seen by young children, leaving many screaming for these to be censored; this was the beginning of what would later be pornography. These “girlie Magazines” soon became an issue in most cities, often showing women being beaten, raped and usually humiliated. The magazines became such a problem that in 1973 the Supreme Court had given communities the option to regulate obscene material and take it off of the shelves. (49) Most communities often chose not to regulate the material because they didn’t want to limit what their citizens could read. What the Supreme Court had not realized yet, was that giving communities the right to ban these magazines would not stop citizens from reading the same material in American books.

Over two hundred years ago, religious leaders, who were powerful then, thought that any books that promoted beliefs of a different culture were dangerous, so the king would eliminate these from public view. The books that the king had eliminated were posted on


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