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The Forum > Article Comments > The art of censorship > Comments

The art of censorship : Comments

By Christopher van Opstal, published 28/12/2005

Christopher van Opstal argues student publications may often go too far but should they be censored?

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The quashing of treasonable, seditious, libellious or obscene speech seems quite sensible. Why should student papers, for the sake of being sensational and thus ensuring their readership, claim a right above that of the rest of our society?

Even in the USA, with their "absolute" right to free speech (as opposed to our common law moderated right, knowing that the authority of the state overrides freedom where necessary) this right has been undermined by laws such as hate speech and sedition-styled laws. They are coming to a realisation that our tradition did over hundreds of years of the development of common law.

Students should realise that they are less important than they think they are. Being on the cusp of higher learning (well, in most cases) they assume that their rights are greater than the man who simply works. If they do not show due piety to the authority of our society, then I hope their little papers do get shut down.
Posted by DFXK, Wednesday, 28 December 2005 10:30:08 AM
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Christopher,
Your writing is stilted. It is hard to understand.
Self-sensorship does that.
Why don't you write what you really think
Posted by GlenWriter, Wednesday, 28 December 2005 11:02:06 AM
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I wonder if I could print a paper and name it 'The Taxpayer'. What if I advised my readers that it might be a good idea to camp outside a university and ambush university types and belt the tripe out of them. Just as a suggestion not as a hard and fast rule.
Posted by Sage, Wednesday, 28 December 2005 11:51:20 AM
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Sage,
What you say is free speech. We don't have free speech in Australia.
Posted by GlenWriter, Wednesday, 28 December 2005 12:11:38 PM
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Glenwriter, where in the world does "free" anything exist if free means to do as you please without any outside imposed constraints and regardless of the imapct on others. I'm not sure where you are going with your posts so the following is more broad comment than a specific response to your post, I'm not trying to read more into your posts than you have said.

What we have is freedom within a range of boundaries. Those boundaries are set for a couple of reasons
- someone imposing their world view on others. The prohibition of "obscene" material to consenting adults would be an example of this.
- an attempt to minimise the harm to others from a persons attempts to exercise their "freedoms" eg, the promotion of shoplifting and the promotion of bashing of university students would fall into this category.

There may be other broad reasons for the limits but right now I can't think of any which don't fall into these categories.

In the case of student newspapers and the like it may be the case that some editors seek to use the paper to further their own preferences and agenda's over the preferences and agenda's of those paying for the production of the publication. How willing are the papers which might want to post an article on shoplifting to also post an article on the benefits of living within the law. Editors fighting VSU to publish an article promoting VSU etc. Is their censorship of idea's they don't like better than somebody elses censorship?

A balancing act which should allow wide freedom to those who act with some care about the consequences of thie actions whilst limiting those who seek to abuse those freedoms.

R0bert
Posted by R0bert, Wednesday, 28 December 2005 1:25:18 PM
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I think it is important to understand that civil dissent and disobedience contributes to the flourishing of a democracy. And student papers are, in my opinion, the only platform for inflammatory topics and language.

So Robert, I could ask you a similar question: how willing is the mainstream media to post an article on living within the law to also post an article on shoplifting (which by the way criticised capitalism and is therefore part of our right to political communication)?

With regards to VSU, why should student editors wish to promote VSU when the mainstream media has already tackled that job quite well. Your idea of objectivity in this context seems a bit too idealistic.

Students' associations are elected bodies. This means that students have the CHOICE to vote for left or right, some universities even carrying out elections for their student editors.

So If I didn't vote for the Liberals, why should I respect or adhere to the laws proposed and implemented by Howard and Co. Do I get the choice to reject paying taxes, because I feel the government is not allocating funds properly? No. Equally, I donít think it is for government bodies to implement moral protocols that distinguish between right and wrong.

VSU doesnít merely silence left-wing-tainted speech, but political speech altogether.
Posted by markdmark, Wednesday, 28 December 2005 2:27:18 PM
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