The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees every American citizen the freedom of speech, which means a right to freely express one’s thoughts and ideas. The freedom of speech is an integral American value—one of the pillars on which American society was built. However, the right to express one’s thoughts without constraint can be controversial; expressing hatred, for example, is also allowed. The main issue here is to guarantee others’ safety and make sure a person expressing hatred would not go further than expressing his or her position without committing illegal acts. Censorship is meant to regulate such controversies; on the other hand, censorship can be compared to a poisonous gas: it can turn against the attacker if the wind changes (ACLU).
The first recorded case of censorship in the United States occurred in 1734-1735, when a New York-based newspaper printer John Peter Zenger, who was accused of slandering the governor of New York (Zenger published a seditious libel criticizing the authorities) and was taken into custody. Zenger was defended in court by Andrew Hamilton, who proclaimed in his famous speech “Truth cannot be Libel.” This court case was historic in terms of empowering the freedom of press by the Constitution, even though there were numerous attempts to limit it—such as John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts adopted in 1798, or the Sedition Act of 1917 (Censorship in America).
Today, the U.S. media finds itself in an ambivalent situation. It is shielded from revealing their sources, as it is protected by the First Amendment, and Obama’s administration even offered a federal shielding law for journalists. Besides, digital media sources and the Internet are more difficult to control, monitor, and censor. On the other hand, media ownership, combined with financial issues, traditional institutions trying to stay afloat and prevent the appearance of undesired information and political partisanship, as well as the government’s attempt to reveal whistleblowers, negatively affect the freedom of speech (Index on Censorship).
As for the quality of content being published online and in printed media, censorship is mostly applied to materials that match such criteria as obscenity, provocations, pornography, religiously or culturally sensitive issues, calls for violence, and certain other problematic topics, such as racial discrimination.
At the same time, it seems censorship is not limited only by these fields. Copyright legislature and surveillance pose one of the biggest threats for a free distribution of information over the Internet. As for surveillance in general, Google Transparency reports testify the United States takes first place in the world for the numbers of requests for users’ personal data; the number of court orders for content removal is also among the highest in the world (after Brazil). Considering that media companies in the United States tend to comply with governmental requests regarding users’ personal data, Americans tend to self-censor their electronic communications to avoid possible legislative issues (Index on Censorship).
The situation with the freedom of speech in the United States is controversial. Though it is guaranteed by the First Amendment as a right to freely express one’s thoughts and ideas, there are topics that are being monitored and censored, such as pornography, obscenity, religiously and culturally sensitive problems, calls for violence, and several others. American journalists are usually protected by state laws, which guarantee them their ability to work. At the same time, the American government is known to request telecommunication companies for users’ personal data, which results into Americans self-censoring their electronic communications. Copyright legislation is also considered to be a threat to the free distribution of information in media.
“United States: Free Expression Constrained by Cultural and Political Factors.” Index on Censorship. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2014. <http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2013/08/united-states-free-expression-constrained-by-cultural-and-political-factors/>.
“Censorship.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2014. <https://www.aclu.org/free-speech/censorship>.
“History of Censorship in The U.S.A.” Censorship in America. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. <http://www.censorshipinamerica.com/p/history-of-censorship-in-usa.html>.
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Writing an Expository Essay
When students are assigned to write an essay on censorship, they often do not understand why they should write it. Most of them do not understand the essence and importance of censorship.
It is normal for students to have all doubts about writing an essay on censorship. The most important step in their essay writing process is to understand the role of censorship in the modern world.
Students should take care of censorship because it deprives the freedom of the individual. The censorship limits the information and ideas that circulate within a society.
From the short explanation offered above, you already have an obscure picture of what type of essay you are going to write. It is likely that essays on censorship take on an argumentative structure.
In order make your essay writing process easier, we would like to draw your attention to simple tips that will guide you in argumentative essay writing:
Write a Good Thesis Statement
One of the most important steps in writing your essay is to structure a strong thesis. After having structured the thesis, you must add it to the last part of the introductory paragraph. A well-written introductory paragraph will not only attract the attention of your audience but also include a clear thesis statement that hints at what is to come. Moreover, a proper introductory paragraph leads to the next part of the essay in a seamless manner. As a result, your reader will see the connection between two parts of the argumentative essay.
Write the Body Paragraphs
Each body paragraph of your essay must have its own idea. Body paragraphs should contain evidence to support the reason. It is vital for you to document all your sources. Readers should have an opportunity to check the authenticity of all facts you have used.
Write a Good Concluding Paragraph
In the concluding paragraph, you should reiterate your thesis. You should also remind readers your research question and show them how you have answered it successfully. The conclusion is all about summing-up your argument.
We hope these simple tips will help you to write a great argumentative essay about censorship. Follow these tips mentioned above as well as keep in mind the importance of censorship and your motivation to discuss certain aspects of this problem.
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