Censoring Our Internet?


Meredith Nash and Julia Barshak

Should the internet be censored? Two top student correspondents duel it out in this debate.


Argument for Censorship of the Internet: 

Substance abuse, profanity, pornography, and eating disorders are all among the horrors that can be seen with ease on our internet. Coming close to the influence of peer pressure is what is perceived from our internet use. Pictures, articles, videos, and all of the above can influence any teenage mind to retaliate in a way that can be found as rebellious or simply because they thought of it as “something cool”.

There’s a significant difference between filtering someone’s mind while taking away their right to speak then there is to minimize the amount of hate speech that can be found on the internet or even television. From the earliest ages we are guarded with pass codes on TV shows above our years and masked from the harsh and cruel reality of the internet. Why do we have to be?

If such “hate speech” never showed up on the internet to begin with, we wouldn’t be fighting this government firewall in order to protect our loved ones. Parents will not always be sitting behind a child’s shoulder waiting for them to come upon something that could ultimately alter their whole way of growing up.

In the majority of middle schools hateful or offensive websites are blocked through the school, but within reason. Yes, it occasionally gets to the point where a website that has one bad mention of a war that happened several decades ago is blocked, but others are censored for our protection. However, there’s a little something called liability, where someone who believes in their “freedom of the press” can be arrested for saying something on the internet that is found harmful.

It’s not the freedom of speech that is targeted in internet censorship; it’s the posers, the hackers, the theft of personal information, the wide spread of pornography, and the social disconnect of people because of online game addictions. The internet should be regulated to ensure the cyber wellness of people using it. It’s not enough for the parents to tell their children not to go to pornographic websites because there is no assurance for the children to follow what their parents have said.

There are also the websites that many parents don’t touch base on – the pro anorexia websites. The encouragement to ultimately ruin your body so that you’ve completely gotten to the point of dehumanizing yourself. Those are the things that shouldn’t be recognized as freedom of speech, rather the influence that causes the horrible controversy to begin with.

Likewise to everything we endure in life, there is the good and the bad but there are certain precautions that should be taken to minimize the bad as much as possible.


Argument Against Censorship of the Internet:

Today someone can google pretty much anything; that is its purpose. Why fix what is not broken? The internet is performing its desired function. It is not the problem, people are. What is put online is put there by people, censoring the internet is nothing more than an attempted quick fix to the underlying problem of human character.

Censoring the internet goes against one of our most basic freedoms, freedom of speech. The internet is made to give anyone the opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts. One cannot erase all negative and inappropriate content from the internet because one cannot eliminate such content from life. Online or offline, it still exists. Nothing is achieved by attempting to censor the internet. Nothing that is, except for limiting our rights.

One of the greatest aspects of America is the amount of freedom we are given, including freedom of speech and to limit this is unconstitutional. It’s not directly hurting anyone, because people choose what they do on the internet and if they stumble across something they don’t wish to see, simply close the window.

Of course there is content that is not meant for children and this is an unchangeable fact. It is up to parents to set limits they see fit for their own children and that is as far as censorship should go. On a global scale, the internet should not be censored.

Moreover, it is unreasonable to assume the internet can be censored. According to iacpsocialmedia.org, every minute of the day, 571 new websites and 347 new blogs are created. There is no plausible way we can keep up with the current content, not to mention the content added daily.

Even if we could achieve this impossible task, it would not have the desired effect in most cases and we have the right to freedom of expression. It is our right to freedom of the press and to free speech. These freedoms are the basis of what we as Americans pride ourselves on.

If we start limiting our rights, the outcome will only be negative. The internet is not perfect, but then again perfection does not exist.