Censorship Doesn’t Pay

By May 11, 2007

Some students at Framingham State College are finding out the hard way that newspaper theft and censorship don’t pay off in the end. According to The Boston Globe, seven students attended a lacrosse match with letters of a friend’s name painted across their midriffs to show support for him. A student reporter saw these women and thought it would make an excellent picture for the next edition of the campus paper. The editors must have agreed and decided to run the picture on the front page. After the paper was distributed on campus, two of the students in the picture saw that they were featured in the paper and were very unhappy with how they appeared in the photo. So, these women decided to steal stacks of the paper in order to stop people from seeing it. After a few days, the students felt badly about their actions and turned in the papers to the campus police. Soon after, the incident became local and now national news, with the very same picture appearing in national newspapers and all over the internet. Clearly, the scheme backfired. Instead of the photo being relegated to a rather small college newspaper, it is now the subject of a national story and can be viewed by just about everyone.
 
The moral of this story is that censoring speech, be it controversial political opinions or just simply a mundane photo, is never the answer. It almost always has the opposite effect of what is trying to be achieved. Acts of censorship create more attention instead of suppressing it. For example, in 1964, Tropic of Cancer was found to be obscene by several state courts and was banned in some cities and states. These acts of censorship didn’t suppress interest in the book; in fact, it did the exact opposite. A national buzz and media firestorm were created that actually increased interest and sales. Another, more modern, example would be Michael Moore’s controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11. Many film experts have speculated that the interest in the movie increased drastically when Disney censored the film and refused to release it because of its highly politically charged content. This action increased media attention and interest, and when the film was released by a different company, it had record box office returns and won several awards.
 
As the two students at Framingham State College found out the hard way, censorship never pays off. Simply put, if you don’t want a message to get out, then don’t attempt to censor it.

Schools: Framingham State University