Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Censorship and the Blending of Good and Evil

I was looking at articles that had to do with censorship today, and I found one talking about the censorship in Iran. Apparently the government and Culture Ministry have a tight lockdown on who can publish and what is allowed to be published. One thing I found interesting is the fact that authors aren't allowed to even mention God, whether they would be denouncing him or praising him. He can't be mentioned at all. Likewise, they can't mention alcohol, even if they are talking about its harmful effects. This made me think about a passage in Aeropagitica, where Milton is talking about good and evil. Milton says, " Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably." Milton uses this idea to show the useless force of censorship. 

In regards to this idea of good and evil being inseparable, it shows how censorship doesn't really work because in order to truly protect the masses from evil or things deemed bad, good things would have to be censored as well. I can see this in the article I read. The Iran Culture Ministry went an extra step to remove all things remotely related to something deemed bad. So an author couldn't make any references to something like alcohol, because it was seen as something not good for the people. It didn't matter if the author was denouncing alcohol or simply talking about it. It was all terrible in the eyes of the censors. In a weird way, I can see where the censors were coming from. They wanted to take away all mentions of alcohol to protect the readers. It wouldn't really work, but I can understand their reasoning. 

What I don't understand was their reasoning behind not allowing authors to mention God at all. They couldn't even praise him because the Culture Ministry felt that only certain authors who were faithful revolutionary followers were worthy to mention God. That to me is less of a concern for the masses and more of a political movement. And I think that's where one of the biggest issues with censorship lies. Once it becomes mixed with politics, censorship is no longer about the masses; it's about the people in power. 

That's something I think Milton was arguing against, which was how censorship doesn't serve the purpose of the people. Rather, it serves the purpose of the censors, the government. I hadn't thought about how political censorship really is. Most of the time, it's not the state of the masses, but the power granted to the censors that becomes the driving force for censorship. Seeing that, I feel like I understand a little better what Milton was fighting against. 

Here's a link to the article:


  1. It's always about power and political agendas. It's about people getting the power they feel they deserve at the expense of everyone else.

  2. Censorship is extremely political. China's got a lot of similarities to this kind of censorship, especially with their "great firewall". I'd say though that it's hard to conclude from looking at this kind of censorship that censorship as a whole is bad or doesn't work, but yes politically driven censorship usually falls on its face and ends up looking quite ridiculous.

  3. I once went to a film forum about Russian movies that snuck past the Soviet censors despite containing often really blatant criticisms of the Soviet government. One example that I remember was a cartoon about blue dinosaurs (I think the title was something like "The Blue Dinosaurs" or something like that). The speaker pointed out that the censors must have looked right past it, thinking that a cartoon that looked like it was for kids wouldn't make any sort of analogy about the problems of the Soviet government. So in their case they were able to get past censors based on the form of the media that delivered the criticism (a kiddie-looking cartoon in this case).

    Really cool article. Thanks for posting it!