Censorship in the 21st Century

Censorship in the 21st century still exists under the authority of government and decision makers.The control of information and ideas has existed for centuries. In Farhenheit 451 censorship was achieved through the elimination of books, plays, films, television, radio stations, and communication among citizens. And book burning was one of the ways to censor written information. In the 21st century Internet censorship has evolved to take the place of book burning. The existence of the Internet has now made book burning redundant because books no longer need to be printed and shipped in order for people to access them. The Internet also allows electronic copies of books and other information to be accessed an infinite amount of times. Even destroying a server doesn’t ensure that a particular website has not stored the book or information elsewhere. Yet the access of information available on the Internet, particularly if it is destructive should be censored. There are websites which are “blacklisted” by government agencies. If people are caught on them they can be fined thousands of dollars.

Even though book burning is a very limited way to censor information, especially in the age of the Internet and unlimited access to information, I believe it still plays a symbolic role in some societies to demonstrate the views and opinions expressed in written print. It continues to represent suppression and control over societies. “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” (Montag:Fahrenheit 451 page 51) On the positive side books still represent freedom of speech, knowledge, the lives of the authors who wrote them, a sneak peek into history and generations before us. “Do You know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores.”
(Faber: Farhenheit 451 page 79) As Faber explains to Montag, it is not the books themselves he is looking for but the meaning they contain.

Laura O’Keefe

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