Excessive censorship creates a less open and understanding populace
By Kerry Moynihan
The freedom to express oneself, whether that is through vocalism, written language or via assembly, is a human right.
I love every aspect of the media. While I have appreciated the media in its every form since I was a very small child, I realized at 14 years old that I wanted my career to be within the media.
That realization of a career path went from sports broadcasting to political commentary to a perpetual infatuation with film, on top of a love for stand-up comedy.
These blossoming infatuations also created the realization that censorship—that is, the tool utilized to destroy freedom of speech—is used to destroy art.
Censorship is a war-like mechanism, an enigma of negative thought and a fragment of society. In fact, the Nazis utilized censorship as early at 1933.
However, I want to keep this opinion mostly free of political connotation—not because I’m scared of what reactions I might receive for being political, but because I want readers to see freedom of speech not only as a Constitutional issue, but instead an infringement of art.
I suppose people do not understand that stand-up comedy is an act—in fact, it is an art form. I will often process a lot of how other people choose to treat me into a humorous account, because this is the only way I can do it without breaking down emotionally.
I am a stand-up comedian. I love stand-up comedy because it helps me process a lot of anxiety that I will consistently have due to nine brain surgeries and a VP shunt placed in my head that will always be there, thanks to a massive pilocytic astrocytoma and hydrocephalus that I was diagnosed with at four.
While that’s a mouthful, my medical history is always in the back of my mind when I hear about how people have been offended by my words.
Stand-up comedy gives me the power and control over my own life and my own decisions that I felt I was never given growing up and that I’ve felt people consistently will try to take away from me.
So, when I am told that my lifesaver, my remarkable art form, should somehow be censored because it hurts their feelings or they want to have some sort of unreasonable attack on me, I cannot help but question them.
Do they possess the ability to create art? Do they believe that society holds no creative purpose, and that we should all simply live our lives as if we are in a box, inept to understanding a more diverse society?
Many comedians utilize controversial topics in their acts. These are often referred to as “shock topics,” more often referred to as hate speech. Hate speech should not be treated as a crime. Hateful actions should be, but not hate speech. If you do not like what someone has to say, you turn him or her off.
The consequences of censoring what they want to say, for whatever reason, will be astronomical.
This censorship is not simply limited to entertainment, either. Groups that have been known to perpetuate hate speech and those affiliated with them tend to often suffer being stifled.
As my dad always says, regarding a KKK march in his hometown that ended up being cancelled because of opposition: “I would rather have the KKK march down our street so we know what they’re up to, as opposed to letting them hide out so we have no idea what they’re up to.”
The same goes for the Identity Evropa movement that is supposedly fighting for some sort of extremism involving those of European heritage. I don’t support the group, but they have the right to speak out if they want to.
Whether we want to believe it or not, these groups and many others want to express their ideas and we must give them the right to do so. Whether we want to support it or not, these people value their movement, and provided they don’t hurt anyone, they should be allowed to be heard.
To return to the entertainment context, I feel the same way for every art form that is out there, whether it is film, television, literature or physical art.
It is incorrect to censor people, be it on behalf of an organization or in regards to their form of expression. Once you have attempted to censor someone’s art, you are attempting to diminish their right to express themselves. Even if it’s something that you do not agree with, anyone should still have the right to express him or herself.
If someone does say something that you find to be hurtful, I encourage you to debate him or her. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. Instead of ripping down their work, start ripping down their arguments.