Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
27 views
27 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
44 views
44 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
44 views
44 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
77 views
77 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats
News
11 views
11 views

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats

Jessica Hubbard - September 20, 2018
333 Views

The Big Debate: Should media be sanitised to protect citizens?

Agree

William Singh

The classic problem with any motion containing words like “sanitised” is it’s almost impossible to argue that we should censor, but instinctively most people will be able to think of things they’d rather not see in media. The word censorship immediately makes us cautious- and rightly so. But we have always had authorities to regulate content shown in media- and it is surely a more radical proposition to argue that we ought to have no regulation at all.

It is perpetually in vogue for artists to push the boundaries of acceptability, but that does not mean that every piece of media need be a politically-motivated think piece. The basic truth is this- most people most of the time sit down to enjoy media as a place of simple escapism. Being ‘edgy’ or boundary-pushing for the sake of it where there may be real world practical consequences for doing so is neither essential nor helpful for media or society as a whole.

As a particularly striking example: the House of Commons Health Select Committee recently made headlines for allegedly promoting ‘censorship’ of media by changing broadcast requirements on showing suicide in media. But what was the specific change recommended?

MPs say the term ‘excessive detail’ should be replaced with ‘unnecessary detail’. The idea is not that suicide is too difficult or serious a subject for media so must be censored- rather it is about making sure programmers consider the necessity of showing practical details, such as specific methods or promoting the image that suicide could be ‘quick, easy and painless’.

The move has been supported by MPs of all parties, as well as NGOs such as the Samaritans, whose Chief Executive said “we are pleased that our work with the media to ensure that the portrayal and media coverage of suicide and attempted suicide is responsible has been acknowledged. We know that strengthening media codes of practice in this area will mean fewer people are put at risk because of irresponsible content.”

Does the opposite side think we should get rid of any such code of conduct? Call it censorship if you like, but the case for public broadcasters recognising their responsibilities is long-standing and common sense.

The fundamental question posed by this debate is this: can depictions in media influence real world attitudes and actions, and if they can, does that justify some level of regulation on content for the purposes of public protection?

To be clear: this side is not arguing that we need to sanitise ideas or difficult concepts. The public deserve the breadth and opportunity presented by free expression in art. But it does not follow that we can ignore the reality that some media depictions do have genuine harmful consequences on public safety. The task is to regulate in such a way as not to compromise either safety or expression- and we should not give up and decide that that is impossible.

The first is, I would suggest, widely accepted by most, particularly on the political left. We treat media narratives as reflective of the world, and as such they inform our own world views- this, combined with the practical argument that specific details of some issues are both unnecessary for a storytelling narrative and practically damaging in the real world, make the argument for so-called ‘censorship’ common sense.

Disagree

Georgia Grace

Not once in the history of media and the arts has censorship been a good idea. True, it may seem like a leap to go from softening themes of suicide and drug abuse, to the cultural authoritarianism of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, but the comparisons are there for a reason.

To use a cliché, censorship is a slippery slope. And that’s because there are no definitive boundaries, only subjectivity. What’s acceptable to one person is offensive or dangerous to another, and there’s no correct answer as to who gets to make that decision.

The modern media has developed age ratings and trigger warnings to advise potential audiences on matters that may be troubling to them. Contrary to popular right-of-centre opinion, trigger warnings are the antithesis of censorship; they are exceptionally useful at giving audiences back their freedom to choose.

By informing people of the potentially disturbing issues they may face in the media, we lose the necessity to sanitise it.

It’s true that these kinds of warnings are not always possible. You can’t always help noticing things such as newspaper front covers, street art, online adverts and television shows in public waiting rooms. In these instances, I think it’s wise to advise individuals to use their discretion.

I do for instance support the campaign to move pornographic magazines in stores away from the eye-line of children. However, I wouldn’t describe this measure as sanitisation. It’s about creating an appropriate space between certain media and certain audiences, not about editing the media itself.

The arts are an important platform for self-expression, and identifying and engaging with social issues. While those issues may be upsetting to some, they’re presence can be of great comfort and benefit to others.

J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is a particularly controversial novel that has experienced a wave of censorship across the United States, especially due to its association with the assassination and attempted assassination respectively of John Lennon and Ronald Reagan. But to many, The Catcher in the Rye’s accurate and nuanced depiction of teenage angst, isolation and mental illness is a great source of comfort and self-validation.

Concerns have arisen recently over the sensationalist and detailed approach journalists have taken when reporting real life events such as self-harm and suicide. Of course, this is troubling, but forcing people to discuss issues in a particular way simply won’t work in this ever-expansive digital age, in which the boundaries between journalism and social media are increasingly blurred.

Instead, we can continue to educate everyone on the realities of mental illness, and all of the support that is out there.

It’s also worth considering that the values we currently hold in society are not cemented in moral supremacy. If this proposed sanitation was implemented 50 years ago, we would be banning positive representations of LGBTQ+ people and interracial relationships. Are we really so naïve to believe our understanding of what is right and wrong today is definitively correct?

There are certainly actions we can take to protect audiences from particular elements of the media, but sanitation is an oppressive, assumptive and patronising method of doing so which does not correlate with our values of freedom and expression.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
27 views
27 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
44 views
44 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
44 views
44 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
77 views
77 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats
News
11 views
11 views

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats

Jessica Hubbard - September 20, 2018

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
27 views
Arts
27 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
37 views
Film & Theatre
37 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Anonymous - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
44 views
Sports
44 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
44 views
Arts
44 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
77 views
Arts
77 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1138 views1
Campus News
1138 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats
News
11 views
News
11 views

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats

Jessica Hubbard - September 20, 2018

The University of Sussex Students' Union (USSU) has apologised after 'sexist' beermats were found in 'Dig in' Boxes in Freshers' Welcome Bags. The beermats were provided by…

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018
News
79 views1
News
79 views1

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy Lecturer at Sussex, was accused of making transphobic comments in July 2018. This followed various interviews and blog posts by Stock. Stock told…

Welcome 2018 Freshers!
Campus News
82 views
Campus News
82 views

Welcome 2018 Freshers!

Billie-Jean Johnson - September 15, 2018

Ah, Freshers. You’ve no idea the amazing year you have ahead of you! As you read this now, you’ve probably met your flatmates and maybe even met…

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity
Opinion
76 views
Opinion
76 views

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy lecturer at Sussex University, met with controversy after criticising the government’s reform of the Gender Recognition Act (2004). The amendment would ‘de-medicalise’ the…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
395 views
Arts
395 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
396 views
Arts
396 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
373 views
Arts
373 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
433 views
Arts
433 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
449 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
390 views
Arts
390 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
365 views
Arts
365 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
556 views
Campus News
556 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
314 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
919 views
Arts
919 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
375 views
Arts
375 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…