Language is power. It’s the way a single word can have a significant impact on a person’s whole identity – from head to toes. On one person, or on one thousand. 7 billion people and just one word. Or just one person, but 7 billion words for an idea to get to them. In any case, language is power. It has an effect, regardless if it’s positive or negative.
I prefer the positive, intended or not. In our perception we all do, but points of view stop being collinear after words pass through one’s interpretation filter. Whenever this reaches extreme peaks or it is believed to have such a negative power that would overcome the agreeable graphic of respect, censorship is imposed.
Censorship is a big word. I looked it up in the dictionary and the definition is as clear as the lack of attention paid to the connotations of the terminology used. Ethics, moral values, religion, politics. I wasn’t satisfied with the explanation I got, so I decided to come up with my own. As the idea of it lately has become a delicate subject to the world, to me, although it has always been.
There are numerous human atrocities that, without doubt, undergo censorship. But, as mentioned before, there are less aggressive situations where factors overlap the defining line and this becomes a problem concerning subjectivity between the writer and the reader. There is no need to give examples to support this, and this is not an act of censorship. Words are written and spoken with the purpose of conveying messages. The person these words belong to has the desire to be heard and understood. Here are my foolish questions. Regarding the inhumane situation presented daily on the news: would we still need censoring processes if all our actions were kind? Regarding offensive personal thoughts: would we still need censoring processes if all our ideas were harmless?
People fight for freedom of speech and feel repulsed if their words are censored and I strongly believe this liberty is one of the most essential rights. But this is not the main problem with censorship, it is not the risk you take when you express yourself, it’s about what’s going on inside. Censorship should not exist and not because of the fundamental rights we claim to have, but because the deeply rooted negative things we do and say should not be part of us. Some people say they are struggling with educating themselves to see the good in everything. This is wrong for many reasons. Censorship is still likely to be needed, because there is a balance in praising one of the sides too much, maybe even the wrong one, while aggressively attacking the other one. Furthermore, forcing yourself to admire and acknowledge just the positive side doesn’t diminish or destroy the human tendency to focus on the negatives, which is more emphasized now. There is no correct answer. In a moment of reflection, if I were able to reconstruct the world in its ideal format, I would take away the whole existence of the evil, from intentions to memories. Where would we be then?
To avoid rough censorship and a vision believed to be as impossible as my abstract one, people sometimes choose a symmetric solution, by omitting certain shades of their statements. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, language is power. Used in an intelligent way, its power crosses the world’s limits even when being intentionally left out. That is the beauty of language and shouldn’t be the beauty of censorship. Definition: not found.
Written by Raluca Ciubotariu
Edited by Hannah Cook and Eng Ea