Censorship for the children

In an age in which freedom of expression is revered as an undeniable right, Socrates’ suggestions about education in The Republic seem to violate the basic principles of liberty and freedom. “Then we must first of all, it seems, supervise the storytellers. We’ll select their stories whenever they are fine or beautiful and reject them when they aren’t,”(377c) suggests Socrates. A modern-day person will most certainly brand this as unwarranted censorship. However, I believe that modern-day educators can learn something important from Socrates.

Childhood is a critical period in a person’s development. Values, principles, and habits developed in this period persist throughout a person’s lifetime. According to Socrates, “it’s at that time that it is most malleable and takes on any pattern one wishes to impress on it.”(377b) A child’s moral sense is not fully developed; he or she sometimes cannot distinguish the good from the bad. Consequently, it is completely logical and reasonable to expose children to the good and justice, and deny them access to the bad and evil. With the advent of the Internet, children can easily access billions of webpages, images, and videos. A child can easily pick up any bad habit or principle off the Internet; the opportunities are endless. As a result, carefully censoring the Internet for children is a necessity.

To rid the world of evil, you don’t work with adults who have already developed their values and principles, but with children who are developing theirs. The world would be a much better place if every single child was raised in an environment that promotes justice and goodness.

3 responses to “Censorship for the children

  1. Censorship is something that is carefully controlled, especially in a country such as America where liberty is treasured and freedom has been the foundation ever since the beginning of our own “Republic.”

    So, when Socrates suggested censoring stories such as the old Greek myths of heroes, I was conflicted. I’ve been of Greek myths when I was a kid, and though not all the details of rape and murder and sex was given to me, the overall stories were delightful. So my question is how much is Socrates willing to censor? Is he going to censor only certain parts? Or will he change the stories a little bit to accommodate the innocence and impressionability of the youth during his time?

    I agree with you, it’s important for kids not to be shown horrible images of sex and murder. However, if you think about it today, although there are toddler shows like “Dora” and “the Backyardians,” as kids grow up, there are also shows like “Spongebob” that the ripe with adult references. In ancient times, would the ancient-equivalent stories, styled similarly to that of “Spongebob” that can amuse all ages, be censored as well?

    Shouldn’t kids also be more trusted? Even if kids are shown images of violence, do they really become more violent? If a kids sees “Empire Strikes Back,” would they really go cutting people’s hands? It’s interesting because often with movies, movies with violence is permitted more than movies with nudity and sex. Shouldn’t be the responsibility of caretakers/parents to limit this, rather than the leaders of the Republic censoring it all together?

  2. Hi Moses,

    I think you’re right about how censoring certain materials from children is a good thing. It can protect them from bad influences and dangerous ideas. I remember watching cartoons with a lot of violence in it, which was played down as comedy, but I thought that meant it was funny to punch my friends in real life. Although I thought it was funny, my friends didn’t. They got hurt. I’m not saying that we should be censoring cartoons, but I agree with the basic idea behind censorship. At a vulnerable age, it’s important to make sure children establish good morals and virtues.

    That being said, I have seen the opposite end of the spectrum too. I used to live in China where censorship is HUGE, and I have friends that have been really sheltered by their families. Past a certain point, censorship can create delusions and ignorance. I think it’s important to let all people, including children, get to know what the reality is.

  3. Building off of the comment made by Jacob, I also agree with the act of censorship being strange, but I feel that it is because we are looking at this from a 21st-century perspective.
    We are living in a world hundreds of years ahead of the time of Socrates. We have seen the negatives of oppression, restriction, and censorship of works in history, and that is why we have such a strong mentality of going against anything that restricts knowledge.
    Socrates, and the Greeks that lived in the past lack that insight that we take for granted. They don’t have the way to know the effects of censorship, unless they actually go through with it and try. I’m sure that Socrates has the best in mind by limiting what is taught, so that only “virtues” are brought up in the soul, but as T.S. Eliot once said, “Most of the Evil in this world is done by people with good intentions”.

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