Censorship in Art
Censorship has existed in the United States since colonial times. In the early history of American culture censorship’s emphasis was on political statements and actions, banning literature, music and even people from being heard in this country. This leading too more closed-minded views about different cultures and society, which we are still fighting to over come in the present day. Today a better-informed America has switched their views to a more sexual content when deciding what should be publicly released. While all of this seems to violate our first amendment right, group censorship is totally legal. Hidden amongst recent censorship are many Cuban exile groups who have caused a handful of Cuban performances to be canceled or moved from South Florida, reverting us back to a society lacking the cultural activates it needs to grow.
According to the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, “censorship is an official prohibition or restriction of any type of expression believed threaten political, social, or moral order.” This can be imposed by governmental authority, religious group, or by a powerful private association. Only the first out of the three makes the censorship a violation of our civil rights. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says:
“Congress shall make no law representing an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This law applies only to the “Government,” its laws or it’s agencies and not to religious or community-established groups who conduct the suppressions.
According to modern laws, art is protected by the constitution. But music and musical performances are not censored on the basis of art; they are usually censored for obscenity so “the children” won’t be traumatized! Which in some degree is understandable when trying to get our country to be more “Family orientated.” However, recent violent protests in South Florida and threats of more protests have canceled Irakere, Cubanismo (two major acts from Cuban culture) and moved the venue where the Latin Grammys were to be held from Miami to Los Angeles (Douthat, 15A). These protests were not for inappropriate lyrics or content, but for political views only shared by the groups demonstrating against them. Groups such as, Vigilia Mambisa, the Cuban Patriotic Coalition of Palm Beach, and 18 exile groups (one stemming out of Boca Raton), feel that when these Cuban descendents perform here in the US that the proceeds from their concerts will go back into the Cuban Government, directly helping Fidel Castro (Smith, 4E). Jorge Avellana, a West Palm Beach exile who organized the demonstration against Irakere stated that, “The majority of the money they earn goes to subsidize the dictatorship.”
These shows were not canceled because of any proof that the performers did anything wrong, but for “the safety” of the theater’s employees and patrons (Douthat, 1A). But why should the views of select groups hinder our society from valuable ethnic programs that only help connect the “culture gap” in South Florida. When a mother won’t let her children buy obscene music we admire her involvement. When albums receive a warning sticker, we begin to question our rights. When stores ban albums and videos for inappropriate content we consider it a step backwards. Where do we draw the line when canceling entire performances not for content but for political beliefs of less then and eighth of South Florida’s population? I personally feel like my rights and the rights of the performers were stripped away, taking us back to a time in history where the least amount of diversity helped keep us all “nice and cozy” in a uniform world.
In conclusion, censorship in art can be helpful when controlling the morals of our country. It helps to keep our children free from obscene language and content, for the time being. But not all censorship is based on “moral” ideals some are based on Neanderthal reasoning. The actions that more vocal groups take when their ideals clash with the beliefs of our fellow Americans can seriously hinder our countries personal, cultural and human growth. Everyone has the right to his or her opinion, but that shouldn’t stop a more knowledgeable and culturally enriched society from being born.