Sunday, May 20, 2007

Media, Sleaziness, and Censorship

Richard Mbuthia writes on his fear that the Kenyan media continues to publish what he considers sleazy. Read the rest here.

It leaves a question begging for an answer: is censorship an antediluvian, medieval idea that has no place in our present society? Censorship in the sense of rooting out all manner of ignominy? I tend to think censorship is tricky business. In this age of freedom of expression, it is mind-racking to decide what should be blue-penciled and what should not. In the pontificate of the late Pope John Paul II., the Council for Social Communications summed it up this way: "The presumption should always be in favour of freedom of expression, for when people follow their natural inclination to exchange ideas and declare their opinions, they are not merely making use of a right. They are performing a social duty."Freedom of expression is not an absolute norm. There are obvious instances - for example, libel and slander, messages that seek to foster hatred and conflict, obscenity and pornography, the morbid depiction of violence - where no right to communicate exists."