I know a lot of people are into piracy – and not the fun, swashbucklin’, cutlass-wieldin’ kind of piracy either. I’m talking illegal downloads. Obviously I’m not here to school you about the consequences of piracy (I’ve discussed the topic before here); I’m not here to talk solely about piracy either. I’m here to talk about why I believe censorship in all its forms is pointless. Why?
I knew there was a steamy scene in Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1 between Edward Cullen and Bella (his Stockholm Syndrome afflicted pet and possibly the worst role model for teenager girls) even though it had been completely cut out of the movie in cinemas here (to award it a lower rating and garner more audiences no doubt). And that isn’t because it was so badly edited that a sex scene was obvious…
It’s cause people who were following the Twilight hype on the internet knew that it existed long before the movie came out. So all the little teenagers who you’re trying to save from rated R debauchery will most likely go home that night and find it from the internet to fill in the blank. Let’s take that scenario and put it in a much more urgent, much more destructive jigsaw such as the rebellious, artistic movement of China for example. The government is happy keeping people in the dark when it comes to their activities but the same ignorance is not applicable to the international community.
You have all these outraged internet activists using social networking to spread the word and soon, there’s outrage spreading in the country. The internet is to blame.
Now, the problem of the internet is pretty easy to resolve: you censor it. Okay, awesome. That solves that, right?
No. Not really. Now you’ve just got a bunch of people really, really angry at you for shutting down today’s most important method of information, communication and entertainment.
Best possible scenario for the government, worst possible scenario for the people is both the same: North Korea.
Worst possible scenario for the government and the people (though the latter can be debated): Revolution.
A revolution full of memes and angry business people. But that’s not happened so far, and for good reason I suppose. So instead, you shut down individual websites.
That’s a better idea, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less superfluous because hey, guess what? Proxies
exist and they do the magnificent job of letting you access websites other people would less than appreciate you doing.
But even if you shut down one proxy, there will always be more and they’ll launch authorities into a frenzy not unlike the whack-a-mole games at the arcade. When people get something they’ve gotten used to taken away from them, they will get creative and just as necessity is the mother of invention – let’s just say there’s no shortage of ways to get what you want.
You can’t ban books because PDFs and e-books exist and are revolutionizing the publishing industry. You can’t try to hide the greater facts of life from your children, because other children exist, and they will find out before they’re “meant” to whether you like it or not, because children are getting smarter. You can’t ban music because underground movements always have and always will exist and they will nullify all your attempts to stop whatever it is you want to stop from getting out.
That’s why revolutions are so incredible and inevitable in many cases because, often, they’re sprung from the ingenuity of people when they’re backed up into a corner.
Say what you want about the human race, but we’re one inventive species. We will always wheedle out an alternative when our primary way of life is being threatened. That’s evolution for you.
(PS: remind me to talk about the importance of language and 1984 at some point. I’ll really get rearing, then!)