Censorship in America, a commentary by Dr. Larry Burriss

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“Somehow the idea seems to have grown up lately that we have to protect people, especially our youth, from values and ideas that may not be popular, or even correct.

The thought seems to be if we ignore values and ideas not our own, or even worse, if we actually hide ideas and values, they will somehow go away and won’t cause any trouble.

Likewise, there seems to be a feeling if we don’t ask questions, if we just accept the status quo, or the popular idea, our lives will somehow be better.

 

Actually, there are only a couple of things that can happen with ideas, good or bad. If it’s a wrong or bad value or idea, it will eventually be rejected. But if the idea or belief has some truth in it, people will select the good from the bad, and keep the good.

This idea of individuals, not institutions, sifting through the myriad of messages we come across each day ore-supposes a thinking, rational populace. It says each of us has the capacity to determine what is proper. It says people, not institutions, should be the arbiters of what ideas should flourish, and which should be ignored.

But, for this to happen, people must be allowed to ask questions, to probe for meaning, to seek clarification.

 

We need people who will be allowed to ask “why” or “why not. ”We need people who can ask, “Is what I’m hearing the whole truth. ”We need to ask, “Whose interests are being served here.”

Our country was founded by people who believed in the worth of the individual, who believed in the ability to reason, and who believed in the open conflict of ideas.

In fact, we need to be challenged in our beliefs and values. We need to encourage debate. We need to assure that every voice in the community has the opportunity to be heard.

What we don’t need is censorship, at any level of society. I’m Larry Burriss.”

 

About Dr. Burriss

Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss’ publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.