Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jeremy Harris Lipschultz
Censorship as defined in the United States refers to the government's prior restriction, limitation, or filtering of information or ideas in speech and various forms of mass media, such as newspapers and broadcasting and other electronic media, most recently including the Internet. Historically, censorship has been a valuable tool for repressive forms of totalitarian government that do not value or allow freedom of speech, expression, or religion, let alone free news media. Under such conditions, draconian censorship often follows a desire to control the public. For example, a government official or agency may have responsibility for reviewing and altering media content prior to publication. In the common law English tradition of making law through judicial decisions, as well as the United States constitutional First Amendment framework, freedom of expression typically begins with the ideal that there shall be no prior restraint on speech or press, but transgressions—such as defamation of ...