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Censorship of state secrets and prevention of attention

Political censorship

Strict censorship existed in the Eastern Bloc. Throughout the bloc, the various ministries of culture held a tight reign on their writers. Cultural products there reflected the propaganda needs of the state. Party-approved censors exercised strict control in the early years. In the Stalinist period, even the weather forecasts were changed if they had the temerity to sugest that the sun might not shine on May Day. Under Nicolae Ceauşescu in Romania, weather reports were doctored so that the temperatures were not seen to rise above or fall below the levels which dictated that work must stop.

Independent journalism did not exist in the Soviet Union until Mikhail Gorbachev became its leader; all reporting was directed by the Communist Party or related organizations. Pravda, the predominant newspaper in the Soviet Union, had a monopoly. Foreign newspapers were available only if they were published by Communist Parties sympathetic to the Soviet Union.

Possession and use of copying machines was tightly controlled in order to hinder production and distribution of samizdat, illegal self-published books and magazines. Possession of even a single samizdat manuscript such as a book by Andrei Sinyavsky was a serious crime which might involve a visit from the KGB. Another outlet for works which did not find favor with the authorities was publishing abroad.

The People's Republic of China, which continues Communist rule in politics, if not in the controlled economy, employs some 30,000 'Internet police' to monitor the internet and popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Cuban media is operated under the supervision of the Communist Party's Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies". Connecting to Internet is illegal. Computer ownership is banned.

Censorship of state secrets and prevention of attention

Wieczór Wrocławia" - Daily newspaper of Wrocław, People's Republic of Poland, March 20-21-21, 1981, with censor intervention on first and last pages --- under the headlines "Co zdarzyło się w Bydgoszczy?" (What happened in Bydgoszcz?) and "Pogotowie strajkowe w całym kraju" (Country-wide strike alert). The censor had removed a section regarding the strike alert; hence the workers in the printing house blanked out an official propaganda section. The right-hand page also includes a hand-written confirmation of that decision by the local "Solidarność" Trade Union.

In wartime, explicit censorship is carried out with the intent of preventing the release of information that might be useful to an enemy. Typically it involves keeping times or locations secret, or delaying the release of information (e.g., an operational objective) until it is of no possible use to enemy forces. The moral issues here are often seen as somewhat different, as release of tactical information usually presents a greater risk of casualties among one's own forces and could possibly lead to loss of the overall conflict. During World War I letters written by British soldiers would have to go through censorship. This consisted of officers going through letters with a black marker and crossing out anything which might compromise operational secrecy before the letter was sent. The World War II catchphrase "Loose lips sink ships" was used as a common justification to exercise official wartime censorship and encourage individual restraint when sharing potentially sensitive information.



An example of "sanitization" policies comes from the USSR under Joseph Stalin, where publicly used photographs were often altered to remove people whom Stalin had condemned to execution. Though past photographs may have been remembered or kept, this deliberate and systematic alteration to all of history in the public mind is seen as one of the central themes of Stalinism and totalitarianism.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 984


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