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Does censorship make people soft?
in Politics

I’ve always wondered what a day at the colosseum with the family was like in Ancient Rome. Did all those people subject to that violence go on to become psycho murderers? Don’t stormy seas make the best sailors? How does censorship improve us if it conceals useful information? Would it not be better to moderately desensitize individuals to horrible things rather than hide them completely? Isn’t sex like 50% of our purpose in life? Don’t we live on a giant ball floating through space at a ridiculously high speed that could be destroyed at any moment from countless horrible unknown things and can’t we be brutally attacked on any given day by a total psycho? So why pretend we live in a make believe utopia where things like sex and violence are kept secretive? 

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  • I believe it is more complicated than this. You see, censorship never exists on its own, it always comes in a package and inevitably, unless its development is stopped in time, results in a dictatorship. And dictatorships make people anything but soft.
    You can see it as the following consequence of events:
    1. People's inability to deal with inconvenient speech leads to enactment of censorship policies.
    2. Censorship policies evolve to be used by the government in order to control the population.
    3. The governmental control over the population evolves into a dictatorship.
    4. The dictatorship starts punishing all people for standing up against it, and simultaneously robbing people of their possessions.
    5. In the end, the society becomes extremely violent and poor, which hardens people.
    This is why, in general, the more authoritarian a nation is, the more rough and desensitised people there are. The worst of the worst, places such as North Korea, have people so desensitised to violence, that they vocally support monstrous entities such as concentration camps or torture and execution of dissidents.

    To your last point, I thought about it a lot, and my views somewhat changed on this recently. Let us separate the questions on sex and violence.

    Violence being kept secretive is likely to make people more supportive and compassionate, as the threshold for them feeling sympathy for other people is very low. So you could say that it makes people softer.
    On the other hand, there is the principle of the forbidden fruit: what is kept secretive becomes attractive. Remember the movie Fight Club? In a society where violence is hidden, people become curious about it and organise secretive communities which exist in their own echo chamber and result in formation of very twisted individuals.
    As such, this issue is dual. I definitely do not advocate in any way for censoring the images of violence, but I do think that it may be in the society's best interest to discourage its explicit demonstration in a peaceful and voluntary matter.

    As for sex, I used to think that there were no downsides to normalising it. I thought it would be best if people were not so sensitive to sex. If people could have sex in public legally without anyone batting an eye. After all, sex is our natural function, so why be ashamed and protective of it?
    I still believe that it is in society's best interest to legalise all forms of sex, including sex in public.

    However, there is an interesting consideration I realised recently. It comes back to the already mentioned idea of a forbidden fruit. It is very likely that normalising public displays of sex would desensitise people to sex, which, in turn, will make sex less special, less romantic. All the social depth leading to and involved in sex between two lowers will be washed out by how common sex between random people will become.
    What happens in a very first successful relationship between two young lovers? They are absolutely crazy about everything. The first time they hold each other's hands... The first time they hug each other... The first time they kiss each other... The first time they have sex... All of this is extremely beautiful, special, romantic. This kind of thing is one of the main reasons to live this life.
    If we remove this aspect from sex and sexuality, then we will also remove (at large) the romantic, special component in relationships. Something positive may be gained from it, but also something very special will be lost.

    There is a world of difference between a long process of courting leading to eventual sex, and a simple, "Hey, I don't know your name, but let's go to my apartment and have some fun". I would not want to live in the society where the latter is the dominant mode of intimate interaction between humans, and the book Brave New World illustrates just how dull it would be.
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