Political censorship  

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Les Poires, as sold separately to cover the expenses of a trial of Le Charivari
Les Poires, as sold separately to cover the expenses of a trial of Le Charivari

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Political censorship exists when a government attempts to conceal, distort, or falsify information that its citizens receive by suppressing or crowding out political news that the public might receive through news outlets. In the absence of unflattering but objective information, people will be unable to dissent with the government or political party in charge. It is also the suppression of views that are contrary to those of the government in power. The government often has the power of the army and the secret police, to enforce the compliance of journalists with the will of the government to extol the story that the government wants people to believe, at times even with bribery, ruin of careers, imprisonment, and even assassination.

The word censorship comes from the Latin word censor, the job of two Romans whose duty was to supervise public behaviour and morals, hence 'censoring' the way people acted.

Political censorship in practice

Many regimes have long used many forms of censorship. The Ancien régime implemented censorship. The bourgeoisie has used it as well many times while in power throughout the XIX and the XX centuries.

In 1851, Napoleon III declared himself emperor. The bourgeoisie immediately saw in him a way to protect their privileges, that were put in danger by the French Revolution of 1848, which threatened to give the power to the people. This was a time when all sorts of cultural production was censored, from newspapers to theater.

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

Iraq under Saddam Hussein had much the same techniques of press censorship as did Romania under Nicolae Ceauşescu but with greater potential violence.

Cuban media is operated under the supervision of the Communist Party's Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies".

Censorship also takes place in capitalist nations. In 1973, a military coup took power in Uruguay, and the State practiced censorship. For example, writer Eduardo Galeano was imprisoned and later was forced to flee. His book Open Veins of Latin America was banned by the right-wing military government, not only in Uruguay, but also in Chile and Argentina.

Many countries' campaign finance laws restrict speech on candidates and political issues. In Citizens United v. FEC, the United States Supreme Court found that many such restrictions are an unconstitutional form of censorship.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Political censorship" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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