Censorship is the suppression of communication usually deemed harmful by the ruling government. Every country has, at one time or another, been guilty of grievous acts of censorship. But as Noam Chomsky once said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.“
10. The Lord Chamberlain’s Office
Photo credit: Leslie Ward
For nearly 200 years, all the way up until 1968, the Lord Chamberlain’s Office was the undisputed ruler of the British stage. It was originally created in the late 15th century, and the man who held the post of Lord Chamberlain was just in charge of entertainment at Court. But by the middle of the 17th century, the Office began to interfere in and censor public theaters, often for political or religious reasons.
Some of the most celebrated plays of the 19th and 20th centuries were banned from Britain, for reasons ranging from bad language (even as mild a word as “piss”) to the depiction of Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale in a lesbian relationship (Edward Bond’s Early Morning). Most plays were sent back with a list of required changes and some playwrights refused to obey, showcasing their work in private clubs, which the Office usually left alone.
9. The Australian Classification Board
An out-of-touch, outdated mode of censorship, the Australian Classification Board is responsible for investigating and classifying video games, movies, and TV shows. Established as the result of a political bill in 1995, the ACB has the power to ban any item which it feels does not represent the established morality of Australia, especially in regards to violence or sexuality. However, items are usually given a chance to make changes based on the Board’s decision to receive classification.
Video games seem hardest hit with this strictness, with examples like Saints Row IV and State of Decay refused classification. (The developers later edited out parts of the games to meet the Board’s requirements.) Though the games include over-the-top violence, movies with extreme amounts of violence are often allowed right on through.
8. The Motion Pictures Producers And Distributors Of America
In 1922, after public outcry over the perceived vulgarity in cinema, as well as real-life scandals involving film stars, studios in the United States banded together and asked former Postmaster General William Hays to head a board to come up with a set of rules to govern films. They did this more out of a desire to keep the government out of their business, rather than a moral reason.
In 1930, they developed the Motion Picture Production Code, a detailed list of the things acceptable for film. Items such as extreme profanity, nudity, or white slavery were normally banned by the Code.
By the 1960s, the MPPDA was extremely outdated, and it was gradually turned into the Motion Picture Associations of America. The old rules were relaxed quite a bit, and the ratings system was changed to reflect the societal changes throughout the US