Censorship, the act of supressing public communication considered harmful towards others or the state, has long been used as a means of ensuring that the masses remain loyal to the ruling elites by filtering out any messages or vehicles of speech which may provide a platform for their opposition. Although censorship can be used to protect groups of people, such as through the censoring of expletives throughout the media during pre-watershed hours, the majority of such censorship over the course of history has been seen to drift towards the former usage in controlling the messages which may pose harm towards the state, as seen through the burning of books in Nazi Germany, the banning of theatres during Puritan rule, and the recent ban on Twitter and YouTube in Turkey.
During the period of 1653-1658, Oliver Cromwell, a highly religious ‘Puritan’, became the effective ruler of England following his orchestration of the execution of Charles I in 1649. Throughout his rule censorship became a prominent part of society due to his beliefs that one should have a pure soul, and his regime saw the outlawing of a wide variety of life’s pleasures including most sports, swearing, theatre and even the festivities of Christmas. In this instance censorship is seen to be acted upon to both reinforce Cromwell’s religious beliefs and to protect the state from any messages of opposition which could be spread through such platforms as the theatre.
Meanwhile, the actions of the Nazi regime on May 10, 1933 – when they burned upwards of 20,000 ‘Un-German’ books such as Jewish and American novels shows a form of censorship where the state acted to protect their ideologies by eradicating opposing ones: an important factor that, alongside strategies like propaganda, was significant to the success of the Third Reich
More recently, the last few months have seen the move by Turkey to block the social media websites YouTube and Twitter amid fears that they pose a national security risk to the country after a confidential high-level security meeting was allegedly recorded and leaked onto YouTube. This illustrates how censorship is still as prominent as ever in aiding the state in moderating threats towards them and their people. However it is unclear whether this incident is a mask for the banning of such social media sites to generally block such potential platforms of opposition to the state, thus possibly echoing the regimes of Cromwell and the Nazis.