Media Ethics And Policy – Censorship Report Samples
The decision by Lowe’s Home Improvement, a retail company to remove its advertisements from the TV show, “All-American Muslim” has sparked debate about the role of censorship in media. As the dissemination of news increases, the call for censorship also grows as content can always hurt one group or another. Content in different media such as television, print media, movies, internet and radio come under censorship. Content is censored so as to not hurt the sentiments of people, incite racist or religious riots or threaten national security, individual security, privacy laws etc. In the case of Lowe’s, the company acted as the censor and decided to stop running its advertisements and quit being a sponsor for the TV show.
As said in the lecture, censorship can be defined as “the removal, suppression, or restricted circulation of literary, artistic, or educational materials – of images, ideas, and information – on the grounds that these are morally or otherwise objectionable in light of standards applied by the censor.” Lowe’s Home Improvement decided to take away the advertisements by themselves because of opposition from an evangelical Christian group and complaints from a conservative group that said that the advertisements sponsored a “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values (Weber, 2015).” Hence in this case, although it was self censorship it was also a censorship that was a result of opposition by certain groups. There was also the implied threat of diminished business as the advertisement deal seemed to hurt the sentiments of the religious majority.
Although there are different variants of censorship such as classic censorship, prior restraint, self censorship and systemic censorship, the issue of Lowe’s is interesting as the censorship in this case is self-censorship. It was not the government or the censor board that censored or asked the company to remove the advertisements but was the company itself which decided to stop running its advertisements for the program. In the case of Lowe the censorship can be loosely connected to removal of morally objectionable ideas and information. The self censorship in this case was unwarranted because the advertisements themselves were not objectionable. The objectionable part was that a major chain could endorse a TV show about mules. Self censorship is when the creators of the material decide to either suppress or cut out content. Another way to look at this censorship is systemic censorship. By stopping it advertisements Lowe’s hoped that people would forget that it happened in the first place and move on to other things. The rationale was that once an apology was issued and the advertisement stopped people would not find any more reason to complain about the retail giant.
The potential motivations for the censorship are primarily the religious and conservative groups who did not want a giant retailer to endorse a program about a religious minority and the company itself. The company was worried about failing business or negative publicity and hence it took down the advertisements. The motivation for the company in this case was purely business and not religious or ethical. The main parties involved in this issue are the evangelical and conservative groups and the company and their legitimacy for calling a censorship are questionable and is a source of disagreement. The TV program was a show that chronicled the everyday life of Muslim families and in no way was a propaganda tool or detrimental to religious peace. The groups that were opposed to and called for the withdrawal of the advertisements hence had not legitimate reason for asking Lowe’s to take away the ads. If anything it was these groups that created an issue out of nothing. Lowe’s decision is also not right as it gave in to pressure without realizing that this move could affect the sensibilities of the Muslims and other people. This was the reason why a state senator from Southern California called for a boycott of Lowe’s and also stated that he was considering carrying out legislative action against the company.
The conflict over Lowe’s decision to place their advertisements during the show is a reflection of the larger religious conflicts in society. With terrorism rearing its ugly head everywhere, Islam has more or less become synonymous with terrorism and even an inoffensive, non religious television how about Muslims is taken in a bad way. Lowe’s decision to run advertisement was seen by the conservative groups as validation for the Muslims. Differences and complaints that were festering against the minorities came out indirectly in this media conflict. Instead of venting their ire over the Muslims, the groups decided to make Lowe’s the scapegoat portraying the company as a traitor.
Thus the issue of censorship in the case of Lowe’s was mainly self censorship and was decided by the company itself albeit with a little nudge from the protestors. This also raises questions about the role of censorship, the vulnerability of freedom of expression and the influence of certain groups. Although it is the government and the legislative bodies that mostly act as censors, in this case it was a censorship that was decided by the company.
Weber, Christopher. (2015, Dec 11). Lowe’s pulls ads from TV show about U.S. Muslims. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2011/12/11/lowes_pulls_ads_from_tv_show_about_us_muslims.html
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