I was very surprised to find a news piece on censorship of the Tom & Jerry franchise. Protesters in the Great Britain managed to convince the broadcasters of the Tom & Jerry series to censor all scenes in which one of the characters can be found smoking. All scenes in which Tom or another cat are smoking cigarettes or cigars have been meticulously cut out. The reasons for this are predictable but ultimately self-defeating.

Censorship is wrong. In an otherwise free society the effects of censorship are almost always negative. Censorship usually creates a sense of danger around the censored object, this feeling is extremely attractive. We all want what we can’t have, or what other people tell us is wrong of us to have. People who are most susceptible to this are the young ones – children, children reaching puberty, and teenagers. Censoring smoking from common culture and from growing-up activities will create a stronger drive for young people to smoke. Is this what the protesters wanted?

Hiding something does not make it disappear. But it creates questions as to why was it necessary to hide it in the first place. These questions lead to experimentation and individual search for truth. In the case of cigarettes it also leads to addiction. I am a cigarette addict – this is the third time in my life that I have stopped smoking, and somehow I doubt it is the last. I started because cigarettes were out-of-bounds, I wasn’t allowed to smoke them by my parents, by my school, and by the government (age) – so I did. I was lucky enough that I started experimenting with other things at a later age when I actually possessed a functioning self-sufficient brain, but I know of people who have been less fortunate.
What I propose here is for people to realise that their actions will not always have the desired effect. There are certain maxims that should be globally understood and followed: prime amongst them the rule that openness beats censorship. Informed decisions are productive, decisions made out of spite, fear, or anger lead to more of the same. If people are informed of both sides of the story – the good, the bad, and the ugly, then they will be able to think for themselves. If instead they are ‘protected’ by the authorities (of any shape or form) by witholding information from them, they will have a lesser chance of making the right decisions.

In this era of subconscious conflict and strife, it is safer not to settle with any concrete beliefs, not to believe everything at face value and constantly look behind the obvious.

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