In our time, we have seen a fundmental change to one of the main building blocks of the English language: their.
Their used to be purely plural. Now it also include gender-neutral singular. See Facebook: So-and-so has updated their status.
I think that if the English language can accommodate such a shift, then it can accommodate a shift in the word censorship.
My personal dictionary is Merriam-Webster (editorial types have “their” dictionaries):
Definition of CENSOR
: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable <censor the news>; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable <censor out indecent passages>
Examples of CENSOR
- The station censored her speech before broadcasting it.
- His report was heavily censored.
Does this say anything about the government? About official law being required in order for it to “count”? No. The shift in language has already happened. Censorship, as a concept, is no longer limited to the law of the land but includes any kind of suppression of objectionable material. The word has changed–because the world has changed. We live in a world where the policy that shapes our lives doesn’t necessarily come from government but from our workplaces and from the businesses we deal with. The result isn’t the same–but it’s similar, and it’s still serious.
For anonymous people to pressure credit card companies to pressure PayPal to pressure Smashwords to remove objectionable material from their website is censorship, and it’s the opposite of learning how to play well with others: it’s using money to get your way. No matter how noble you think you are, no matter how much you think you’re saving the children or making the world a better place, you’re being a bully and are thereby making the world a shittier place. Bullies suck. This all comes down to people, and you know who you are, even if you’re too cowardly to be public about it.
So. Let’s stop assuming that it’s a business’s right to run itself however the hell it wants in this area, too. We stepped in and said that sexual harassment is no longer okay. Monopolies are no longer okay. We do actually get to have a say in the way businesses run themselves (or is limiting freedom more okay when it’s only the board of directors who get a vote rather than the public?). Censoring people just because it’s a best business practice? Should no longer be okay.