Censorship, Parliament, and Monarchy


It is not uncommon to observe a fellow citizen who, in an extraordinarily self-righteous manner, points out how people of other countries suffer under censorship. It is regrettable that this affection for the freedoms of the inhabitants of these other countries rarely extends to the freedoms of our own.

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show recently exclaimed that ‘England is awesome’ in one his broadcasts. This particular segment of his show is, however, illegal in Britain. The problem? He used footage of Cameron and some quite unfriendly MPs in the chamber to support his admiration for the British Parliament, and it is apparently illegal to use parliamentary footage in a satirical/comedic context in Britain. This is ridiculous to say the least, but this form of censorship is unfortunately not limited to our politicians.

The monarchy is another institution that is overly protected against witty minds. One recent example of this occurred a few months ago when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation intended to air a satirical Royal Wedding Commentary. Clarence House, the official residence and office of Prince Charles, reportedly ruined these plans, and certain coverage restrictions were suddenly put in place. It was now the case that footage from Westminster Abbey could not be used ‘in any drama, comedy, satirical or similar entertainment programme or content’.

If you are the current or future head of church and state, you should expect to be the target of satire and comedy. And so should politicians. Restrictions of the kind considered above only make the satirical coverage more sharply ridiculing. For example, in their coverage of the royal wedding, Jon Stewart and his team decided to use an animation of the ceremony instead. The hilarious (but not 100% family-friendly) result can be found here.

When the politicians and the monarchy are too touchy, we ought to stand up against censorship. Luckily, the rules do not seem to apply to other countries, so I will browse the Internet and enjoy an uncensored version instead. Or, alternatively, I could catch a plane to one of ‘Chad, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen’ where, Jon Stewart claimed, they do not censor a satirical news show.