Censorship may involve restrictions on expression, or the public availability of books, newspapers and journals, films, plays, news, artwork, photography, broadcasts, and non-acceptance of new scientific thought. Censorship may lead to lack of information and subsequent development of apathy, ignorance, conformism and general stagnation. It may threaten democracy and encourage subversive activities. It may equally foster idealism through indoctrination and strengthen governmental control.
Censorship is universal, but particularly marked in political dictatorships or totalitarian regimes.
Increasing censorship may be an indicator of national and international tension, or it may be a reaction against decadence. Censorship may be, in a distorted way, an expression of a search for values in fragmented societies. In a psychological sense censorship is a function exercised by the ego over drives and impulses which have an instinctual quality, and which the ego may seek to repress. Thus censorship in society also results in a bottling-up of forces; a repression that can lead to violent social outbursts, or societal dysfunctioning.
In contemporary sexist and racist societies, where most people are members of subordinate or marginalized groups, government has not only a right but a duty to suppress all expression that exacerbates any historically oppressed group's subordinate status. Pornography, for example, and all other forms of expression that impose subordination, effectively silences groups. Such expression may therefore be understood as a form of censorship in its own right. Censorship of it is therefore really an expansion of freedom. When groups have the right not to have their sensibilities hurt, censorship is progressive when it suppresses offensive forms of expression. Free speech must wait until all groups achieve equal status.