Canada Censorship News

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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Freedom of Government Censorship

Over at filmclassification.ca I periodically note the ratings assigned to films by the different boards in Canada. For some perspective I also include the ratings assigned in a few other countries. In most of the world, ratings are assigned by government agencies, but in the freedom loving United States ratings come from an industry association. Their mantra, also often applied to possibility of Internet censorship, is that industry must censor itself to prevent government censorship. Implicit in this approach is that industry censorship is better, i.e. more liberal, than government censorship.

A look at the ratings suggests this is not necessarily true. Here's my completely non-scientific sample for 2012:


Title
BC
AB
MB
ON
PQ
NS, PE, NB
MPAA
(U.S.A)
BBFC
(Great Britain)
The Campaign
14A
14A
14A
14A
13+
14A
R
15
The Dark Knight
PG
14A
PG
PG
G

PG-13
12A
Hugo
G
PG
PG
PG
G

PG
U
Hunger Games
PG
14A
14A
14A
G

PG-13
12A
Les Miserables
PG
PG
PG
PG
G
PG
PG-13
12A
Looper
14A
14A
14A
14A
13+
14A
R
15
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
PG
14A
14A
PG
13+

PG-13
12A
Skyfall
PG
14A
14A
PG
13+
14A
PG-13
12A
Snow White and the Huntsman
PG
PG
PG
PG
G
PG
PG-13
12A
Ted
14A
18A
18A
14A
13+
14A
R
15
Tintin
PG
PG
PG
PG
G

PG
PG


In most cases, the MPAA ratings are the same or higher than the ratings from government agencies. There are a few exceptions. For example, Skyfall and Mission Impossible have 13+ ratings in Quebec, which means children under 13 cannot view them, while in the United States the PG-13 rating is advisory only. Similarly, 14A requires adult accompaniment, while PG-13 suggests it.

The notion that industry censorship is more liberal than government censorship should not be accepted without question. In a democracy, government censors are obligated to answer to the people. Industry censors face no such obligation. Keep that in mind next time you hear a suggestion that Internet companies need to censor the net lest government step in. Government censorship might be better.

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