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Yusif Conn
Vicki Stalbird
ENG.1201.N01
February 9 2015
Governments Right to Censor: Visual Analysis
The ability for the United States of America to censor types of speech is a topic that many
express their voices on. While there are many opinions, statistics, and other written documents
on the subject, others prefer to present their ideas in a visual manner. Infographics, cartoons, and
real photographs are made to support different sides of the subject. These images can speaker
louder than words, and can be easier to understand, as they are pictures we can see, instead of
words we must process. In the image chosen for this analysis, there is a call to America to live up
to its constitution, which promises freedom of expression to all, in all forms.
The image has many aspects to it, each with a purpose behind it. To start, there is a
turquoise background, with small black specks scattered around it. This makes the background
look dirty, or like an old piece of paper, with ink splattered around it. The background gives
contrast to the rest of the image, which uses darker colors. The splattered ink on the background
could suggest the use of old methods of writing, such as typewriting or even pen writing, which
were messier. The ink makes the whole background look like an old document, as many old
papers look dirty and worn.
In the center of the image is the silhouette of a persons head. The use of a head draws
attention to the viewer as if this is what is happening to people. The image of the head also is
important later on, with a different aspect of the image.

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The inside of the silhouette of the head is filled with the famous words of the
constitution. The words roughly read Congress [sh]all make no law [res]pecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or [ab]ridging the freedom [o]f
speech, or of the with breaks in between words to fit inside the head. These words can be
recognized as the cherished first amendment of the United States Constitution, which has made
America famous for its freedom of speech. The background of the words is a light brown, with
splatters of ink. The ink suggests

that this is an old document, as it is, and has gone through

much wear and tear. The background also suggest that this is an old document, as new paper is
usually fresh white, while old paper usually has a light brown coloring to it. Some parts of the
words in the document are not completely black, as if they are faded. This could mean that these
words are struggling to live through the times, and may have not been fully preserved.
Near the end of the first amendment is two rows of black marks, that looks like part of
the amendment is being marked out, or censored out. There are small breaks in between the ink,
as if the marker crossing out these words was picked up and put down again, to restrict more of
the promised freedom in the first amendment.
Also, in addition to the marking being near the end of the words of the constitution, it
also happens that these marks are around where the mouth would be of the silhouette. This
implies that the black, bold markings that are covering the constitution, also could be black tape
over a persons mouth. This shows that a person cannot speak as they please, and their mouth is
taped so they cannot speak at all. This makes an oppressive image for the viewer, to show that
our promised freedom is being restricted.
The whole image, including the background, the silhouette of a head, the words of the
first amendment, and the black markings, all send a powerful message. The message is that all

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citizens of the United States of America were made a promise a very long time ago. This promise
was a promise of free speech. Now, there are new markings trying to block out our promise of
freedom, and trying to cover our mouths to censor our words. This picture shows a powerful
image of our past, what we are entitled to, and what is happening to us to prevent our freedom.

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Work Cited
Stauffer, Brian. Today, Hurtful Speech Is More Likely to Be Political Speech than Obscene
Speech. Digital image. The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 31 Oct. 2014.
Web. 2 Feb. 2015.