28 July 2006

Censorship

To me, one of the great things about the Internet is that it is like an unchained beast that runs free. Okay, it may initially have been developed by the US military for improving armed defence and attack procedures but it has become something that was never anticipated - a platform for ordinary people, an open window on the world. Science fiction never predicted such an amazing communication system.

Blogging is just an avenue of this freedom but what are the rules for blogging? There doesn't seem to be a governing body enforcing a manual of regulations and we don't seem to be blighted by those shadowy moderators who used to oversee certain chatrooms, looking in from their moral stepladders, castigating contributors, asserting their own sometimes hypersensitive brands of justice.

Often, when I make comments on other bloggers' posts, I like to be a little mischievous - a little risque - for that is in the nature of humour and God knows the world needs more laughter right now. But sometimes my comments will be heartfelt and serious. Recently one particular blogger, who shall remain nameless, posted a map of Saharan Africa showing how that part of the world is suffering and will suffer further in the future - largely because of the West's callous disregard for human life there. I left a comment that began , "Don't Cry for Me Argentina, cry for Africa, cry for the victims of the AIDS epidemic, cry for the wild animals we are waving farewell to..."etc.. If I say so myself, it was rather poetic.

censorship_5

Another visitor to this post then accused me of being "self-righteous" and "mawkish". Now if you ever met me you'd know that those descriptions are way off-beam. I'm the least self-righteous and mawkish person you could ever wish to meet. And so I thought - too often in life have I encountered voyeurs who don't act, don't make stands, don't push ahead but stand on the touchline judging the game, judging the action. I retorted with some barbed humour - no threats, no foulness.
The upshot is that I have now effectively been barred from the aforementioned blog. I can't leave any more comments and my blog tag has been removed from the blogroll. No debate, no explanation, no right of appeal - just barred. Actually I am so annoyed about this heavy-handedness on the part of the blogger concerned that I have no intention of visiting his damned ego-massaging blog ever again. Besides do I really want to know which restaurants he's visited, which I-Pod tunes he's listening to, his pseudo-intellectual booklist? No I don't.
All of this has led me to form an organisation called the BCA - Blogging Control Authority which from now on will be actively policing blogs from around the world. I am now the unelected President of this Authority. In our first meeting we decided two things:
1) All bloggers have to become fully-fledged members of the BCA. The annual membership fee is £55 (US$102) which should be sent by cheque immediately to Mr. Y. Pudding Esq., BCA Treasury, Pudding Towers, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England S69 1FU
2) Censorship of other bona fide bloggers' comments is now strictly prohibited. Anyone found guilty of this heinous crime will be flogged by Alkelda the Dominatrix then sent to a holiday camp in southern Lebanon while their blogs are seized by the BCA Thought Police for export to needy and blogless bloggers in sub-Saharan Africa.

12 comments:

  1. Oof! I know all too well how remarks meant one way are interpreted another way, especially in print. Humor is a silvery snake with many heads and minds of their own. Sometimes we have a rein on on the snake (mixing metaphors, tee hee), sometimes we don't.

    My thought is that the right for you (i.e. anyone) to swing your fist ends a couple of inches before it would impact my nose. You had a right to write what you thought, the other person had a right to respond to that, and like it or not, the person who runs the blog had a "right" to take you off the blogroll. It's not nice (I've done it once before, when the friendship just needed to end quickly, no matter who was technically at fault, and I was the one whose comments were taken in a totally different vein than intended...but that's another story for another time. Email me if you really want to know it!) but it does bring up some valid questions about what the "rights" of bloggers actually are.

    Another thought: Does the spammer have the right to leave what I believe to be crud on my blog? Yeah, sure. I suppose. I have made it possible for people to comment anonymously, and word verifier is supposed to filter out spambots, not people. But I have the right to delete the spammers' comments without any explanation whatsoever. It's not so clear-cut when friends are involved. There are actual feelings involved, ranges of emotions, perceptions of truth, etc.

    I hope you don't think by all this that I am saying it's good and wonderful to censor. Written and oral expressions are different, and have as many differences as, um... two really different things that have a lot in common.

    Anyway, big hugs to you, and if you think I'm being mawkish, I'll have Brad the Gorilla sit on you. :)

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  2. I'd love to join - but you will have to agree to accept the £55 in pennies at weekly intervals. ;)

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  3. Is that anything like a trouser snake?

    I'd like to know who this guy is so I can ignore him too. One of the things I do best is loyalty to my buddies!

    I don't have to pay, I'm a religion unto myself and therefore I get everything free...

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  4. By George: The last I heard, the silvery snake and the trouser-snake were third cousins. They hang out quite a bit, or so I am told.

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  5. Ladies! Ladies! Cease this thinly disguised bawdy banter immediately or I shall report both of you to the BCA. Any question you may have about the shy Amazonian trouser snake may be found by searching Google, failing that should you ever visit England I have a pet one called Moby.

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  6. YP: You have a trouser snake called Moby??????

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  7. Hey! I'm on the cover of the August issue of GQ.

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  8. its a big debate I suppose, but I for one have only ever deleted my own comments to correct spelling mistakes because you can't edit them and I think a blog that only has comments that agree with it it, or has or allows no humour is a bit pointless really. It's strange how involved people get in their blogs and other people's blogs. It's not very nice to fall out with people, even if you've never met them and it relaly has no effect on your actual life in the real world at all.

    hope you have a good holiday YP. there is actually an ethnic group in turkey called the mawks and I would love to visit that area, being a big fan of mawkish cuisine. I think they will recognise you as one of their own brothers from the mawkish diaspora when a group of mawks went to make their fortunes by getting jobs with sheffield's education department. the fatted mawkish calf awaits you, prodigal son of the mawks.

    I'm going to have a kebab tonight so that I will be on holiday with you in spirit, untill I foind out what hotel room you are staying in and book the one next door so your holiday will be complete

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  9. Squirt7:31 pm

    Blogging: it's like a pub conversation. You may start it, anyone joins in, sometimes it gets heated and you may hear things that you feel are inappropriate. So you can walk away. When blogging you should have the right to walk away. It's your conversation, you started it and if you don't like what you hear you may walk away.
    The particular website you refer to seems to me to try and have something for everyone, notes if things are a bit risky, and enjoys a good polite following. Nothing wrong with that.
    As in your local, it would be good if the next visit you could all put previous conversations in the past.

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  10. YP, I have read your comments and am aware of the blog to which you refer. I know too that you claim not to have made threats, but indeed you threatened to punch the other commentor for his comments about you. Seems like a threat to me.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.