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Tony Grist

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Censorship? [May. 30th, 2007|12:41 pm]
Tony Grist
I don't suppose there's ever been a society which allowed complete freedom of speech.

Modern Britain is about as close as it gets. But there are still areas- race, terrorism, Islam, paedophilia- in which it's wise to tread carefully.

And then there are our libel laws- which make it problematical to draw attention to the criminal goings-on of the very rich.

Since 911 there's been a tightening up- as of the sphincter. The politicians are jumpy and would prefer us to shut up around them. For instance they've made it illegal for us to protest- without police permission- within a one mile radius of the Palace of Westminster. 

But that's not what concerns me today. I've just read (in zephyrcrow' s LJ) that LJ- under pressure from some noisy, self-righteous people- has been banning users whom it suspect sof nasty sexual habits.

If the rumours are true, it could be "fatal" to list things like "pedophilia" or "necrophilia" among your interests- even if you're doing it with irony, even if your interest is professional or academic.

I'm not happy about this. I don't particularly want to read about forbidden sexual pratices but I resent being told I can't. 

I know there are lines to be drawn, but lets draw them as far out as we possibly can. If I'm hurting someone, stop me. If I'm just talking about hurting someone,  let it pass.

But maybe the rumours aren't true. 

Free speech is precious. We need to be able to talk frankly about the things that trouble us.

Out there in the badlands is also where the prophets live.

[User Picture]From: elfwreck
2007-05-30 02:03 pm (UTC)
They've deleted at least one abuse survivor's journal, because she listed as "interests" the atrocities that had been done to her as a child.

They have deleted an RPG villan journal--that's a fictional "THIS IS THE BAD GUY IN OUR STORIES" journal. And several fanfiction journals.

Some idiot lawyer told them that stating an "interest" in the topic could be seen as promoting it, and so they're deleting journals that have those topics--but only after the specific journal has been reported. There's a fanatic Christian group going around reporting people based on their interest lists.

I've amended mine. I don't think it had anything questionable in it before, but at least this way they won't be tracking through me to any of my friends who have questionable interests.

More details at http://catrinella.livejournal.com/151812.html and http://cordelia-v.livejournal.com/188534.htm.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-05-30 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the links.

This is stupid.

And I'm also cross at them for doing it without advance warning. Not only is it censorship, it's censorship by stealth.
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[User Picture]From: springheel_jack
2007-05-30 03:11 pm (UTC)
> Modern Britain is about as close as it gets.

Except for your crazy libel laws.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-05-30 03:58 pm (UTC)
Well, yes. I hate our libel laws.
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From: amritarosa
2007-05-30 03:46 pm (UTC)
That is very troubling. And we all know how easily the list of "forbidden topics" can expand.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-05-30 04:08 pm (UTC)
Yes indeed.

And it seems that LJ's abuse team have exercising zero discretion and closing down fanfic sites.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-05-30 04:35 pm (UTC)
Of course. I understand.

I've just had a look at the TOS. I see that we've all bound ourselves not to "Upload, post or otherwise transmit any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive to another's privacy (up to, but not excluding any address, email, phone number, or any other contact information without the written consent of the owner of such information), hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;"

Sheesh. That rules out almost everything except My Pet Goat. "Vulgar" for instance. That's a real catch-all term. The clip of Podge and Rodge I just posted is vulgar. I guess I'm in violation.

If those terms were strictly employed they could shut down almost any of us on a whim.

I know LJ has to cover its back. But I'm inclined to think they've acted hastily- even in panic- here.
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[User Picture]From: zephyrcrow
2007-05-31 06:17 am (UTC)
When I joined LJ, "vulgar" wasn't on the list or I would have joined Blurty.

They have a tendency to amend their TOS very slightly every so often and never mention it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-05-31 07:54 am (UTC)
That's a really sneaky thing to do.

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[User Picture]From: methodius
2007-05-31 04:51 am (UTC)
I was watching Top Gear on TV last night.

It was reality TV with a vengeance.

Jeremy Clarkson and two colleagues had to each buy a car for $1000 dolars in Florida, and after various trials drive to New Orleans with various tests on the way. One was to camp for the night and eat only what they had found dead at the side of the road.

Then they had to paint things on each other's cars that would be their colleagues shot or arrested as they crossed Alabama. So one had "Man to man love rules OK" another had "Hillary for President" and the had some derogatory remarks about country and western music. They stopped for petrol and the garage owner called some thugs to beat them up. It was sound radio for a while, as the thugs also beat up the camera crew.

How's that for freedom of speech?

When they reached New Orleans they were supposed to sell their cars. But what they showed was unbelievable. More than a year after hurricane Katrina street after street was full of wrecked houses, wrecked vehicles, and the richest country in the world had done nothing to clean up. Far from selling the cars, they couldn't even give them away.

Their conclusion: don't go to America.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-05-31 07:46 am (UTC)
Jeremy Clarkson is strong meat. I sort of don't like him on principle, but there was a programme he did a year ago about winners of the V.C. that was simply breathtaking.

How odd that a programme about motor cars should develop such a sharp political edge.

Say what you like about him, the guy's fearless.
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