Sunday, March 1, 2009

Censorship as a security substitute

I started this blog in large part because it will allow me to post and discuss some of my photography that my blog on Myspace won't allow. Not allowing nude work there is a form of censorship, but it's above board and palatable: one of the conditions for using our site is that you not post nude work. I can live with that. However, I posted a link to this blog in a bulletin on Myspace, thinking people who follow my blog there might come read this one. One big problem: when I set up this blog, I checked a box saying it will contain adult content, so Myspace sends the link to a page that says: "You have reached a link that is no longer in service. That means the link was very naughty, and, much like head lice, had to be eliminated before it spread. ... If you really did want to check out some spam, viruses, or phishing pages, we're really sorry to have interrupted. We're sure you can find it elsewhere. There's plenty on the Internet." Blocking spam, viruses, and known bad sites is one thing. It's called security. Blocking anything that has adult content is another. It's called censorship. Blocking anything that has adult content and saying it's to protect us from spam, viruses, and phishing is just lazy, sloppy implementation of security by censorship. It's also a bald-faced lie. Myspace should be ashamed. There's also a site called ModelMayhem where photographers and models network and post examples of the imagery they create. At one time it was one of the best sites on the net. This isn't intended to be a rant against ModelMayhem, so I won't go into the details and history, but the bottom line is that work marked as suitable for adults on ModelMayhem is now censored unless the viewer opts in each time they view the site. Note that it's opt in, not opt out - censorship is the default. Substituting censorship for personal responsibility is the same principal as substituting censorship for security. I freely admit that I find it offensive because I am one of the artists being censored, but I would not find it any less offensive if I wasn't in the targeted group. It's the lazy, easy solution rather than the right solution. When lazy people who look for the easy solution instead of the right solution are charged with implementing security, that's what you get. It's not a new concept. It's what led Benjamin Franklin to write his little witticism (that no one ever quotes correctly) about liberty and safety back when the liberty of Americans was first being threatened. It was the root of abuses committed against innocent people during the McCarthy era when any unpopular artist was labeled as "communist." We all know we've had an overdose of it in recent years with the Patriot Act abuses and circumvention of FISA. It's just in the nature of lazy people to use a cutting torch in place of a wrench, and to use restriction in place of protection, and as long as people tolerate it, the practice will continue. Censorship is an insidious thing that comes in many subtle forms. In a few rare cases it may be the lesser of two evils, but it is always evil. I don't know any way to function in this world without being subjected to it, but I will never remain quiet about it. The whole principal of substituting censorship for security, safety, and personal responsibility is toxic to art, free thought, and human dignity. It's one of the things in this world that truly disgusts and frightens me. I don't have enough years on this earth to waste time waiting while the censors protect me from myself.

1 comment:

  1. Censorship is annoying. When your kids plays a video game and the ladies have HUGE boobs and heart shaped ass's it makes you wonder why they wouldn't put a button on there saying your overage and able to comprehend the images your looking at.
    BTW, who & what is censorship protecting us from?

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