Fuck Cen***ship

I don’t like censorship. I don’t like asterisks, bleeps, black bars over “naughty areas,” or fluffing dubbing. According to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (courtesy of Elles), since my copy of the Oxford Not-Completely-Unabridged-But-Still-Huge English Dictionary is at home,

cen·sor

-noun
1.    an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.
2.    any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.
3.    an adverse critic; faultfinder.
4.    (in the ancient Roman republic) either of two officials who kept the register or census of the citizens, awarded public contracts, and supervised manners and morals.
5.    (in early Freudian dream theory) the force that represses ideas, impulses, and feelings, and prevents them from entering consciousness in their original, undisguised forms.
–verb (used with object)
6.    to examine and act upon as a censor.
7.    to delete (a word or passage of text) in one’s capacity as a censor.

censor, v.

trans. To act as censor to; see CENSOR n. 2b; spec. with reference to the control of news and the departmental supervision of naval and military private correspondence (as in time of war) or to the censorship of dramatic or cinematographic productions. Often in ppl. a.

censor, n.

2b. spec. An official in some countries whose duty it is to inspect all books, journals, dramatic pieces, etc., before publication, to secure that they shall contain nothing immoral, heretical, or offensive to the government. More explicitly dramatic censor, film censor.

Censorship is the act of altering media “for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.” Save for censorship of important military or legal information, none of the above are justifiable.

Most of what we see as obscene today is the result of the rotting remains of puritanism clogging our collective common sense-nostrils. Material containing or suggestive of swear words, nudity, violence, or drugs are all considered obscene in most cultures, except in America where the list excludes violence.

I’ll address why censorship of all of these is stupid and pointless in turn, starting with profanity. I’d list all the words we’re not supposed to say, but I prefer to make my word counts variations of the devil’s number naturally.

A proper answer as to why exactly these words are “bad” is very difficult to find. “They just are, respect mah authoritau” seems to be the most common response. Let’s take a look at what could make these words bad.

Could it be sound? No, if it were sound, fuck and duck would be just as profane. This is certainly not the case – “fuck” gets shocked looks in some circles, while “duck” makes people reach for the nearest slice of bread. “Aren’t they cute?”

It’s not meaning either. If it were, saying “to doom to eternal punishment or condemn to hell” would be just as bad as “damn”. Since one can presumably read the bible on television, this isn’t it.

All that’s left is “that particular combination of letters and the sounds they make are intrinsically bad because we say so.” Given the permeation of religious hangups and stupidity in the world, it seems likely that this person who says so is Jesus.

The last time I checked, zombies were not allowed to dictate morality (I’m pro-life when it comes to brain eating.) Non-existent zombies are even more un-allowed (non-existent since the bible lacks truthiness). There is no good reason to censor profanity. You can’t keep kids from learning “bad words”, they don’t harm people, and they can help one to make their damn point if used correctly (see what I did there?).

Next up, nudity. Puritanism strikes again. It smells a lot like burnt almonds. Actually, I don’t know what burnt almonds smell like, but I’m sure they smell like puritanism. Regardless of the smell of burnt almonds, we have another case of things being “wrong” because a bunch of upper class Victorians were told by Jesus that it’s “just wrong”. Nice reasoning there, eighteenth century British culture.

By stigmatising the human body, we manage to destroy the body images of anyone’s Hollywood hasn’t destroyed yet. People can do with a lot less confidence in their mental faculties, and a lot more in their bodies (excluding situations involving trailers, the southern United States, and people who could do with a lot less confidence in both areas). All the non-rednecks, however, certainly shouldn’t feel that there are parts of them that are approximately as evil as Mordor. To anyone who will never be able to see The Lord of the Rings the same way again, I apologise.

Still, a person should be able to be comfortable with a figure somewhere in between “anorexic” and “morbidly obese”, and a complexion slightly less perfect than you’d expect from a skin cream advertisement.

The Black Bars of censorship fail to do what they are intended to do. People know what breasts, penii, and vulvae look like (I admit that this sentence is almost entirely a perhaps excessively nerdy exercise in pluralization), and covering them with magical black bars or pixelating them certainly doesn’t decrease people’s desires to see what’s underneath. Christians, who are mostly responsible for this, of all people, should know what forbidden fruit tends to do.

Now for humanity’s favourite pastime: violence! Violence in media, be it games, television, movies, or “other” is a convenient scapegoat often used to explain actual violence. The problem is that, as most people should be aware, correlation does not equal causation. If violence in media is grounds for banning it because violent people often enjoy it, we should probably ban socks. I’m sure most school shooters were wearing socks at the time of their killing sprees.

A better explanation is that violent people like violent media because it’s a convenient outlet for their tendencies. It’s far better to kill simulated people than it is real people. The skills someone might gain through playing violent games or watching violent films or movies is almost completely inapplicable to real life. The skills needed to play a First Person Shooter game and actually shoot people are completely different. Being good at aiming with a mouse does not make one a sniper in real life.

Next up, drugs. Without getting into why the war on drugs is stupid, I’ll say that the war on information about drugs is really stupid. Yet again, we turn drugs into forbidden fruit by saying nothing about them and making actual information about them rather hard to find. There are substances that people put into their bodies to make them live longer. There are substances people put into their bodies to numb pain. There are also substances people put into their bodies to make songs sung by the Beatles make sense, and make themselves feel really good.

We should feel just as obligated to tell people the effects of tetrahydrocannabidol as we do to tell them of the effects of excessive acetaminophen on their livers. For the less chemically inclined, those are the active ingredient in marijuana and Tylenol, respectively.

All the things I’ve described above exist. Covering them up doesn’t help, and in fact does the opposite. Covering things up because we don’t like them is childish and stupid. Let the ideas roam free(ly).

Bunnies.

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21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Amanda on July 7, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Brav-fuckin-o Bunny! Once again, you delight me with your understanding of what most humans fail to grasp.

  2. I find Sagan’s quote especially applicable when it comes to censorship:

    It is better to see the world as it really is than to persist in delusion, however comforting it might be.

    Sagan wasn’t talking about censorship, really, but I think it’s applicable.

  3. Posted by Tibby on July 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Hehehe, nice going there Thrawn. I completely agree and think that you need some extra bunnymuffins for your good work ^_^

  4. YES. Most people don’t seem to get that when I say I’m anti-censorship, I mean of EVERYTHING, including nudity and “bad” words (interestingly, I never get any indignant responses to the violence part). It really pisses me off when things are bleeped on TV and radio – and if they say it’s “for the children,” hello, give me one semi-intelligent child who doesn’t know what the word is even if it’s bleeped.

    I like to take George Carlin’s word on this:

    “That’s what they told us they were, remember? ‘That’s a bad word.’ ‘Awwww.’ There are no bad words. Bad thoughts. Bad Intentions.”

  5. Posted by Nicole on July 8, 2008 at 1:44 am

    But if the word “fuck” wasn’t so taboo, then it wouldn’t feel so liberating and calming to say it when angry. 😛

  6. The plural of penis is “penes”.

  7. Posted by Amanda on July 8, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    fuck grammar

  8. My all-time “favorite” censorship: women being forced to wear a top in public to avoid fines where men are alowed to let their man-boobs flop freely. DISCRIMINATION! At least the female boobs have a biologically necessary function – man-boobs are just icky. And yet they’re more socially acceptable? I call BULLSHIT!

  9. Posted by rdthrawn on July 8, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I know what the correct plural for “penis” is, but “penii” sounds so much better.

    Fuck is still a fun word even if it isn’t taboo. Fluffle. Fuck fuck fluffle fuck fluffle.

    As to breastseses, I would imagine it’s because they are indeed pleasant to look at. Topless males are also pleasant to look at, but logical consistency and religion don’t generally mix well. Remember kids, if it feels good, it means you’re going to hell!

  10. Posted by rdthrawn on July 8, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    …incidentally, I’m fairly certain that toplessness is technically legal for everyone in Ontario, though I’m not sure. We’d need to consult a Shirtlessologist.

  11. Yes, toplessness in public for all is perfectly legal in Ontario (the province in Canada, not the city in California). And remarkably, the entire province did not descend into the abyss for making it so. I think once the novelty wore off, within about two weeks of the legislation, things pretty much returned to normal.

  12. What do you mean “penii” sounds better? Come on everyone, repeat after me “pee-neez, pee-neez, pee-neez”. Isn’t that more fun than “pee-nee-eye”?
    Of course neither is as much fun to say as “epididymis”. Biology has the coolest words.

  13. Posted by jaded_facade on July 9, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Censorship in general is something that’s always infuriated me. It’s the principle of the thing, one human telling another human that they ought not to say/view/hear something, and usually for illogical reasons. That doesn’t sit well with me. Then again the human race isn’t noted for being overly ration, is it?

  14. Fuckkity fuck fuck fuck. Fuck yeah!

    Thrawn, I think I love you! =)

    Fuckkity fuck.

  15. There are some things that people can be exposed to that are harmful. For example, there was an incident where a senior student showed a younger student a beheading video on Youtube at school, which caused quite a bit of distress to the younger student. Of course, the response was not to bolster the acceptable use policy, but to ban Youtube. Go figure.

  16. It’s “penae” not “penii.”

  17. I hate it when, for example, I were to say:

    “We should make it to the airport on time if we don’t get into an accident or have a flat tire”

    and then the customer says: DON’T SAY THAT ! !

    I hate it because of the stupidity that my very words my have the superstitious “power” to make my statement come true.

    That too is a form, albeit a weak form, of censorship of me and what I want to fucking say. It’s a polite way of saying to me. SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    What Say Ye?

    Servetus

  18. Posted by coke addict on July 15, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    yep.. there ain’t no point in trying to prevent kids from learning bad words.. they eventually take up the habit of using those words anyway…

  19. Posted by Αιφε Νι Χηοχηλαιν on July 1, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Burnt almonds smell almost exactly like shit. So there you are.

    I do love definition 5: “(in early Freudian dream theory) the force that represses ideas, impulses, and feelings, and prevents them from entering consciousness in their original, undisguised forms.”

    You know, the “NAKEDNESS IS A SIN!” thing originated far longer ago; in the middle ages up through the late 18th century, removing all one’s clothing at one time was considered immodest, sinful, and generally “bad”. I’m not saying it’s not stupid-if you didn’t remove all of your clothing at one time, you would have no descendants (which is a minor problem…).

    I do love the black bars of doom-especially when used gratuitously. However, they are extremely pointless to anyone who’s ever taken a 7th grade health class since you already know what’s under the black bars of doom or the pixels.

    Well, as for drugs (exceedingly pointless, please see 7th grade health class) and violence (again pointless, because any child who watches television, unless they can only watch Sesame Street, already has seen it), well…future commentators-please proceed in abusing censorship.

    Finally, swearing. Living in a middle (soon to be high) school environment for slightly less than half of the year (although it feels like eternities) has educated me in many ways, but mostly that even if you came from the most religious and isolated childhood, you know at least 5 swearwords by the 6th grade. If you say them in front of an educator, of course, it’s instant “I banish you to the Principal’s office!!” and go through a process which could give you up to an out-of-school suspension. (Gasp, I get to take a vacation from school. Oh no. Such torture.)

    Finally: FUCKED UP SHIT YOU BASTARD/BITCH! DAMN YOU!! GO TO HELL YOU ASSWIPE!!! SHITPICKLES!

    *bows*

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