Monday, March 09, 2009
Sanitized for Your Protection
On my recent vacation from this blog, I revisited one old haunt I vowed to never step foot in again. A sub forum of a cycling forum. I had grown tired of the hate and discontent, weary of the constant baiting, the insults flung just for the sake of flinging them. But I was invited back by a member I respect. Not sure why out of the blue this guy rang me up in the comment box on this blog, but he did.
So I dropped in. Then I dropped into another cycling forum that allowed political opinion. And then another. Finally I visited briefly a politics only forum I used to do battle on.
I am not sure why the government is worried about the Internets. It seems with each passing year, they become more bland and less provocative. At least in the forum world anyway. Many forums seem closed now to any outside view but the one the moderators, owners, forum Napoleons want it to project. It is as if there is a settling out and a clear division of ideas that is happening just like out here in the face to face world. No one wants to discuss different views. They all want to preach to the choir. Even the ones who contend they tolerate differing views often only tolerate them if foul language and insult are kept out of the equation.
I am the first one to admit that coarse language and getting personal is the sign one has lost the debate. There are a myriad of ways to insult that fall well within the parameters of "civilized discussion". And if truth be told, these are my favorites. But sometimes calling someone a fucking idiot can create a sense of satisfaction no civil words can match. Just ask Billy.
What I did notice on my little trip is that more sites have set up PC language filters. And because they cannot tell the difference between calling someone a bitch and someone talking about their female dog, many words get asterisked out that shouldn't. It is down right comical. Some of the language filters are sophisticated enough that they even stymie the attempts to get around them. Try to write "Shit" as "Shite" and every letter but the e is subbed with an *, so it becomes "You piece of ****e." The most egregious example was someone had typed a religious word "kum" in some thread. They meant nothing ugly or sexually descriptive. Yet it came out "Talitha ***". The poster was pointing out off topic the problems of translating the message of God. Apparently the little bytes in the program were having their own problems translating. The fact that he misspelled it did not help either. So what ended up happening is all of us were wondering what three letter found in the Bible would punch a red flag. I thought it was "ass". Regarless, the filter program ended up hindering the coonversation instead of helping.
This movement to protect our sensitive natures from words that are nothing but expressions of emotion is a sad situation in my opinion. Concerns over the children or the nuns, or the preacher just do not equate to me. Sanitizing our conversations is removing the color and texture from the equation. Intelligent people do not live to use cuss words. But they also should not be arbitrarily forbidden from their use. If I find someone cannot keep a civil tongue in their head at least some of the time, I tune them out, turn them off, ignore them. I resent some dumb ass program that is not even human taking that choice away from me.
Next week - All the cuss words I know.
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