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.


(625 / 2368)


BBC said...

Having spent my youth in a mining and logging town where even the Catholic father swore most of the time I suppose I know most swear words. And swearing is just a peaceful way to let off steam or express yourself.

I've never done forums as such, but suppose that is pretty much what blogs are.

Hey, keep your snow over there, I don't want anymore of it.

Demeur said...

It kind of shocks me that cyclists would be so political but then in today's situation we've become too focused on economy, war and politics.
Profanity is like hot spices in cooking. A little bit is okay from time to time but 1/2 lb. of chilli powder dumped in the receipe makes the dish ineatable.
Then this makes me wonder how the PC filter deals with such words as Essex, NY, sextuplets, breast cancer or condamnation. Does the audience of that site now have to resort the the Orbitz gum form of swearing? Dirty mouth?

BBC said...

Do you have winter tires for bikes there? Or do folks there just stop biking in the winter?

Chef Cthulhu said...

What the fuck?!?!?

That's the fucking most fuck-tarded fucked up piece of fuck-stew I've ever fucking seen!

Hmm...I see you don't have the software.

It is a shame that these things happen. One thing about it that incenses me is that those people directing said profane vitriol at others are most likely gutless, and would never "nut up" in public and say it to someone's face. The comfort of quasi-anonymity releases inhibitions and, if not closely moderated, dilutes the value of discussions.

Even in some independent (and perfectly polite) professional forums I peruse (one of which I moderate) there are always the "cyber-stasi" that you just don't cross because you will be persona-non-grata in their little feifdom.

Your screening software story reminds me of when I was stationed in Bahrain about 10 years ago. The national telephone company ran the internet, and had filters installed to prevent you from surfing porn. However, the keywords were all basic, sexually-related words. Nobody actually screened sites for content. So, for example, a website called "" would not come up, because it had - you guessed it - "breast" in the title. But if "" was full of nastyness well, it loaded up fine. I returned in '06 and they had overcome the problem; you could surf whatever site you wanted.

MRMacrum said...

BBC - I feel about profane language like I do any other speech. It should not be censored. Of course, that does not mean it is a good odea to use it all the time. If over used, it has a way of turnng people off. I grew up in the military. I imagine the usage of cuss words was at least equal to your mining town experience.

And yes we have winter tires with carbide studs in them, but they do not help in snow, only on ice or packed snow. Some folks ride year round.

Demeur - Think about it. What other activity crosses so many economic and cultural boundaries like cycling? Not many. And actually there is a growing population of cyclists who see the bike as the answer and everything in their life revolves aound destroying the "SUV world".

Chef - Fuckin A bro! No filters here. When I was in High school, 5 of us cadets had a contest. The one that could use "fuck" the most times in a sentence got the odd beer from the six pack that was left. I won. Can't remember how many I used but it was a fuck load.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

Tis a good point you make in your post. In the PC world, one has to wonder how does one recognize the educated from the uneducated, of both are reduced to using the same language usage? Me thinks that if anglo-saxon words were banned, the world would be alot quieter---and yes a bit boring.

Bill said...

I've never run into these anti-profanity bots but I have pissed off a couple of right-wing Christian bloggers enough so they began screening comments and ... screened me right out. I can be insulting at times. I don't get many comments in my blog but every-once-in-awhile I get a right-winger who gets his or her jollies ad homineming me in cuss. It's annoying but hey, if they want to make an ass of themselves it's no skin off my back. Right?

BBC said...

I haven't biked for months, some hot chick should spank my ass. LOL

Demeur said...

Yeah I could just picture you Billy in skin tight bike pants. Eeeewww!

Randal Graves said...

I always knew the pro-cycling crowd was full of filthy hedonists who never thought about the children. Nor the nuns.

Kulkuri said...

Fuck is such an interesting word. It has many uses, noun, verb, adjective, adverb and maybe even a dangling participle whatever the fuck that is. It certainly is a good modifier. When it comes to censoring "dirty words" you can thank the Puritans and the modern Bible-Bangers. Of course there are also those who think they are the arbiters of correctness, political or otherwise.

MRMacrum said...

Old Dude - I do try to make my points without resorting to cussin and fussin. When I get lost doing it usually means I am frustrated and cannot come up with a coherent response. But I do resent that I do not have all options available.

Bill - When I first began interacting with people on th eInternet it was in various newsgroups. No automatic censorship, but many would just ask you to leave.

But thankfully we have not seen this in the blogging orld to any great degree here in the States. Besides with some of the truly obnoxious stuff I have seen on blogs and elsewhere on th eWeb, nasty language has to rate pretty low. Thanks for stopping by.

BBC - Somethin gtells me Billy you would get off on it. Sounds kinda fun to me.

Demeur - yeah Billy with riding tights on. There's an image to scare small children and make the ladies swoon.

Randal - Actually Cyclists are controlled by a secret organization of world domination freaks. It's a kind of retro New World Order thing.

Kulkiri - I would say that Fuck is probably the single most useful word of the English language. One could argue that "Dude" is. But "Dude" depends too much on inflection.

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