GORDON: Welcome readers to another exciting installment of [redacted], where we’ll be discussing [censored] and the [undisclosed] surrounding it.
(The topic for today is censorship, for anyone baffled by my oh-so-subtle clues…)
While this topic did originate out of Evan’s and my discussion of TV (how we’d deal with rating systems, more specifically) we HAVE touched on this topic before, with our previous discussion of the UK’s automatic porn-block for British ISPs.
KAT: You guys actually included a poll in your discussion on television, too. And while there weren’t an awful lot of votes, it seems like more readers agreed with censoring daytime TV to some degree.
Censorship is such a big topic, but before we go much further, let me get an idea of how you feel about it. Is censorship ever okay? If so when? And by who?
GORDON: I grew up in a country where censorship inundated every part of life. There were rules everywhere dictating what you could or couldn’t say, write, or show- really and truly on an Orwellian level. Needless to say, this kinda affected my perspective on things.
I strongly, STRONGLY believe that certain things should not be said or be given a platform, but I don’t feel that this oughta be legislated. If there’s a racist show on the air, I want it taken off by the channel at the threat of a boycott by people on the ground, NOT by the FCC or some governing agency…
KAT: So for those of us (like myself) who don’t really know how the FCC operates in censoring media, can you elaborate a bit?
GORDON: These are basically the guys who- in this country- lay down the rules for what can and cannot be shown/said on TV. They’re the ones who limit you to a certain number of swear words before the episode gets a higher rating (or blocked, depending on how bad it gets), when nudity can be shown (and for how long), what kinds of violence can be displayed, and so on and so forth.
KAT: I’m assuming it’s pretty similar to our CRTC.
So how would television function without any basic rules for what can be shown? Are there any countries who don’t have some kind of government intervention with regards to media? Also, isn’t it a little un-socialist to want laissez-faire television?
GORDON: I wouldn’t say that unlimited freedom of expression is “laissez-faire”.
KAT: Fair enough. but to give a Canadian example (and let me know if this is getting into a whole different area), we have Canadian content requirements in order to prevent all of our media sources from being completely flooded with American news/shows/etc. This isn’t censorship per se, but it is the government having an active role in the media we watch… and which I approve of. Especially as the majority of Canadian kids know more about you guys than they do about their own country.
GORDON: I wouldn’t disagree with this either- it strikes me as just a means of making sure everyone has a voice. Certainly something important as more and more power gets focused into fewer and fewer hands.
And another interesting trend, I want to point out, is the emergence of internet TV- Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards being the most famous examples (though certainly not the first). The FCC, which regulates television in the US, has absolutely no power over anything shown online, meaning that pretty much everything shown is at the discretion of the folks making these shows.
KAT: That is something really relevant to point out. How does censorship work at all in the “wild west” of the internet? When googling censorship I (ironically) came across a petition against Google for censoring YouTube comments. So that kind of censorship seems especially troublesome, because it puts the power in the hands of companies rather than government. Though to be honest I don’t know anything about this particular issue beyond what I read in the comments.
GORDON: I’d probably just echo Engels in calling the government the executive branch of capital, but that’s probably taking the conversation somewhere it doesn’t need to go. And this is a really and truly weird time for the whole government-market mash-up. On one hand, yeah, we’ve got companies which are pretty dang cavalier about abusing their customers- at the same time, we’re seeing some companies actually react against government groups like the NSA for using them as middlemen in their domestic espionage games. [censored] be crazy.
But let’s talk about banned books for a minute. I’m guessing the very idea of books being yanked out of libraries gets your hackles up, eh?
KAT: Oh, for sure. Although there is something about banning a book that gives them all the more power. One of my professors told us that his dad went out and bought a black market copy of Ulysses back in the day thinking it would be dirty… then when he tried to read it he couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to read it, much less ban it. The main reason I don’t agree with banning books is because I think they actually create more exposure for the thing that people may want to prevent from gaining attention. A book like Mein Kampf, for example. It’s not like would want any neo-Nazis to get their hands on a copy, but by preventing them from reading it we could just be allowing them to think of themselves as that much more justified in their “struggle”.
I imagine your view on banning books is similar to your opinion on the FCC?
GORDON: I certainly don’t disagree with you, though the most immediate reasons that spring to mind when the question of censorship comes up (especially in regards to TV) is the junk that I think is offensive, vile, and dangerous typically isn’t what other people think is offensive, vile, and dangerous. TLC- I’m looking at you.
And on top of that, I think there’s gotta be said something for our general hypocrisy when it comes to us trying to draw lines, y’know?
There’s this one bit by comedian Bill Hicks when he’s talking about the definition of pornography as… well, check out the first couple minutes of this bit below (and be warned, it’s pretty edgy):
It’s tough for me to be able to support these kinds of “protective measures” when they (1) don’t really protect anyone and (2) give some kind of tacit approval to junk which is bad.
KAT: You mean the protective measures of the FCC?
GORDON: Or any kind of body trying to legislate this stuff.
KAT: Hmm, interesting. I’ve never actually considered if there is any legislation regarding censorship I would agree with. I think, to refer back to you advertising example, I would support certain kinds of legislated censorship. Like the example from your discussion with Evan, I would really rather not have my (non-existent) children exposed to certain things, at least not be constantly bombarded by them. So I might agree with legislated restrictions on when certain things can be shown (or where, on the internet). I also would love to see more legislation restricting advertising. Would you be against that kind of censorship (or advertising, in particular)?
GORDON: As much as everything within me would love to see limits on how often that ****ing gecko can appear on TV, I still feel compelled to say no- though we’re just talking about a governmental level here, not about the actual broadcasting company. Take the whole Duck Dynasty controversy for example:
Do I agree with that one bearded dude about gays?
Do I think he has a right to say whatever he wants?
Do I think the government can legislate what he can say or when he can say it?
Do I think that A&E should be pressured into giving that air time to someone with better views?
I mean, I didn’t think it was the end of the world that ONE dude said some ignorant stuff in ONE segment, but that’s neither here nor there I suppose.
KAT: Fair enough. That being said, I think money talks more than.. well, words. Do you really think Geico is ever going to stop playing that ad over and over and over and over because people like you and me tell them not to? As long as it is still making them money, probably not.
GORDON: You’re saying we need to abolish money. I agree completely.
You heard it here first, people- Kat is leading us in the glorious revolution against the bourgeois taskmasters!
ARISE YE WORKERS FROM YOUR SLUMBER!
KAT: Haha. And Gordon is able to read whatever he wants to out of what you say.
GORDON: and with the sound of distant thunder and red flags being raised on every hill and in every favella, and with the resplendent sound of a thousand voices crying out as one “Viva Kat! Leader of the glorious people’s struggle!”, we’re just about out of time for the day.
Be sure to leave your comments below and weigh in on the discussion.
KAT: And in case I don’t survive the revolution, I appoint Gordon as our new communist overlord. We’ll see how he feels about censorship then.
Thanks again for joining us.