Censorship

2007 06 05
Protecting my dainty fucking eyes


By now you’ve probably seen the hilarious court ruling on the F.C.C.’s attempts to level hefty fines against television and radio stations for obscenities. In today’s dead tree edition, the NYT has this, among other things, to tell us about the case:

. . . the judges then cited examples in which Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had used the same language that would be penalized under the policy. Mr. Bush was caught on videotape last July using a common vulgarity that the commission finds objectionable in a conversation with Tony Blair of Britain. Three years ago, Mr. Cheney was widely reported to have muttered an angry obscene version of “get lost” to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the United States Senate.

I find it silly that the NYT is too delicate to tell its readers what the president and vice president actually said. For one thing, if the NYT reported the actual words it would be mentioning them rather than using them. This makes all the difference in the world, I think. Second, knowing what the actual words used on those occasions are is actually relevant to questions about their obscenity in all sorts of ways. For example, it gets harder to claim that “go fuck yourself” violates community standards when the vice president evidently feels unembarrassed about blurting the phrase out in the middle of the United States Senate. And there is, finally, something a bit funny about the NYT being seized by delicacy while covering an issue about the F.C.C.’s over-delicate approach to language.


Howls of outrage (2)

2005 06 19
Aw, Belgium


Harry Farrell at Crooked Timber writes:

Matt Yglesias notes that “MPAA rules for avoiding an R-Rating � allow you up to two uses of “fuck” as long as the word appears in a non-sexual context.” A bit reminiscent of the “Rory” Award, featured in Douglas Adams� Life, the Universe and Everything, which was granted for the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word “Fuck” in a Serious Screenplay. In the US edition of LTUAE, this was changed to the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word “Belgium” in a Serious Screenplay, neatly proving Matt’s point about the unique censoriousness of American media.

I had no idea that was the case, and I’m annoyed to learn it. On the other hand, much to my chagrin I actually find “Belgium” a bit funnier.

Anyone else have the same reaction? Be honest.


Howls of outrage (11)

2004 06 07
Democracy and a free press


Bush’s plan to promote democracy in the Middle East at the G8 meeting is encountering a bit of resistance. No one is a saint here, but the Bush administration appears to have done just about everything possible to scuttle its own plans. My favourite bit of silliness is this:

In another source of irritation surrounding the summit meeting, the United States declined to invite the leadership of Qatar, on grounds that it had continued to play host to the broadcast network Al Jazeera, which the administration has accused of inciting anti-American violence in Iraq.

American, European and Arab officials confirmed that Qatar, a tiny Persian Gulf country, had not been invited because of American complaints about Al Jazeera. Arab countries and Europeans participants have expressed concern. “It’s strange, having a summit declaration on democratic reforms and not inviting a country because it has a free press,” one diplomat said.

Unbelievable. I knew that Powell had been trying to persuade Qatar to clamp down on Al Jazeera, but I didn’t realize that this effort would get so counterproductive so quickly.

Every single time democracy-promotion conflicts with some other U.S. priority, it is democracy-promotion that gets sidelined. In other words, there is no real effort to promote democracy. That’s because promoting democracy when (and only when) it is convenient leads regimes to plan for democracy when its convenient for them – and somehow it just never is.

Update: More here, if case you have an insatiable appetite for dishonesty. As I’ve said before, just try to imagine another country bringing complaints about Fox News to the Bush administration. They’d be crazy right? Right?


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