If You Meet A Censor, Ask Why They Haven't Become Moral Degenerates Themselves

from the simple-questions dept

Last year, we wrote about one of China’s chief censors, the creator of the Great Firewall of China, who did an interview where he talked about how important censorship was to protect people — while also noting that he, himself, had five VPN accounts to get around the Great Firewall… for research purpose only (he promised). I’m reminded of this while reading an interview with a Kuwaiti censor who seems quite proud of her role in keeping horrible content from being consumed by people in Kuwait — while also talking about how much she gets to learn in reading all this content.

I found out about this interview from Adam Thierer, who has a simple question he thinks every censor should be asked:

But here’s where the reporter missed a golden opportunity to ask Dalal the one question that you must always ask a censor if you get to meet one: If the content you are censoring is so destructive to the human soul or psyche, how then is it that you are such a well-adjusted person? And Dalal certainly seems like a well-adjusted person. Although the reporter doesn’t tell us much about her personal life or circumstances, Dalal volunteers this much about herself and her fellow censors: “Many people consider the censor to be a fanatic and uneducated person, but this isn’t true. We are the most literate people as we have read much, almost every day. We receive a lot of information from different fields. We read books for children, religious books, political, philosophical, scientific ones and many others.” Well of course you do… because you are lucky enough to have access to all that content! But you are also taking steps to make sure the rest of your society doesn’t consume it on the theory that it would harm them or harm public morals in some fashion. But, again, how is it that you have not been utterly corrupted by it all, Ms. Dalal? After all, you get to consume all that impure, sacrilegious, and salacious stuff! Shouldn’t you be some kind of monster by now?

Thierer goes on to posit that the “Third-Person Effect Hypothesis” explains the issue. It says that “people will tend to overestimate the influence that mass communications have on the attitudes and behavior of others,” while assuming, however, that they are somewhat immune to those effects. It’s an interesting post, and that question should be used whenever anyone has the pleasure of meeting (or better yet, interviewing) an official government censor.

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Comments on “If You Meet A Censor, Ask Why They Haven't Become Moral Degenerates Themselves”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Censors have already embraced evil and immorality, a different kind then the kind they’re supposed to fight. A censor is a power hungry fanatic who doesn’t care who else they harm in their fight against ‘evil’ and ‘immorality’.

Which pretty much describes most governments from the dark ages. Declare that your the only one true followers of the lord, and use that as your justification to inflict lots of harm on other kingdoms as you burn their property and slaughter all who refuse to convert. Because the 10 commandments don’t apply to you when you’re fighting someone you’ve declared evil, even when fighting others of the same religion as you!



A parallel is the big, tough, he-man FBI agent who, after seeing every sort of cruelty and bloodshed without batting an eye, breaks down and blubbers like a little girl when he sees an allegedly illegal bit of underage porn.

Bob Dobbs said it best: “the reason I don’t practice what I preach is that I’m not the sort of person I’m preaching to.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Getting past the whole ‘Censorship is only control’ thing, you have to consider what they’re censoring. Yes, undesirable political speech, making the censors more even minded in such matters, or so blind that they can’t see the point of view. But they also would come across the veritable flood of pirated copyright material. And they’re paid by the government to view and filter it. Censors: Kings of Piracy.

Joe says:

Re: Re:

I’d be SICK of Hollywood and Bollywood movies by the first year. Heck, probably a month since mostly only movies from the last few years are heavily illegally copied. Can you imagine actually getting tired of entertainment? Worse yet, you’re not allowed to just sit back and enjoy them. Your job (assuming you have any work ethic) is to find all the problems with a movie frame-by-frame and determine what is kosher and what needs to be edited.

egghead (profile) says:

What about parental filters?

Shouldn’t this question also be applied to those parents choosing to censor the internet for their precious little children? How about trying some real parenting for a change? Teach your children what is right, wrong and a morality judgement. The more you censor content, the more the child will try to see what you’re hiding. I’m not saying you should point them at the bad sites, but don’t bar them from looking. Keep an open dialog with them about what they find and use it as a teaching moment. Be a parent, not a censor!

Anonymous Coward says:

Censors are watched more carefully


The point I’m making is that I think this article is wrong – they are more prone to becoming “moral degenerates”, and their bosses know it. Supposedly, Dalal, has been able to not be corrupted with all those concepts of free speech, etc that he’s exposed to. But I bet that other censors have not been able to successfully avoid being tainted by western thoughts.

The fact that there exists people who can read Thoreau without being moved to sympathize with his ideas of civil disobedience, doesn’t mean that a tyrannical government would be wise to let all their subjects read it.

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