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.