I fell victim to the ultimate form of censorship this week, and it has gotten me so irate that I decided to dispense with my ‘no ranting’ rule and have a bloody good, full on whinge about it. Allow me to explain what happened . . .
I am in the process of creating an internet ‘buzz’ around my forthcoming novel Peeper and am doing the usual rounds of social media bombardment and guest appearances on blogs. One of these blogs is that of fellow writer of erotica Kay Dee Royal, who kindly agreed to interview me and provide a little advertising for my novel. So she sent me a list of questions to answer, and I dutifully filled in the form and sent it back, and Kay told me I would be appearing on her blog on June 8th and she would send me a link so I could spam the fuck out of all my friends. All good so far.
The problem occurred when her blog went live and I received the link to go view it, and instead of seeing my interview and lovely pictures of my book cover, I saw the following message from my mobile network provider: This content is designated adults only and is blocked.
As you would imagine, I used several words at that moment which would have the internet censors scrambling for cover with their hands over their ears. “Fuck!” I shouted. “Fucking arseholing bollocking ball bags.” I was – I should point out – in the middle of nowhere, and without access to my home broadband was entirely reliant upon my smart phone to conduct my online affairs.
In a nutshell, my mobile network provider EE had censored me from reading back my own words; answers I’d given as part of an interview were being deemed far too rude for my poor little mind to cope with. Thank fuck these cocksniffers are here to protect me from myself, huh?
This opens up a whole new debate as far as I’m concerned. Namely, why are words being censored? I can see the point of censoring hard core porn sites - making sure that people who have no fucking clue about anything can happily hand over a smart phone to their offspring and sleep content at night, secure in the knowledge their little darlings can’t see anything they aren’t supposed to.
But the censorship of words is – to my mind – the ultimate nonsense. Allow me to explain what I mean. I want you to read the following sentence, and then close your eyes and allow its meaning to sink into your mind:
Barry and Mary went upstairs to make love.
Okay, so what did these words make you see? Maybe you’re a Mary Whitehouse type, and the idea of Barry and Mary having sex leaves you frothing at the mouth and indignantly reaching for your bible. Maybe you are slightly dirty minded, and saw Barry and Mary going at it hell for leather, naked and sweaty. Or maybe you are a total deviant, and saw Barry as a shy bi-curious man finally coming out of his shell and taking the butt-pounding of a lifetime from a seven foot tall Congolese transvestite named Mary.
The point is, any one of these scenarios are entirely possible. Words are nothing but symbols on a page which, when fed through our brain, can be transformed into images by our imaginations. So what is it exactly that needs to be censored – is it the words themselves, or is it our own thought processes? The only place that words can truly be transformed into pornography is in the depths of our own minds.
Censorship of words is censorship of the imagination - of our interpretation of a description, which is as individual to each of us as our fingerprints. How can you stop people from seeing things in their mind’s eye that you may not like? If I were to say the word ‘stiff’ I may be talking about a yardbrush, but you may see a massive, throbbing cock. Should the word ‘stiff’ be removed from the dictionary to protect the terminally fucked up, or would it be easier to simply lobotomise us all at birth so we’re protected from our own imaginations? God forbid we should think about something that a Daily Mail reader may not like.
And of course, the ultimate irony to all this is that while I was staring at the screen of my smart phone in disbelief at the declaration that I was being blocked from accessing a page full of my own words, there were probably myriad teenagers sitting in the back row of their geography lessons, giggling as they used their phones to watch the latest sex tape of some wannabe glamour model getting pounded by a footballer, as they are far smarter with smart technology than the rest of us.
I’m sure my mobile provider would argue it is easy for me to remove this block from my service, but why should I have to go to the trouble? They didn’t presume I was under eighteen when I signed up to their credit agreement and handed over my money, so why are they assuming I’m a child now? Should censorship not be an opt in device for concerned parents, rather than the default setting used to piss off innocent perverts like myself?
For anyone who is interested, here is the link to Kay Dee Royal’s blog:
She’s a very nice lady, and you should all stop by for a visit. Hopefully the words you see written on the screen won’t damage your mind and condemn your mortal soul to the flames of hell.