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   2014: April-June

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20th June

 Updated: 'I've had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane'...

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graham norton samuel l jackson On the edition of The Graham Norton Show that aired last Friday, Samuel L. Jackson was a guest and he was asked specifically about when his films are re-dubbed for TV. He explained that as he almost always did the re-dubbing himself he would come up with the most ridiculous phrases possible to replace that specific expletive, including Maryland Farmer (I think the Americans pronounce it Marylyn), Money Feelers and Monkey Fighting . They showed the re-dubbed version of the famous clip from Snakes On A Plane, using the phrases Monkey Fighting and Monday To Friday in place of the two expletives.
 

Monkey Fighting Censors

19th June See  article from  sploid.gizmodo.com

The same interview seems to have inspired a further look at ridiculous overdubs on US TV.

samuel jackson monkey fighting I can understand bleeping offensive words but changing entire iconic lines from movies like The Departed, Scarface, The Usual Suspects, or Pulp Fiction into absolutely ridiculous stuff is offensively stupid.

...Read the full article

 

12th June

 Offsite Article: SAVE Act Endangers Online Content Platforms...

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US SenateUS considers bill that endangers websites with user content all in the name of preventing trafficking

See article from cdt.org

 

1st June

  Operation Choke Point...

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US government uses denial of banking services to censor what it does not like
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doj logo The Justice Department's Operation Choke Point initiative has been shrouded in secrecy, but now it is starting to come to light. It is so named because through strangling the providers of financial services to the targeted industries, the government can choke off the oxygen (money) needed for these industries to survive. Without an ability to process payments, the businesses, especially online vendors, cannot survive.

The general outline is the DOJ and bank regulators are putting the screws to banks and other third-party payment processors to refuse banking services to companies and industries that are deemed to pose a reputation risk to the bank. Tom Blumer's extremely informative post summarizing what is known to date about Operation Choke Point reproduces the list of businesses affected, which includes things such as ammunition sales, escort services, get-quick-rich schemes, on-line gambling, racist materials and payday loans. Quite obviously, some of these things are not like the other; moreover, just because there are some bad apples within a legal industry doesn't justify effectively destroying a legal industry through secret executive fiat.

There are also reports that porn stars (and here) have had their bank accounts terminated for moral reasons related to the reputation risk of banking individuals in the porn industry. So far, one of the porn stars has sued to try to determine why his loan application was denied.

The larger legal and regulatory issue here is the expansive use of the vague and subjective standard of reputation risk to target these industries. In a letter to Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, last week, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling expressed concern over the growing use of reputation risk as a vehicle for attacking legal businesses.

 

21st May

 Extract: Warning: This Headline Contains Irony...

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Trigger warnings on classic literature are one small step from book banning
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Great Gatsby Wordsworth Classics There's a discussion that's been heating up for a while in various corners of the internet, and now at a number of US colleges , about how we take in information, and whether that information should be treated with what essentially constitutes a warning label -- so long as it's likely to impact anyone in an unfavorable way due to their personal background, emotional state and/or life experiences. We call these emotional disclaimers trigger warnings , alerting a consumer that the content within might offend or cause distress.

This is triggering (and therefore requires a trigger warning) is a phrase you might see in the comments section of an online article that addresses racism, rape, war, anorexia or any number of subjects about which a discussion may not leave the reader with a care-free, fuzzy sort of feeling.

It's a phrase that's been requested this semester by a number of college students to be applied to classic books -- The Great Gatsby (for misogyny and violence), Huck Finn (for racism), Things Fall Apart (for colonialism and religious persecution), Mrs. Dalloway (for suicide), Shakespeare (for ... you name it).

...Read the full article

 

28th April

  Mutual Support...

Whingers lean on council about supposedly offensive sculpture
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mark chatterley The sculptor who created Blue Human Condition , A censored piece featured in the Adrian Art Discovery installation in downtown Adrian, Michegan, says he was surprised and disappointed to learn that there were people who found it offensive. Mark Chatterley told Adrian Today:

I thought it was a pretty normal piece that didn't have any kind of sexual connotations. I really had to work at it to think about how it would offend people. I just didn't get it.

The sculptor shows seven androgynous figures resting on each other in various poses. Chatterley said the vision behind the piece was to portray the way people depend on each other. Chatterley explained:

My initial thought was that we all need each other for support. We can't do it alone and we are a global village, so we are all resting on someone else to survive. That's what this piece is about.

Whingers has complained to the city council that the sculpture was sexually suggestive, and the word orgy was used to describe it.

Update: A Pastor Rants

5th May 2014. See  article from  gaystarnews.com

A US pastor has slammed a contemporary sculpture unveiled last month, claiming it depicts a gay sex orgy even though the figures are sexless. Local pastor Rick Strawcutter uploaded a video to YouTube to vent his anger about such a sculpture being on public display .

In the video, entitled Adrian City Commission Is Leading Us to Sodom , he not only attacks the sculpture, but also attacks the city commission for voting in favour of equal rights for LGBT people, who he says are an abomination. Everyone I know who sees this just feels like it is in itself an abomination he said. Making various references to Sodom and Gomorrah, the Bible and God he also attacked what he called the gay agenda.

Support for the artist and the statue is evident as an online petition sprung up in order to stop the town from censoring or removing the sculpture. However, the sculpture was moved to Yew Park, as it was considered there would be less traffic and pedestrians.

 

1st April

 Update: US Book Censorship Outsourced to China...

China bans US book destined for worldwide release in English speaking countries
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Thirst L A Larkin ebook The notion that the formerly mighty American publisher Reader's Digest would allow the Chinese Communist party to censor its novels would once have appeared so outrageous as to be unimaginable. In the globalised world, what was once unimaginable is becoming commonplace, however. The Australian novelist LA (Louisa) Larkin has learned the hard way that old certainties no longer apply as the globalisation of trade leads to the globalisation of authoritarian power.

Larkin published Thirst in 2012. She set her thriller in an Antarctic research station, where mercenaries besiege a team of scientists. China is not a major theme of a novel set in Antarctica. But Larkin needed a back story for her Wendy Woo character who was linked with the villains of her drama. So she wrote that Chinese authorities arrested and tortures Woo's mother for being a member of the banned religious group Falun Gong.

Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a worldwide audience in the English edition for the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

But the publishers had outsourced its printing to China. The printing firm noticed the heretical passages in Larkin's novel. All references to Falun Gong had to go, it said, as did all references to agents of the Chinese state engaging in torture. They demanded censorship, even though the book was not set for distribution in China.

Phil Patterson from Larkin's London agents, Marjacq Scripts, tried to explain the basics for a free society to Reader's Digest . To allow China to engage in extraterritorial censorship of an Australian novelist writing for an American publisher would set a very dangerous precedent , he told its editors. Larkin told me she would have found it unconscionable to change her book to please a dictatorship. When she made the same point to Reader's Digest, it replied that if it insisted on defending freedom of publication, it would have to move the printing from China to Hong Kong at a cost of US$30,000.

Reader's Digest decided last week to accept the ban and scrap the book.