Regarding Censorship in the Forums

Published by Arathald in the blog Arathald's blog. Views: 100

I'm rather upset right now, and I feel that writing a rant here is the best way for me to vent my frustration. Why am I so frustrated? Well, it's not just one thing, it's a lot of little things in the past few days that have added up to make me feel this way.

First, let's talk about my signature, but, before we do, I need to give you a little background. When the recent earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, I was devastated. I studied as an exchange student over there, and seeing such destruction wipe through a country I grew to love as a second home while I was away was very difficult for me. In response to this, I began using the following as my signature:
The second part of this signature is a traditional Japanese poem that I believe encompasses an very important aspect of the Japanese spirit, and I provide a full translation of it into English. The first is a Japanese expression that very roughly translates as "I'm praying for Japan." Even though this is the most common translation into English, it's a very crude butchering of the actual Japanese phrase, which is more general and secular than the English translation, implies a strong sense of referring to the physical and spiritual health and well-being of the country, and also has a strong element of hope that may not come across very well in the English. In short, the English translation doesn't do it justice.

My signature was removed, and when I asked, it seems that it violates a rule about foreign language in posts that I overlooked, as I was searching specifically in the rules pertaining to signatures. This is perfectly fair, I can't have a signature that violates the rules. I asked if it was permissable to use if I provide a verification of the English translations to assure the mods that the Japanese text contains nothing inappropriate. When I provided the translations and independent verification of them, I was asked why I couldn't just use the English version, and, even though I explained this in detail, I haven't heard back from the mods in over 24 hours, despite seeing many other posts from them. While this doesn't scream of intentional censorship, I feel that I was left hanging, and I don't even know if I'm going to be allowed to express my solidarity with the people I grew to love when I lived in Japan, at least in the way that I feel is most appropriate to do.

EDIT: I missed that Cogito removed the foreign text from his signature in response. While, frankly, I think it's silly, since the Japanese text in my signature can be easily verified to not contain anything inappropriate to the forum, and I provided means to do so, this is at least fair, and is a consistent application of the rules, so I withdraw my first point.

The second and third parts of my rant deal with a post that another member made in one of the review forums. The post said, in part "Gay men don't need condoms. I'm sure that comes off as common sense." I believe this is a damaging statement to make. It isn't presented as a matter of opinion, but as a matter of scientific and medical fact. I'm not convinced the commenter wasn't trolling, but, even if he was, I think it's an important enough issue to correct the misinformation, lest someone take it seriously. I posted a response to it, which was soon deleted by mods as offtopic. In fact, several other members also posted responses, and the only comment that was allowed to remain was the original nonsense. I believe the mods failed in this regard, because they allowed a user to make potentially harmful comments, while, perhaps unintentionally, censoring all disagreement concerning it.

Since I thought it was an important enough issue, I started a separate thread in the Lounge (the general forum) to give people a place to discuss it and to provide links to scientific and medical information to help people to inform themselves about this topic, and in an otherwise on-topic post, I linked to this thread from the other, telling users that the offtopic discussion was being redirected there. Once again, censorship reared its ugly head. This time, it wasn't the mods, but rather other users. Two users posted comments on the thread stating, basically, that no one wanted to discuss it, and that it doesn't warrant its own thread. Now, let me ask you: how many times have you seen topics that you thought no one wanted to talk about, and didn't deserve their own threads? And did you ever, even once, think it was appropriate to respond to the thread only to say "this shouldn't be a thread"? No, of course not, unless the thread was off topic to the forum it was posted in. If you don't think a thread is worth discussing, then just don't f***ing post in it! Frankly, I don't care what you think of the topic I'm posting about, your opinion about it isn't the only one that matters, and your posts are themselved off topic to the thread. If I want to discuss it, let me, and if no one else does, let the thread die. This may have not been intentional, but I'm sure the fact that this topic was one that people tend to be more uncomfortable with, because it both deals with sex and with homosexuality, had something to do with these posters' reactions.

I feel that, in the time I've used this forum, my thoughts and expressions have been repeatedly censored, albeit with no conscious intention to censor them. Am I particularly unlucky in this regard, or is it just the culture of these forums to subconsciously censor unfamiliar points of view? I'm not saying anything inappropriate, harmul, or too mature for these forums, yet what I have to say is being suppressed. I would think, as writers, we would be much more open and willing to try to understand where others are coming from, but the experience I've had here so far has been much less inclusive than just about any other group I've ever associated with. Whether I decide to remain here or not depends on how free I feel to express myself in the near future. Please don't let me down, because, besides these points, I really do like it here, and I think these forums have a lot to offer.
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