Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Important Notice: the blocking of this site..."

The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. - historian and author Henry Steele Commager

One thing you quickly get used to in this part of the world is censorship: timid newspapers, fawning television, and, most annoyingly for me, Internet filtering that ranges from the predictable - no playboy.com for you! - to infuriating.

Someone, for example, decided at some point that local audiences were unprepared for 24/7 coverage of the unraveling of Britney Spears and the doings of the Hilton sisters, meaning that tmz.com was out of commission for several months (and no, I'm not proud that I know that).

Whole swathes of Wikipedia are currently off limits, with predictably scattershot results: one is forbidden from finding out details of the redemption (let alone the more savory attributes) of Harry Reems, but Traci Lords is, so to speak, at your fingertips. You can learn about the general topic "gay pornography," but the career of auteur Kristen Bjorn is beyond the pale (Joe Gage, however - learn away, locals!)

Within countries in the region, there are, to be fair, varying levels. The UAE has for some reason decided that Secretdubai is too, I suppose, sarcastic for tender local tastes, while it seems that it's fine for us here down in the Sultanate to laugh at them. By contrast, our own nannies seem to have a thing against campy blogs (ought I worry?). Omgblog, WOW, and more seem to offend delicate sensibilities in these parts - but at least the curtain recently rose again on Towleroad and Queerty.

Let's let the immortal Mr. Fellini have the last word: "Censorship is advertising paid by the government."

Update 5/21: AUGH! And now they've just today gone and blocked Jezebel! And with the Sex and the City movie this close to opening - what am I supposed to do! Thank God for proxies, as maddening and slow as they can be...

1 comment:

  1. My dear, how annoying it must be, but at least if I had to pick between Harry Reems and Joe Gage, you just KNOW I'd have to go with Joe.