Original article was published by JPW on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Mary Whitehouse has been reborn in robotic form. She’s protecting Google users today, full of effortless virtue.
The censor has returned, upgraded, pre-programmed with light-speed, blanket gagging efficiency.
Today, I made a hard-line joke in YouTube’s comments section about little green men in response to someone interrupting a dialogue between myself and another to say that the term ‘Alien race’ might be offensive to some and should be avoided. We were joking about UFO’s.
I responded with a right-wing parody on the popular fiction of a ‘Grey’ Alien:
“Funny, I didn’t realise we were talking about race, I thought we were talking about those green-skinned, cock-less, slanty-eyed immigrants from outer-space.”
But, of course, YouTube’s new-born Mary Whitehouse algorithm can’t abide swearing in the comment section, right?
Not exactly. Mary has quite a complex code for defining offense, if you try her… As I did.
Mary doesn’t mind: ‘cock’
She’ll not let ‘cock-less’ pass.
She won’t tolerate: ‘pussy’.
She’s fine with: ‘piece of shit’
She’s o.k. with: ‘yellow skinned immigrants’
She will not take: ‘dumb polish immigrants’
She’s fine with: ‘slanty eyed’
I tried: ‘Slanty eyed immigrants’.
She was not impressed.
I told her: “I don’t agree with the phrase: ‘slanty eyed immigrants.’”
…But it was not good enough for Mary.
I could avoid it no longer, I wrote: “I find the phrase: ‘slanty eyed immigrants’ offensive.”
This, Mary will allow, of course.
What IS offensive exactly?
Just ask Mary. Go speak with her on YouTube, you’ll see. Copy and paste the above phrase into the comment section. Refresh the page once or twice and… she’ll decide if you’re being offensive. No ban, no note, just gone.
Mary doesn’t need to explain why.
Rest assured, Mary the virtuous robot will keep us safe and secure from the nasty people who call little green men from outer space ‘slanty-eyed immigrants’ — joking or fair criticism NOT aside. Mary is unshakable, undebatable… unresolved… un-elected…
Now Mary’s made it big, she’s moved far beyond the BBC, Mary’s censoring the world’s biggest platform for independent publishing now. Your intention is irrelevant, meaning too, Mary’s offensive words are simply a no-go.
As an artist particularly but also as a believer in dialogue, tolerance and non-violence, as a free and (hopefully) progressive thinker and as a lover of comedy i.e. Life of Brian, Bill Hicks and, back in the 90’s, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, No, the censor is my mortal enemy.
Anyone who values these things in life (and Frank Zappa) should question the push toward censorship and the compulsion of speech it forces. The censors are back out of the fringe and moving up on us, fast. Few dare challenge them this time around, they’re armed to the teeth with disgust.
This is precisely the environment that gets the progressively minded in BIG trouble — check the Amnesty International website if there’s any doubt on that point.
No, we’re bound up tight enough already with Corona virus, we don’t need restrictions on speech adding to the list of society’s woes.
This tide is very real and it is inherently anti-free expression. On the net, on our Streets, it’s being passed into law. There is no grey area, freedom of speech is a keystone of progressive society; we must be free to speak our minds, to offend those we choose to challenge in debate — the contrary position is, by default, an attempt to oppress and subdue by tyrannical dictate.
Tagging meanings onto words that have no integral meaning without context is, simply, absurd. Offensive discrimination is bourn in deeds, bound into family and culture, the myriad life experiences of individuals; in a lack of understanding, in seclusion, pains and resentment, jealousy and pride…
A conflict cannot be resolved by silencing the opposition. The virtue of the censors is a veil, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, they are oppressors and jailers of poets, painters, performers, musicians, philosophers, star gazers, spirituals; they are be-headers of clowns… hell, they even tried to silence Chaplin — his films were silent!
No, the dictate of wannabe censors should be treated with contempt for where words are censored we have no chance of understanding one another.
JPW 18th October 2020.