Irrational censorship

Censorship is often arbitrary, even ridiculous. Instead of not watching the show, ignoring what was said, or arguing using logic and facts, many people seek to silence whatever did not fit inside their bubble. There will always be people who will try to ruin entertainment for everyone else or stifle discussions because they feel offended, or think someone else may be offended.

I wrote a little bit about this in my blog post "Freedom vs. feelings" (March 16, 2014): To criticize ideas, like religions, is seen as offensive, and people are often judged based on if they use certain words rather than the meaning of what they say; context is seldom considered. Basically, people feel bad and fight to make sure we cannot have opinions that differ or enjoy something they do not. If you cannot say anything nice about Jesus, go to hell.

The world has not become a complete dystopian hellhole yet, but it seems to be on its way. Comedy can still make fun of some topics, but not others. We can discuss certain topics, but not others. Criticism is thrown around like feces in a zoo, especially now when social media makes it so easy to be outraged publically. Satirical jokes are criticized for the words that are used, the stereotype that is brought up, or the person who makes the joke, not the actual content or political commentary of the joke; comedians, with a leftist angle, often satirize societal problems like racism, but in doing so are accused of racism themselves. There is no nuance to a lot of the outrage found on the Internet.

(One can argue that even bad people like Nazis and other bigots deserve the right to speak their minds, although that opinion is hard to justify, I will admit; the main argument in favor, I would say, is that it is difficult to objectively decide what is good and what is bad to say, and ceasing the free flow of ideas may in the end allow merely one opinion to be held: progress will be stifled and our society essentially becomes authoritarian. This is just speculation, though.)

Profanity, sex, blasphemy, etcetera are commonly regarded as offensive by many people. Firstly, profanity: curse words describe bad feelings, but there is nothing that makes these specific words worse than others, as the same feelings can be described using less controversial words, as well; our fear of "bad words" is quite irrational. Secondly, sex: sex is a natural part of life, and yet it is something we fear more than death, it seems. Sex has become dehumanized, as if it is not part of our nature.

Lastly, blasphemy and also more personal topics: here, hypocrisy rules. People are generally okay if whatever is being made fun of, satirized, or criticized is something they do not hold dear, something which does not define them; however, when, for example, their religion ends up being satirized, they take offense, even after laughing at another religious group. Some even go as far as to threaten with violence, because they were exposed to ideas with which they did not agree. At this point in history, this kind of violence comes mostly from Islam (although certainly also Christians and right-wing hate groups), and it must be fought, for example like this:

There. Bomb me, you motherfuckers!

Not everything is in good humor, of course. Plenty of what we see and read is critical of many people's worldview. However, it is okay to make fun of and criticize worldviews, like religions, because they are human constructs, not peoples. I wrote in "Freedom vs. feelings" (March 16, 2014):

We should accept that people believe differently and should try to respect each other, but we do not have to like or respect the belief itself. Respect does not mean one cannot have an opinion about others' beliefs, even if that opinion is offensive to those who have the belief. (Freedom vs. feelings, March 16, 2014)

Sometimes, people read way too much into stories, though. I watched The Silence of the Lambs a few nights ago, and I like to read a little about what I see. On the Wikipedia page for the film, I read about a feminist who stated in a PLAYBOY interview that she was not as offended by the magazine as she was by the fact that the film had an antagonist who skinned women. It was a while ago, but people still get upset over stupid things like this today (I would like to point out that I am in no way arguing against feminism here, though). The Wikipedia page says this:

In a 1992 interview with Playboy magazine, notable feminist and women's rights advocate Betty Friedan stated, "I thought it was absolutely outrageous that The Silence of the Lambs won four [sic] Oscars. [...] I'm not saying that the movie shouldn't have been shown. I'm not denying the movie was an artistic triumph, but it was about the evisceration, the skinning alive of women. That is what I find offensive. Not the Playboy centerfold." (Wikipedia, retrieved March 23, 2014)

It seems, according to her, that mass-murdering psychopaths must be politically correct. And any story involving horrible things like death must always be equally horrible to all groups of people, even if a good and even socially critical story can be based on gender, race, etcetera. Fictional stories can also paint a picture of what reality is like, and reality is not politically correct because we want it to be; murderers do murder based on things like gender, so a story about such a killer is not inconceivable or bad. People do not seem to know what sexism and racism are, so instead they choose to be insulted by anything and everything. (With that said, a lot of what conservatives blame on "political correctness" actually is about real bigotry, like their xenophobia or misogyny.)

Another scenario one may read too much into is who dies first. It became sort of a cliché that the black guy dies first, but if the black guy never dies first only for being black, that becomes equally clichéd. What I am saying is, we should neither kill off nor not kill off certain ethnicities first as a rule. Let's treat characters as we should each other: individuals, not just black or white.

Most entertainment products either have an age warning or a certain feel to them that says, "Not suitable for young audiences." So it annoys me when people try to ban a show, book, or game because it may "hurt their children." It is the parents' responsibility to regulate what their children watch, read, and play; it is not the responsibility of creative people to mind the effing children or anyone else's petty concerns. Of course, some shows that are controversial in some way, like South Park, Family Guy, and The Simpsons, usually have good sentiments, but use satire and sarcasm to drive that point; they are not politically correct, but as long as one understands the concepts of satire and sarcasm, one can watch shows like those and will likely come out as better people. That is why critical and logical thinking are important skills to teach, not one set of rules or a system that lets one avoid other opinions.

Religion is a human construct, so we should be able to pull it apart, examine it, make fun of it, and then throw it in the garbage.

Lastly, I would like to go back to blasphemy, and its supposed offense. Religion is a human construct, so we should be able to pull it apart, examine it, make fun of it, and then throw it in the garbage. I don't see how anyone can justify the worship of a deity that would not let their subjects question them in any way. It does not matter how powerful a leader is: dictatorship is always bad. The amazing thing is that many conservative and Christian Americans go on and on about their freedom (and how it is threatened by "fags" and atheists), but they also say we must obey the almighty dictator without question.

Quite frankly, if there were a deity, I do not think they would be so uptight as to condemn a show for naughty language or questioning baseless "facts" like their own existence. I would go as far as to say that God would probably enjoy watching The Simpsons, if only so he could sigh and say, "At least someone gets it."