Sense and Censorship

The threat of compulsory Government prescribed filters to access the internet here in Turkey seems to have mercifully receded. According to an article in the Turkish Daily News, the use of filters is now voluntary. The article states that during the three month trial period, 22,000 Turkish internet users (out of a total of 11.5 million) signed up to the service. Not exactly a sell-out tour.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, according to the Think Progress website, the Telecommunications Authority has banned users from texting 16,000 words that are considered offensive or obscene. The list of prohibited words (a mixture of Urdu and English) include:

lesbian, virgin, homosexual, condom, intercourse, breast, athlete’s foot, deposit, flogging the dolphin (?), black out, drunk, flatulence, glazed donut, harem, hostage, murder, penthouse, Satan, and wait for it, Jesus Christ.

This has got to be a hoax.

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24 thoughts on “Sense and Censorship

  1. How would anyone voluntarily sign up for censorship?? Weird. Thank God they’ve eased up on this a bit in Turkey, though. After all, it is supposed to be a progressive modern state… isn’t it? Pakistan remains almost in a league of their own in that respect though. Some time ago I blogged about a man who was charged with blasphemy because he threw away someone’s business card with his name – Mohammed – on it! Phew. I will check out that website. And do they want to pretend that homosexuality doesn’t exist in Pakistan? Poor things.


  2. Well you’d think it was a hoax wouldn’t you, but did you see the original banned word list the Turkish government came up with?

    This whole scheme was never thought through properly. I’m all for protecting children from the worst side of the internet, but some of the restrictions proposed were utterly ridiculous.


  3. I couldn’t understand why “homemade” was on the list of banned words the Turkish Government introduced, until i saw a banner at a Turkish conference on “El isleri” ( ie hand-made / home produced items) translated as “hand jobs”.


  4. Pakistan has backed off now with the government saying it was nothing to do with them!!!
    If people want to protect kids from the wicked world there are plenty of excellent and free apps that do the job which includes the best one which is never talked about in this context – responsible parental supervision.


  5. Excellent article. While some speech should be censored, like Republican hate speech calling for violence against the Muslim and LGBT communities, the less the better.


    1. Probably. It’s possible to make any word of phrase sound rude with intonation and context which is why bans like this are totally useless. Apparently, the Pakistani authorities are now back peddling frantically.


      1. Yes, this is the heart of the matter. The creative writers amongst us will always find a way to use metaphor and etymological trickery to get around it all, in a worst case scenario.


  6. Jack and others, I believe that any sort of censorhip leads one down the proverbial “slippery slope” to fascism and control through fear and intimidation.

    Any society that attempts to call itself free must start with freedom of speech, speech should not be censored, no matter how offensive. Once censorship starts, there is no stopping it.

    Several of you commented about Turkey and Pakistan and rightly so, and there are China, Iran and others. However, the land of Constitutionally protected speech, the United States of America, is attempting to out do Turkey and the others in a couple of different ways:
    “How Congress and the Entertainment Industry Plan to Kill the Internet and How Citizens, Reddit Users, and a Few Senators Are Fighting Back”
    “Two bills aim to lock down the internet with a host of new government censorship powers.”
    couple this with even more draconian “war on terrorism” laws and you have the makings of a police state:
    “The National Defense Authorization Act is the Greatest Threat to Civil Liberties Americans Face”
    “a law recently passed by the Senate which would place domestic terror investigations and interrogations into the hands of the military and which would open the door for trial-free, indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, so long as the government calls them terrorists.”

    Commander William Adama stated in the opening episode of Battlestar Galactica : “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”


    1. Hi Johnny

      I knew about the proposed censorship law in the States and the campaign against it. I didn’t know about the National Defense act. Sounds ominous. Ironic that the response to terrorism or the threat of terrorism undermines the very thing that terrorism often seeks to destroy – the freedoms we enjoy. The British tried to do this in Northern Ireland with internment (imprisonment without trial). It failed miserably, hardened attitudes and prolonged the Troubles. Completely stupid.


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