Thursday 26 February 2015

What constitutes "sexually explicit"?

Postscript: Feb 27/2015 below

March 23, 2015. That's the deadline set by Google to remove offending content or have one's blog marked as private, and therefore made inaccessible to the general public. At least Google is not deleting the blog, so an author can recover the content and move elsewhere.

In my posting "Google Blogger: Adult Content Policy" (Feb 24/2015), I compared this change to WordPress and Pinterest, both of which restrict such materials and pointed out how Tumblr, although owned by Yahoo, follows a policy of if you don't like some content, don't look at it. Yes, they are not going to censor the content you don't like, they are telling you to self-censor by not looking at said content. I also pointed out the contradiction of embedding the Fox News clip (Feb 3/2015) of the ISIS video of captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive and nobody would say anything about my blog. Sex must be censored for the public good, but if you can't stomach the violence, it is up to you to self-censor by turning the channel. Tumblr's approach is deemed common sense to everything except sex.

The Passionate Wife
This web site, "written by Tracey…an unapologetic sexual and sensual enthusiast, an advocate of pleasure and eroticism and of course, a very passionate wife", shows in its About the following:

“The Passionate Wife” is an erotic guide for couples interested in cultivating sexual desire, passion and peak sexual experiences in their marriage or long-term relationship.

While the content of the site, both written (articles and erotica) and images, is about sex and consequently sexually charged, the tone is classy, inspiring, and educational. It ain't porn. Well, I say porn per se, but it is pretty evident that one person's titillation is another person's scandalous slide into the salacious scum of sinful smut. The censor is altruistically trying to stop you from going to hell.

The Passionate Wife is on Pinterest, which is testimony I'm guessing that her content is deemed fit for public consumption by Pinterest: Content Policies.

Things that are inappropriate for the general public, like sexually explicit or pornographic Pins

I am guessing, however, that some puritan do-gooders, keepers of the flame, and protectors of the purity, have attempted to "shut her down". The opening page of The Passionate Wife shows the following pin on just about all the boards.

I do my best to take sexuality from crass to class...but it seems others do not see it as such and have reported me. -The Passionate Wife

I return to the policy of Tumblr: if you object to it, don't look at it. I see, though, that for some, it's not a question of not looking at the content, it's a question of the content even existing at all.

But what about the children?
Dunderhead me, I am missing the big picture, the most important part of this whole debate: the children, those tender souls being negatively influenced by a cultural tsunami of perversion.

A TV network censored a sequence of John Steinbeck's The Red Pony, which showed a mare giving birth, but broadcast the rather hideous sequence from The Godfather showing a beheaded horse. - Youth, Sex and the Media, CyberCollege: quoted in my blog: Censorship: Kill me but no sex please - Oct 29/2010

Norman Herr, Professor of Science Education at the California State University states using data from A. C. Neilson:
The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school. By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders. -quoted in my blog: Censorship: Kill me but no sex please - Oct 29/2010

If you're like me, this is where you say, "What???"

pandodaily - Feb 24/2015
Silicon Valley’s War on Sex continues as Google bans adult blogs By David Holmes
Last summer, Google, under pressure by the “family values” group Morality in Media, banned “ads that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts. ... Now, Google is taking its anti-sex stance even further by banning public blogs hosted on its Blogger platform that feature “sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video.””

Wikipedia: Morality in Media
Morality in Media, Inc. (MIM) is an American, non-profit organization that was established in New York in 1962. MIM seeks to raise awareness about what they regard as the harms of pornography and other forms of obscenity to individuals, families and society. MIM also works through constitutional means to curb traffic in material they consider obscene and uphold what they view as Judeo-Christian standards of decency in media.

Final Word
Google's mission statement from the outset was "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," and its unofficial slogan was "Don't be evil." (Wikipedia) Has something changed? When you are one of the largest tech companies, and some would argue one of the most influential, what you do is felt far and wide. If I think your stuff is lewd, I am only one person. But if Google thinks your stuff is lewd, see you on March 23. Actually, I won't see you on March 23.

In Google's original email, they wrote:

We'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity presented in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts, or where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content.

Does that include me? Does that include sex bloggers who are, arguably educational? Does that include authors of erotica? Does that include erotic images? I'm not proposing going at it hot and heavy, but where's the line between (entertainingly) suggestive and well, that's not leaving much to the imagination? And who decides that question?

The 1958 French Film The Lovers, directed by Louis Malle currently enjoys a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, this is a work of art.

Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) narrowed the scope of the Roth decision. Justice Potter Stewart, in his concurrence to the majority opinion, created the standard whereby all speech is protected except for "hard-core pornography". As for what, exactly, constitutes hard-core pornography, Stewart said "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." The film in question was Louis Malle's The Lovers. (Wikipedia: I know it when I see it)

See you all on March 23. Or not.

Postscript: February 27, 2015 at 2am

my blog: Google Blogger Reverses its Ban on Sexually Explicit Materials - Feb 28/2015

As of 2am, February 27, 2015, Google announced a reversal of its previous policy announcement. The tech giant will not censor any blogs.

This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn. Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as “adult” so that they can be placed behind an “adult content” warning page. Bloggers whose content is consistent with this and other policies do not need to make any changes to their blogs.


my blog: Google Blogger: Adult Content Policy - Feb 24/2015
On February 23, 2015, I received "the email".

National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), formerly Morality in Media (MIM)
About Us: Founded in 1962, National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), formerly Morality in Media (MIM), is the leading national organization dedicated to opposing pornography by highlighting the links to sex trafficking, violence against women, child abuse, and addiction.

Our Mission: Defending human dignity. Confronting sexual exploitation.

Our Vision: All individuals have a right to be free from the effects of pornography and all other forms of sexual exploitation.

NCSE: #FiftyShadesIsAbuse
The Fifty Shades of Grey book series and franchise promote torture as sexually gratifying and normalize domestic violence, particularly violence against women. This type of material cultivates a rape and sexual violence culture and is now permeating our society.

my blog: Erotica vs. Pornography: What's the difference? - Jun 26/2013
Erotica vs. pornography. Good vs. bad. Desirable vs. vile. A welcome part of the human experience vs. all that is perverted in the world. ...The other day, somebody made a curious remark which made me stop and think. "I'm not big on porn, but I'm a big fan of erotic photography & art." What struck me as so odd about the above statement was that the person in question, a woman, is the author of erotic fiction. It was almost as if she had said, "I'm not big on sex (porn), but I'm a big fan of sex (erotica)." Maybe all roads don't lead to Rome.


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