It’s a funny thing about censorship. Ignore something you find distasteful, and the rest of the world probably will too. But turn around and ban something on Wikipedia, and you can be sure the world will sit up and take notice.
So all you idiots at the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation who thought you were doing the world a favour by getting UK internet service providers to block access to a photo that’s been around for 32 years, will you please censor this post? You’ll have to ban access to wordpress.com, too, I suppose, but if that’s what it takes to make sure people can’t make up their minds for themselves what they can or cannot see, then so be it.
Of course, I have to provide something you twits think is worth censoring, so here it is: a link to a photo on an album cover that was released in 1976 and which you saw fit to censor from Wikipedia.
Guys, I hate the exploitation of children as much as any sane individual. I hate the idea there are children out there right now as you read this who are having their photo taken – or much worse – by people who don’t give a shit about them, who see them as a commodity to be exploited until they’re no longer of any use, tossed aside until the next crop comes in.
What the hell, there are plenty of street kids out there, the supply is limitless. Judging by the number of weird searches that for some reason turn up this blog, so is the demand.
And I realise, too, that there are laws against child pornography, its consumption and distribution, two things the Internet renders practically effortless. And that there are even newspapers out there – Europe’s top-selling Bild Zeitung for example – who sometimes don’t really look too closely at the age of the naked girls they stick on their front pages.
I also find the album cover distasteful.
But by choosing to tell 95% of UK internet users they can’t have access to even one page on one of the Internet’s most active websites, you’ve now called much more attention to that photograph than it ever would have received had you just ignored it.
As this article at The Register points out, the page in question is now among the most popular on the English-language version of Wikipedia.
But thanks, anyway. Growing up in a culturally and economically deprived Canadian backwater in the 1970s, I somehow missed out on it the first time around. Then again, I wasn’t a fan of sleazy German heavy metal either, so perhaps I just skipped over them on a rare trip to a Vancouver record store.
In fact, by 1976 the only chance I’d ever had to even glimpse anything close to what’s on that album cover was the time my friend Mark and I snuck under the floorboards of the girls’ changing room at the town swimming pool one summer afternoon to ascertain whether our schoolmate Lisa McC. was growing roots or not.
Oh, and I’m sure the Scorpions thank you too. Though the cover’s been changed, that same album is available at amazon.com on CD. They’ll appreciate the extra royalties.
Update: The Internet Watch Foundation has now – five days later – decided to lift their ban:
The procedure is now complete and has confirmed that the image in question is potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978. However, the IWF Board has today (9 December 2008) considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case and, in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove this webpage from our list.