Wednesday, July 14, 2004

the "this is not censorship" meme

I've seen some commenters on other blogs (as well as on Blinger's board) attempt to put forth the "this is not censorship" meme. They're not trying to defend the MIC's actions (although it's still vague as to whether the MIC's behind this, I'm presuming the MIC's guilty for a number of reasons), but they are, perhaps, inadvertently sanitizing something very dirty.

So: if it smells like semantic wordplay, go to the dictionary for some clarity.

Here's what the online Webster has to say:

Main Entry: [2]censor
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): censored; censoring /'sen(t)-s&-ri[ng], 'sen(t)s-ri[ng]/
: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable

The nominal form of the verb is also censor. The relevant definition:

2 : one who supervises conduct and morals: as (a) : an official who examines materials (as publications or films) for objectionable matter (b) : an official (as in time of war) who reads communications (as letters) and deletes material considered sensitive or harmful

I hope this clears things up for the "this is not censorship" crowd. Whether one views the blog blockage as the "collateral damage" of a larger, flailing attempt at stamping out distribution of the Kim video, or as something intentional and targeted, it's censorship. All the blogs in several particular domains have been censored because the domains were adjudged to contain "material considered sensitive or harmful." That's massive, indiscriminate, intentional censorship in my book. Is it also a sign of incompetence? Hell, yes! On several levels!

One other remark: one person asks whether anyone has even bothered to contact the MIC. Are you blind? We've slapped the MIC's (and other parties') Web addresses up on our blogs for days, maybe weeks at this point. It's my hope that people have been trying to contact the MIC, in Korean and in English.

Not only that, but I and others have been in touch with journalists who are doing their own investigations of the MIC. The result so far? Mixed messages emanating from the edifice. This is cause for suspicion: the folks at the MIC are not all on the same page. Where's the accountability? Where are the names of the officials making their claims? If they're asking for anonymity, why are they asking for it? Yes, this smacks of PRC-style tactics. South Korea hasn't come that far from its dictatorial past, and some of us seem to have forgotten that. I hope Richard of Peking Duck and Conrad of Gweilo Diaries join Blinger's boards and give us the low-down on how censorship works in the PRC, with special reference to The Bureaucratic Dodge ("Who, us? You sure it's not someone else?") and The Semantic Cleanup ("It's not censorship! It's for the public good! How can that be repressive?") techniques.

Here are some more MIC contacts:

Minister Dae-je Chin:
Vice Minister Chang-kon Kim:
Deputy Director Ki-young Kim:
[Plenty of others available; I find the Deputy Director's email address to be quite Orwellian.]

English-language message board where you can vent to the MIC:

I found the above by going through the MIC site's Q&A section.

The MIC's website is found at There are also plenty of phone numbers to go around. Take your pick if your Korean's good enough, and give these dolts an earful.

Again, don't listen to the pinky-twiddlers who assume that the civilized approach is the only approach. Bullshit. It's not. It's one of several, and they're all effective, each in their own ways, so feel free to experiment. Play to your strengths and don't be narrow-minded about alternatives. Whatever you do, don't just sit around quietly with that goddamn "어쩔 수 없다" (eo-jjeol-su-eop-da; "it can't be helped") mentality I can't stand.


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