Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

vendredi 16 février 2007

Profanity in DeafBlogLand

This is something that seems to be increasing exponentially, and the first instance I recall appeared in January! So we're talking a month, a month and a half ago. I'm growing concerned. For the record, I have no issue with profanity at all. I enjoy using it at appropriate times and marvel at how creative we can be in any language (the French are mighty creative and colorful in their vulgarity!). I believe that in order to master a language wholly one should be able to swear in the language, even if one chooses never to do so for personal or religious reasons.
But I digress...

Aidan Mack posted an open letter to the DeafRead.com editors here regarding the issue of profanity. It raises some interesting points.

One of the major "red flags" this poses for me is the issue of censorship. Censorship is a slippery slope, and once we start down that hill, there is every risk of snowballing and censoring unnecessarily. (Banning Huck Finn from school libraries, anyone?) I do *not* recommend that DeafRead, nor any other editor begin censoring entries.

My comment is copied and pasted here in its entirety. Thoughts? Comments? Please feel free to respond, members of the Teeming Millions - we need to mull this over and talk about this topic.

I agree with you both, Aidan and IamMine. I, too, work with students, and I'm now concerned about recommending DeafRead to them because of the profanity in what seems like an ever-growing number of entries.

However, there is the issue of freedom of speech/expression, and censorship isn't the way to go.

I personally have no issue with profanity and have been known to use it in my personal life. However, I'm mindful of who is around when I use it, and I never ever use it with people in grades 12 or below or younger than 18... And I refuse to use it in the blog I maintain that's
syndicated by DeafRead, because I want it to be appropriate for all interested parties, which include students and those who do not appreciate profanity. Those who choose to use it on the Internet are definitely well within their rights to do so and they are availing themselves of a wonderful part of the English language (in my opinion), but they run the risk that their entries become inappropriate for a segment of their potential audience. This means their thoughts are not reaching all of their intended audience.

As for what DeafRead can do... I think the idea of sections is intriguing. However, it would be a lot of work for both the editors and readers. As a reader, I'd far prefer to keep the current format with everything on the front page. I think we run the risk of missing entries just because we wouldn't click on every single section. I vote to leave it as is. But maybe they could code the ones with profanity somehow, maybe with a red flag? ;) That would warn parents and other interested parties.

I believe the responsibility ultimately lies with all of us in DeafBlogLand. We bloggers/vloggers need to be mindful of how we present ourselves to our audience, and if we choose to use profanity, it should be a conscious decision, made with the awareness that we are closing ourselves off from part of our potential audience. But we *should* all strive for respectful and open-dialogue entries. We commenters should keep the same things in mind when we comment on entries. Bloggers/vloggers CAN control comments, though - and SHOULD when comments are disrespectful or attack people/groups, in my opinion. In
WordPress, one can remove ANY comment, with or without moderation. Blogger requires moderation, though. People with Blogger accounts can moderate comments and refuse to allow disrespectful comments to be published. Again, we, as individuals, all bear the responsibility. I don't think dumping it on DeafRead is the way to go, but they should be aware that there are concerns.

Thanks, Aidan, for raising this issue!

***Notes: I wrote this last Thursday (I think) and attempted to post this via email, but Blogger wouldn't post it simply because they were forcing everybody to upgrade to the new version, and I didn't have a chance to deal with it till now. Grr. Second note - the info about Blogger above is now inaccurate. Blogger will allow the blog owner to delete *any* comment with, or without, moderation.


  • At 19:08, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    According to what I've read, limiting profanity in the Deaf blogosphere does not constitute censorship. Censorship is usually a tool of an authoritarian agency such as a government to limit a society or individual's access to information. It isn't specific to profanity, although that can be a part of it, such as in music and media. On the other hand, there are laws designed to shield underage citizens from profanity when there is a reasonable risk that they may be in the audience. What constitutes profanity is culture-specific, though. I've seen it happen that Deaf dinner guests tell dirty jokes at a formal dinner and think it's fine, while the hearing guests cringed. Anyway, in a public setting, it's best to err on the side of caution and keep your words G-rated when possible.

  • At 19:42, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    All schools for the deaf have banned access to Ridorlive due to excessive profanity and sexual references - mostly on Ridor's part in his headline entries.

    Dorm students can't read the site. The school where I work, the adminstration sent home notices about Ridorlive advising them of the adult "M-rated" nature of the site. They also made similiar comments about MySpace.com.

    Who will be next? Schools for the deaf are keeping track of the blogs. If Deafread does not moderate profanity, it may very well be the next to be banned from schools for the deaf internet access.

    I agree - censorship is a slippery slope but then we can compose without resorting to vulgarity. Like you said, vulgarity has its time and place and blogs is not it due to high readership and such diversity in readers.

  • At 03:41, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    Swearing is the last refuge of those who have lost the debate. It is also the preferred tool of the spoiler, who forces moderation on us.

    They exploit freedom of speech and in return deprive us of it. The thin line is personal offence..... where disagreeing with someone even without swearing or personal abuse is enough to see moderation used to kill a view.

    During the Gally protest we saw this moderation' used to promote a viewpoint, and bury opposing viewpoints, this is REAL abuse of free speech.

  • At 09:21, Anonymous m said…

    ALL deaf schools have banned access to Ridor's site? Including the high school students? That's the most rediculous thing I've heard of, and I think it's another of infantising the deaf. Anyone who watches prime time tv is exposed to worse than anything we've read in Ridor's blog. Any kid (or adult) who plays World or Warcraft online or reads their forums sees MUCH worse routinely.

    Sexuality and even obcenities are a part of the world we live in, and to think that deaf high school students are somehow supposed to not know about those things is nothing short of oppression.

  • At 13:36, Blogger Jared Evans said…

    I would like to bring to your attention that DeafRead itself doesn't contain any profanity. We only show the first 60 words of a blog. It is the blogs themselves that may have profanity.

    Instead of a blanket censorship of DeafRead.com itself, the system administrators at the Deaf Schools can set it so that if a page shows up with a word that matches something on the profanity list, this page would not be shown.

    This would continue to give the school children access to all the clean blog posts of DeafRead.com while ignoring the others that may not be suitable.

  • At 09:21, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    It's a moot point we don't know the age of all the subscribers to deaf.read. If you are to encourage younger deaf people to take an interest in the deaf blogospheres,then we have to be mindful of the language,or, state over a certain age only. Sexuality isn't the issue it's the language you use to describe it. We are all broadminded, are we ? not if responses and individuals moderations are to be taken into account.

  • At 17:52, Anonymous The One and Only Ridor said…

    "Anonymous 7:42 PM" -- All schools for the deaf has banned RidorLIVE.com? Not true.

    Stop making up the stories. I can read the hits from my account that verified the hits FROM deaf schools all across the nation.

    Put up the evidence or shut up.



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