Friday, 7 December 2007

Deleted by moderator

Let me apologise right off the bat for the blessayishness of this post.

I have had a comment deleted from a CiF message board. Hooray for me. I think it must mean you get a few extra points on your Qdos score. But maybe you have to be banned to really make it, or even have to pick another Gmail address and register as someone else? Anyway, apart from feeling quite excited about it, I am also more than a little fucked off.

Here's the deal. I have posted on here before about the general issue of censorship on CiF, and how I feel about it, but it was interesting for me to experience - personally - being censored. Said comment was in response to a piece of garbage about sex education penned by Anne Atkins. Her argument in the piece (such as it is) goes something like this:

'There's too much sex education, and that's why there are so many unwanted pregnancies. There may be a decline in sexually transmitted diseases, but this has been bought at the expense of a serious lapse in the moral fabric of the family and society. If we wish to address these issues, we should aim to teach teenagers about the value of abstaining from sex outside marriage, be more like the US in that regard, and move away from the poisonous liberalism of sex education in such moral cesspools as Holland, for example.'

I paraphrase, but feel free to read the original article if you feel like winding yourself up. I think I've precised it reasonably well.

Now, to quote from a review of the Creationist Museum, recently posted by John Scalzi:

"Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horseshit..."

There is no need to imagine. First of all, there is not too much sex education (whatever the hell that would be in any case) in our schools. As Polly Toynbee (of whom I am no fan either, don't get me wrong) pointed out in an earlier article, sex education is actually in decline in our schools, partly - though not entirely - as a result of faith schools opting out. Secondly, the incidence of STDs is on the increase, and even syphilis is making an extremely unwelcome return. Third, the policy of encouraging abstinence from sex is an unmitigated failure when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies, as figures comparing the rates for it in the USA and other countries illustrate. One caveat, prompted by a look at Wikipedia on the matter, is that definitions of teenage pregnancy differ in the US and the UK, and that the whole issue is a socio-political one as much as it is simply about biology. My own position is (as in so many areas) that education holds the key. Real education, not some pointless homilies about being a good Christian.
Updated (7/12/07) Research shows that US policy on abstinence as a means of contraception is an abject failure.

So. Horseshit:

"An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center..."

But there's no need to go into all that. If you have ever read a CiF piece, you will know that every point of view gets aired eventually, as long as there's sufficient mileage in the original article. Every point of view that is, except for those which are edited or deleted by the moderators, as mine was. Did I mention that?

I know of Anne Atkins, sad to say. I came across her (work, fnarr fnarr) whilst flicking through Metafilter one day. You may not believe what I write, so please do click on the links to substantiate the facts. Basically, some time ago, AA created a fake teenage girl cyber personality ('Cheshakitten' - actually quite a good name, isn't it?) on Bebo in order to lure her own teenage son Ben into what he would believe to be a romantic tryst. Her intention was to see what (implied negative) effect social networking sites were having on the youth of today. An interesting project perhaps, but what a sick way of conducting the experiment, I'm sure you'll agree. At the very least, I thought, revealing this would undermine her self-appointed position as arbiter of morality on this relatively complex issue, and I was minded to point it out to the CiF community. I posted the link to the story, along with my comment and a further link to the Metafilter thread which discussed it. The comment (I'm sorry I didn't keep a copy, and have now started to do so) went like this:

"Attention! This woman is dangerous. She pretended to be a teenage girl on Bebo to try and trap her own (also teenage) son into a romantic liaison. She has no right to pass as a moral arbiter on teenage sex."

One of the things which I enjoy about online forums (fora?) is the interaction with others, so I checked back this morning to see if my post had encouraged any debate on the issue, and there it was. Or rather wasn't. My user name on the left and 'comment deleted by moderator' on the right. I wondered why. Maybe the words 'this woman is dangerous' had caused the removal? As far as I could remember, there was nothing defamatory or personal in what I had said. It was not insulting or off-topic. I felt a sense of righteous anger that someone had decided that what I had written was unacceptable, according to some standard of which I could not be aware, and emailed the Comment Is Free people to express my feelings.

At the same time, I slightly rephrased what I originally said and then re-posted. So far, it has stayed on, and has even elicited a response or two. I hope it stays that way.

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