Friday, June 4, 2010

WEEK IN REVIEW: Censorship and Shanghai

The most important tournament of the year looms. This is Shanghai:


...and this is what we've been chatting about this week:

So many to choose from! So instead of choosing, I'm just going to repost all replies to the discussion titled "censorship is wrong, in my opinion":

Doc, June 1, 11:17 am:

for those of you who don't know, joe, perhaps with the backing of a small group of people (i'm not clear on the details), has taken to censoring the google group. he started doing this a couple years ago, and it has really escalated over the last few weeks.

i am firmly against censorship, especially arbitrary censorship. as far as i know, the only definitive clear cut rule for the group is no cursing. even that is open to interpretation, because different people have different standards for what constitutes cursing. some people would could
consider damn a swear word. others might say even bafflegab is a swear word, because of what it stands in for. so what it comes down to, is that joe is arbitrarily deciding what is okay for the group and what is not okay.


the google group was originally created specifically because before we had only a yahoo group, and one person controlled what was allowed to be posted to it, and no one had a free voice. very literally, the google group was an end around to avoid such censorship. so i am understandably saddened that we have returned to censorship yet again.

personally, i think anyone should be allowed to post anything they want, as long as it doesn't violate chinese law (ie no pornography and nothing that speaks out against the government). if someone posts something that a majority of others think is in poor taste, the group will react to it, and in most cases the person in question will probably adjust their future postings. but if they don't, that says a lot more about the individual than it does about the group. but if we allow arbitrary censorship, that's saying a lot about what kind of community this is.

if there is going to be censorship, it should not be controlled by one person or a small group of people. first, it should be voted on by the group that we want censorship. and then the specific guidelines need to be voted on. and then, the person that will be in charge of upholding those guidelines should be voted on. even then, i would be firmly against it. but at least then you have a somewhat less arbitrary form of censorship.

for those who don't know what is at issue, the last straw, as they say, came this last week when someone writing as betsy (not me) referred to a joke that was told on the bus about 'coons. i was not on the bus. i don't know what the joke was, and whether it was meant to be racist. maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. but when the person wrote about it in the email, he/she had no idea there were any racial undertones. it was just a reference to an animal, in this person's mind. it only became a racist comment when other people interpreted it that way. should it be something that results in banning? should it be taken off of the group? i guess different people would have different opinions. i think people should post freely, no censorship. freedom. but again, if it is something that should be banned, it should be because it violates clearly defined guidelines that the group has agreed to as a whole.

anyway, i think it's a sad day when censorship wins out over freedom of expression, no matter what the venue.


Maggie Rauch, June 1, 11:27 am:

All I know is I'm heading to trivia night tonight, and I hope that whoever didn't know that coon was a racial slur is there and not on my team.

Chris Boehner:

Hmmmm, I thought it was in reference to Maine Coons, coincidentally my favorite type of cat.


"if someone posts something that a majority of others think is in poor taste, the group will react to it"

How will they react to it? By writing long e-mails taking a stance? Or people will stop coming to our practices and pick-up. Or perhaps they will leave the google group, which in addition to extraneous information contains times and locations of practices, pick-up, and tournaments. I would be totally down for a trash talking, whatever you want group and one that posts information. I don't want people to get scared off by e-mails coming from you, perhaps with the backing of a small group of people (I'm not clear on the details), that writes crazy, funny, obnoxious e-mails that may not represent the community and have really have escalated over the past few weeks. I definitely love Betsy and am not for censorship, I think we just may have to separate things into an informational group and another one. I'm sure there is a way to do this.


Hi all,

There are a few things that should be clarified. This is both regarding content of this google group and the recent censorship issues that Doc is bringing up.

First, I have never acted individually in the decisions to remove content from the group. I have always discussed and conferred with leaders of both the Beijing ultimate community and BUC. This has included Jeff, Gareth, Kevin, and even Doc.

Furthermore, these decisions have NEVER been arbitrarily decided. There has never been content we removed because we didn't like the poster, or because we thought it would be fun to delete a post. We have removed content that we feel others would have found or interpreted as offensive, hateful, and not in the spirit of our community or in line with our goal of making this an open and accepting community.

I also take issue with Doc's point that posts reflect individuals, and that people will judge the individuals and in turn later posts will reflect this. These recent incidents have all involved Betsy, a pseudonym who is often seen as this community's ambassador on this forum. How can posts speak to who the individual is, if there is a veil over who is in fact posting? I'm not arguing that having this character on this group is a bad thing, but if this person is truly supposed to reflect on us as a group, shouldn't we hold it to a higher standard? There are many times that I have found Betsy full of humor, and without hatred. There has, as of late, been an influx of mean, offensive and downright hateful content.

Regardless of who is posting, I encourage people to use self-control when they leave their digital fingerprint on this forum. It reflects on all of us, as a community. This community serves not only those who are already in this group, but those who we are hoping to encourage to join this group.

Gareth makes a good point that has been talked about before. If people feel the need for a "gossip blog," by all means start one up.

iRobb (not really sure who this is):

Just random trivia. Although a "Coon" is indeed a racial slur in most circles, it is also the self-proclaimed term for Roughnecks from the bayou regions of Louisiana who descend from Arcadian ancestry, commonly known today as "Cajuns". This group of Caucasian oil derek workers make up some of those who lost their lives in the oil darek fire, and now oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that is currently headline news.

This term represents a specific group of well-educated industry specialists in the oil industry and when used in oil circles, it has a direct denotation with impervious, neutral conotation. Except of course when it's mistaken within these circles for a racial slur. I believe the full title is "Coon-ass" and I'm pretty sure it stems from a French word that ties nicely into English with obvious merit for it's association with racoons which are abundant in the bayous of Louisiana.

Outside of Exxonmobile though, I think the term is dead except for parts of the Georgia and South Carolina or by people who may not fully understand the implications of how a term like this can effect certain groups who are directly or indirectly associated with the relevant historic and cultural issues. These people tend to stay out of international frisbee leagues as it is the very xenophobia of racism that keeps them too close to home sometimes.

Many of the indiginous groups who use the other version of this term and synonyms of it also practice crude forms of inter-marrying and count barn dancing, cow- tipping and playing cornpone amung the more entertaining activities around their boondocks or local habitations. I guess my point is this, was someone intentionally trying to be offensive or did Bubba get carried away with the dail up again trying to meet new people cause his sister patched things up with her dad? (For more information on the dangerous effects of incest, check out The Redbucks this Saturday night at yu gong yi Shan)

I agree with Gareth, and I agree with Doc. I am for free speech, and because of that I can choose to ignore when people like Bubba get carried away regurgitating ignorant beleifs that have been absorbed through failures in history to retain and allow the flow of free spech. It is the nature of the insult that insists upon free speech. Some argue that racism is an environmental factor, not a genetic one. Bubba has enough of a hard time with genetics, seeing as his sister and his mother are the same person. His draw towards racism is a factor of regurgitated brainwashing steeped in family tradition... not fully contumplated or even fully understood. This type of brainwashed
ignorance is one of the many reasons its good to have freedom of speech as the only way to break free from this kind of brainwashing is to get more information. It may also be the only way Bubba breaks free from "The best of Jerry Springer" lifestyle he has been born into. The only way to get better information is through media outlets that are free from censorship even if that means we have spend time reading self-absorbed spoutings from a pseudo-intellectual who shamelessly promotes his freinds' concerts (Saturday night, call Luke, Chip, Chris or any one of the five hundred other band members of The Redbucks for more information.)

If you read this all the way through, that is two minutes (five for Bubba) that you will never get back. This may the very argument for censorship afterall...


Don't bother replying, I will be practicing my right to ignore you.


I agree 100% with Gareth. At one point I quit the list because reading it was objectionable, but ended up signing back up to keep up to date. But as someone who has worked to get colleges and high schools involved, there is *no way* I would share the beijing-ultimate email address with a student. If a high school teacher should see almost any one of Betsy's posts, what are the chances the school would support it? It therefore cannot fulfill its purpose as a communications tool.

Ultimate as a sport and a community has a tradition of welcoming and respecting all people, not just those who think "anything goes". Posts by Betsy reflect on the whole team. If we want respect and recognition for the ultimate community we should have some for others. I don't think all personalities should be removed from the list - it can reflect team character to some extent - but the more "avant-garde" stuff really belongs on a separate list where those interested can post freely to their heart's content - or any other part of their anatomies, for that matter.

Tao, June 2, 4 pm:

An aforementioned "gossip blog" exists, and thank you Joe for putting the comma where it belongs: -- which, though it contains many of Betsy's emails + masturbatory-worthy photos, is censored within China. **Withholding desire to say more**

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