Tuesday, May 11, 2010

FOX News Officially Steps into Activism

Posted By on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Just in case anyone out there still thinks FOX News is a news organization and not an tool of the hard right, or that Wikipedia is infallible: FOX News has claimed responsibility for inciting and orchestrating a purge of content on Wikipedia that they found objectionable. Namely, porn.

From a FOX News article....

The parent company of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia is rapidly purging thousands of explicit pornographic images from its websites as it prepares to announce a new policy regarding sexually explicit content in response to reporting by FoxNews.com.

The move came as FoxNews.com was in the process of asking dozens of companies that have donated to Wikimedia Foundation—the umbrella group behind Wikimedia Commons and its Wiki projects, including Wikipedia—if they were aware of the extent of graphic and sexually explicit content on the sites.

The threat of public shaming through inferring guilt by association has long been a political tactic, seen often within electoral politics, as well as with boycott lists for companies that support Planned Parenthood.

After the kerfuffle began, Jimmy Wales, the president of the Wikimedia Foundation, had this to say about it in a note posted to the site.

Wikimedia Commons admins who wish to remove from the project all images that are of little or no educational value but which appeal solely to prurient interests have my full support. This includes immediate deletion of all pornographic images. We should keep educational images about sexuality—mere nudity is not pornography—but as with all our projects, editorial quality judgments must be made and will be made—appropriately and in good taste.

Comedian Lenny Bruce, who was tried repeatedly for obscenity over the content of his act, was found guilty on the basis that his work also held no redeeming or educational value, and that it appealed solely to the prurient interest. The offending joke, slightly abbreviated (and not available on Wikipedia):

"Did you read about the the two schoolteachers who were busted for homosexuality? ... What came out at the trial is that they're good teachers. And do you know how long it takes to make a good teacher? l'll tell you something else. There wasn't one incident reported where a kid came home and said we had five minutes of geography, five minutes of cocksucking.''

Seeing as how that's an important piece of legal and cultural history, as well as an obvious social critique that was found in a court of law to appeal solely to the prurient interest—Wikipedia's new apparent guideline for unacceptable—it's enough to make one wonder what the educational value of censorship is or why anyone still takes FOX seriously as a news outlet.

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