Much ado about … what?
Heard on the wireless this morning, some latter-day Mary Whitehouse calling itself the Internet Watch Foundation has decreed that a Wikipedia page should be banned. It seems the page in question includes a picture of a (child) girl in a state of undress, bringing it into witch-hunt territory. It’s about what turns out to be some old (1976 ferchrissake) pop record, and the picture is of the album cover and is on sale perfectly legally in the shops. But I didn’t know any of that until I found the wikipedia page in question via MJR’s blog.
What matters here is not some tacky picture (and I can’t see how anyone could consider it erotic – she’s pretty thoroughly unsexed in it). But the IWF is claiming that they’ve persuaded UK ISPs to block the page, in a coup Mrs Whitehouse could only have dreamed of. Trying it for myself, I could see the page (good). But later in response to another comment I clicked on the image, only to find that had indeed been blocked (ouch). Routing round the block, there’s another page with just a slightly larger version of the picture, again having no merit other than that of having provoked Big Brother.
That’s disturbing. I couldn’t give a damn about some pop group or tasteless picture, but if this is allowed to stand it’s the not-so-thin end of a wedge to things that matter a lot. And when I go to a page that does matter, I want to read that page. In other words, I want to choose Shakespeare over Bowdler, let alone some anonymous nobody without even the latter’s modest talents.
Dear Lazyweb, can anyone tell me what UK ISPs will stand up to vain and stupid censorship?
(Lots of Wikipedia links in honour of their role in this story. One more link: a transcript posted by the author of this wikipedia entry of this morning’s piece).