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Warning! This article contains Sensitive Words

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Massage Milk: "Cherish freedom, stay away from blogs

The Chinese version of Microsoft Spaces, along with most - probably all - other Chinese blog hosting services have automatic censorship programs which don't allow users to post "sensitive words".

"Sensitive words" are usually the names of political and religous movements and controversial things that might create instability in China if people say or write them too much. Dodgy things, words.

Below is a rough translation of a blog post called Sensitive Words. The original post is on Massage Milk (按摩乳), which is perhaps better translated as Massage Breast.

The author is Dai San Ge Biao (带三个表), which means 'Wears Three Watches' but is also a play on the words 'San Ge Dai Biao' (三个代表), which refer to Jiang Zemin's famously incomprehensible theory of the Three Represents.

Thanks to Comrade N for sending the link, and this explanation:

Dai San Ge Biao is the pen name of Wang Xiaofeng (王晓峰), a reporter for Life Week (三联生活周刊), and he writes a good blog.

The translation below is by your correspondent. If you spot any errors, please let me know (jeremy -at- danwei -dot- org).

Today I saw a very honest post on Qinglang's blog (that he had copied from somewhere else) called Why I will not build my blog on Sina.com.

I myself was never planning to use Sina's blog platform, but after reading the post I am even more certain that I won't use it.

Nowadays, there are a lot of blog hosts and online forums with something that is really a Chinese characteristic: sensitive words (敏感词).

You don't know whether you should laugh or cry about these sensitive words. Things that were originally not at all sensitive, become highly sensitive things because of these sensitive words. The sensitive words continually remind you: "You better watch what you fucking say: there are some things that you just can't say."

On the one hand we have been prasing Ba Jin [the recently deceased writer] for a consumate hundred year lifetime of telling the truth; on the other hand, we are creating these sensitive words that don't allow us to speak.

Is the speech of ordinary people that terrible? I always remember a sentence from the Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping: "A revolutionary party does not fear the voice of the the masses, it fears the reign of silence."

On the other hand, there are times when you can't just let Internet users do as they please. If there were no controls at all, there would be chaos. The problem is deciding what method to use to prevent the Internet becoming anarchic.

Using sensitive words is a really clumsy, ridiculous and retarded method that does not solve any problems at all. It is like the ears of a deaf person, or the response of an ostrich to danger. It is just self-deception.

Let's suppose you write the following sentence on any blog host that has senstive word controls: "The viewership rating of CCTV's (中央电视台) recent TV series Passing Scenes of Beijing has reached 6.4%". You would not be able to publish this sentence on Blogcn and other such blog hosts because it contains sensitive words [i.e. 6.4 which is shorthand for certain events of 1989].

But has this sentence contravened the Fifth Clause of the Computer and Information Network International Internet Safety Protection Regulations? Of course not. Since it has not broken the rules, why the hell are you depriving me of my rights to free expression?

Furthermore, suppose I write a sentence like this: "We must see through to the essence of cults like Fаlungong" I imagine almost no blog host would allow this sentence to be published, because it contains sensitive words. You see, even my rights to criticize a cult have been taken away. Are computers fucking stupid, or are people?

If we accept that there must be some controls on Internet content, and we absolutely must use this sensitive words method, why can't they make the list of words public so that everyone knows what to look out for when they write? I think these lists would be very funny, but there is not even one blog host that is willing to make their list public, because if they did they would be spurned by users. Internet users would say: "So that is what you are fucking scared of!" But if they don't publish the lists, it is too troublesome to write because you never know which words will be considered sensitive.

It's like a girl whose whole body is highly sensitive from head to toe. Do you dare to touch her?

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