Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday 22 September 2007

'Sweary Blogging' and Usmanov

There's an interesting post up at J. Arthur MacNumpty in which I find nothing untoward, mostly, indeed I agree with more or less all the points made - I made my own small contributuion here on the web censorship that has been successfully carried out by Alisher Usmanov acting through his lawyers Schillings, even if they have not shut down discussion, in an oblique way unfortunately, of the underlying issues (the alleged background of Mr Usmanov). I do want to comment about one aspect of what he writes, though.

At one point Will (aka J. Arthur MacNumpty) writes:

Swearing is not the biggest threat to bloggery

", ... I hope that he realises that the threat comes from Usmanov for forcing the plug to be pulled, not from me (or anyone else) for using naughty words."

The 'he' referred to above is Tim O'Reilly, to whom Will refers here, with a link to a post by Angry Steve here. All this leads back, eventually, to the article written by Tim O'Reilly that got Angry Steve started and Will to take up the issue.

My own attitude toward what happens in my own blog is laid out in my Terms of Use and Links Policy (there are permanent links to both near the top right column of my blog). I have no desire to tell (or even suggest to) any other blogger what [s]he should or should not write in their own blogs, or allow others to write in the comments there. My views, which I enforce rigorously, apply only to this blog. As Angry Steve puts it, and I have modified what he has actually written without I believe changing the meaning in any way:

Blogs need content warnings? Tim O'Reilly needs a reality check

You come in to my electronic home, and tell me how to live? *** off! [Be off with you!]

You've come to this site to read my rants. MY RANTS, d****t [forsooth]. You can agree, disagree, ***k off, I don't care. But you came here of your own free will.

- let me be very clear, I share this attitude completely. I choose not to express that attitude, however, in ways that involve swearing. And I hope that my somewhat subfusc substitutions above are seen in the ironic way I intend them.

What all this boils down to is that I share Will's basic premise that censorship is a far bigger threat to blogging than swearing, per se, ever will be. And if he, or Angry Steve when he writes "But sometimes it's just funny" feel that the use of swearing or profanity adds something then who am I to naysay them? I don't permit it here, or in comments here - that's all. And if people don't like it then they have the perfect solution - don't visit.

Why, though? Some of the bloggers who use swearing regularly are highly-intelligent and expensively-educated people and write very entertaining and informative posts. Indeed I read some of these bloggers very regularly and comment very occasionally there, too. However, I do not feel I have to justify myself to anyone - this is my blog and I'll do what I like here and I don't like swearing or profanity. I do however live in the real world (and as someone who had 'Poof' scratched into the paintwork of his car a few years ago, I know all about that, thank you very much)! It's a matter of choice. There is only one thing that truly irritates me about some bloggers and that is interminably long posts about nothing very much, or about topics that the blogger has covered ad nauseam in the past - there are 'swear-bloggers' in this category, but there are also bloggers who rarely or never express themselves in this way, too. My solution to this kind of tedium is simply to cut down my visits, or stop reading entirely; having a feed reader helps enormously in sifting out the worthwhile from the dross, or indeed the gross.

Now I have rabbited on quite long enough! I'm writing this sitting up in bed (it's now 9.05am) and I do need to get up, take a shower and get some breakfast.

PS/ I've just noticed that one blog (other than Guido) that does not mention the Usmanov story is Samizdata; ironic really given the meaning of the Russian word 'samizdat'. Freedom of expression is for everyone - right-wingers, left-wingers, communists, fascists, homophobes, spaced-out hippies. Equally I think it is fine for people to express disagreement with the views of others. It's only when that freedom of expression moves on to certain actions that the law needs to step in.

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