Debate: Should swearing be censored online

Discussion in 'Humour and Debate' started by SigmundFreud, Jan 23, 2011.

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  1. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned

    Should swearing be censored online?

    I know I've created a similar thread but the responses were mostly like "Peter owns this site he can create whatever rule he wants blabla". So I'd like to make the topic more general.

    Of course I think swearing shouldn't be censored online.

    If you start to censor what people can or cannot say where do you stop...
    They are just words. If a word offends you, its because you've attributed a meaning to it which you find offensive.
    After all, the meanings that you give to words may not be the meaning intended by the person using them. It's all semantics.

    With regards to the youngsters. They will hear and read someone swear. This is the age of the Internet. Everyone is so interconnected these days. Even to total strangers.

    If you don't want YOUR kid to read profanity, install a very strict internet filter. If other people don't find it necessary to 'protect' THEIR children by installing such measures, it's not up to you to enforce YOUR values on them. Besides, what they hear on the playground or during a Saturday afternoon of telly watching blows whatever "profanity" here on the internet away.

    Why should it be our duty to cater to those who don't use colourful language?

    Just be an adult and install netnanny, or any other net filtering software.

    It is like saying people should allow their children to play on the freeway, and everyone should just dodge them. If you do not want your child to be "run over" by the english language, be a responsible parent and watch over your children while they are on the internet or simply install filtering software.

    Your kids are not my responsibility, they are yours.

    As long as people are not threatening other people or calling people names I really don't care what people say.

    People are always going to find something to get offended by. Judging people and curtailing their rights might just end up with you getting judged right back, something which always seems to fly right above the heads of the lets "restrict-everything-movement." It will just turn into a game of tit for tat. That is what will happen if you censor people. History guys.. does no one read about it any more?

    If you want a kid friendly forum, feel free to start one is stopping you, but please stop trying to dominate other people because they have a different opinion and they don't want to be on the kids only forum. It's also not right to expect the users here to babysit your children, that's the parents job, believe it or not. The internet is not a toy for children, even though it may be used by them.

    Also, once you start banning words, the kids start seeing that they have the power to make people uncomfortable, and cringe. English prohibition just makes the words even more "powerful" to the kids. When they are away from their parents and administrators they tend to misuse, and over use them.

    And to the people who are offended by swear words, why are you offended? Or why do you find certain words offensive? Does reading certain words cause harm to a person? Should we censor derogatory terms like "stupid" too?

    Discuss. :twisted:
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  2. SoulAngel

    SoulAngel Active Member

    Clearly you are not going to let this subject go, though I am not going to debate with you the opinions you have. They are your opinions and you are entitled to them, as we all are, including the owner of this site.

    However, I think you may find that this is a family friendly forum, with a level of decency that can accommodate most people and the rules were clear when you joined. So why are YOU telling US to go make a kid friendly forum? It is clear that if you are not happy with the rules should perhaps consider moving on?
    2 people like this.
  3. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned


    Nowhere in my post did I specifically mention the iSketch forum. How narcissistic of you to quickly assume I was referring to you. "Kid friendly forum" could refer to any forum and I didn't ask you to create a kid friendly forum... Quite the opposite actually..

    I just wanted to know your views on the topic, geez. You have conveniently ignored the rest of my statements and cherry picked the one point which you thought you could give a "clever" retort to. Why should we let the existing rules get in the way of a good discussion?

    And I think you do not understand what a debate is.

    Debate - a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints.

    Ad hominem attacks are not welcomed in debates.

    Nonetheless, thank you for your wonderful contribution.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  4. Jmac

    Jmac New Member

    Not as a blanket general rule for the entire internet, no. However I do believe that sites should maintain the right to censor their activity as they deem fit.
    To me true freedom of speech entails the right to hear or to not hear what you wish, especially in private places. Now I know that the internet is not 'private' and that sites themselves are still technically 'public', however for sites where a membership is required to contribute, members should adhere to those standards.

    I agree that blatant censorship on a global level can get out of control, and I also agree with you that kids will be exposed and that the parents need to play a major part in teaching their kids morals and values and not expect for the internet to teach them the correct things. However I dont think it should be the parents responsibility to teach the kids how to tame a lion right away and then throw them into the lions den. Sure some can do it if they want, but i believe that people should be able to have kitten dens if they want so that they can help their kids get used to the cats and learn how to handle it so that when they are older and enter the lions den they will have the experience necessary to make their own decision rather than being overwhelmed by what they find. And surprisingly there are quite a few adults who would rather not venture into the lions den, but like to stay in 'nicer' environments. Which again is why i advocate the choice of the website to censor or not but not on a internet-wide basis.

    Now you also bring up why it is that profanity offends people if they are just words. Yet you say "As long as people are not threatening other people or calling people names I really don't care what people say. " Why do those threatening words mean anything to you? Why does calling people names offend you? For the most part when someone uses profanity they are either threatening someone or calling someone names. Now there is a difference between using swearing in anger and frustration, and using it in normal language. But like it or not swearing is an extreme form of language that is not completely necessary as there are ways to express the exact same meaning without swearing. So the question then becomes, when is it appropriate to swear? One must understand the time and the place that make it appropriate to use, just as when i am meeting with my clients i wouldnt use slang and informal greetings but rather more classy language.
    You mention that kids misuse and abuse the words when they are prohibited, but if we can teach them in which situations they are most fit, and in which ones they should be avoided that would be best. Blatant censorship AND blatant uncensorship across the entire internet both damage the ability for the individual to choose for themselves.

    I probably missed some of your points, as it was a long post, and I also may have repeated myself, not been very clear, as i was writing this while watching tv off and on so feel free to ask more questions/defend your opinions/challenge me.. I enjoy debating :biggrin:
    1 person likes this.
  5. iSnack2.0

    iSnack2.0 New Member

    Just thought I'd add a random cr*p to the debate:

    We live in the animal kingdom, do we not? Are we not the top of the food chain? There is no such thing as censorship in the animal kingdom. It simply should not exist, it is a product of the human imagination. A mutation of simple common sense.

    If one does not wish to see "swearing" then one should simply cease in reading anything that contains such words. Although, swearing does not exist, either. As I have noted before - all words can be used in a derogatory manner and "swear" words can be used in a non-derogatory manner, it all comes down to structure.

    However, since we now live in a world controlled by the media which contains vile material such as "The Human Caterpillar", it is apparent that warnings should be placed accordingly.

    So in my opinion, the use of common sense accompanied by warnings AND parental supervision in underage cases is the way to go.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  6. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned

    I'm not going to argue with you on this one or the a**ins will be on my case.

    Wouldn't net filtering softwares solve the issue? It makes the internet a "kitten den" for whoever who wants it. Again, it's up to the parents to decide what and how they want to teach their children.

    Also, this way, people could choose to use/hear or not to use/hear certain words. Everyone would have a choice.

    By threatening, I mean when someone posts a comment anywhere saying something like "I know where you live. I'm going to kill you". Lool it is a little extreme but some people especially kids might be intimidated by such threats. Then of course it would be up to the owner of the site to remove it when it is reported.

    Words do not offend me but the way in which words are used irk me. For example,

    "You're ♥♥♥♥ing awesome" - Most would not have a problem with this.

    "You're ♥♥♥♥ing retarded" - Now probably everyone would have a problem with this and they would report this comment/post.

    So now it's no longer the word itself that is offensive but the way it is used. You can't censor the word "retarded" because mental retardation is a real disorder. If you're going to censor hateful words, you might as well censor all of them like "stupid", "retard" , "kill" , "fail" , "hate".

    On the internet, most people don't know who you are and most of them don't care. If you choose to use "classy language" that is up to you but shouldn't others have the choice to not use "classy language" too?

    To me, "swear words" are not an extreme form of language. They are just words. I usually reply to the "it is not necessary" arguments with a Stephen Fry video so here it is. It is also not necessary for a person to say "posh" instead of "sophisticated" but is anyone going to tell him it's unnecessary? Nope.

    I can think of instances where swearing actually helps to emphasise the issue under address and make one's point even more forcibly. There's a poem by Philip Larkin called This be the verse. The poet's use of the swear helps to emphasise his frustration and the emotional significance of the issue under question. If he had replaced it with something like "they mess you up" it doesn't have the same impact.

    In choosing not to swear or not to use words that are arbitrarily deemed as curse words on the basis of some moral preconception, one is actively limiting one's own vocabulary. Which is ironic because it is what people who oppose swearing bring up time and time again.

    Children should be allowed to come to cursing as a matter of their own curiosity. One can provide direction and perhaps advice but that's all one should offer. By allowing them to come to the reality of the situation naturally, one effectively neutralises the fetishism that develops around these issues. If you tell someone, particularly children, that something is wrong then they immediately start to have a fascination with it and they will engage/indulge in it whenever they have the opportunity. Which defeats the purpose of censoring words in the first place. But by advertising it as just another part of the language, one robs it of that fetishistic quality. That is why I think swearing should not be censored.

    Lol thanks for this.

    (To the people who think I'm "trolling": use a dictionary or perhaps visit to truly understand what "trolling" means. But thanks for the warning, a**in)
  7. iSnack2.0

    iSnack2.0 New Member

    You're more than welcome.
  8. Jmac

    Jmac New Member

    ok. Just curious, do you agree with my free speech definition? No arguing, just a simple yes or no will do, I really am just curious.

    Net filtering is one way of resolving this issue, although i personally do not think it is the best way to solve it. Lets say for example that the right to censor your internet site is taken away and so there is no censoring allowed. Now I install a filter to keep my young kid "safe" from the swearing. My kid has to do a report in school on elephants. He wants to look up some information on the internet, but cannot because National Geographic and all other sites are riddled with vulgar comments and rude language, which the filter blocks. I no longer have the choice to view any website without being subject to unwanted material.

    Right now everyone has a choice, the choice just comes first. If you choose to contribute to a certain place, the consequence associated with that choice is that you follow the rules of the site. If I choose to go to a non-regulated site, then the consequence is being exposed to vulgar material.

    The filter idea makes it so that those who do not wish to read swearing are forced to limit even more their internet options, whereas the current system does not limit the viewing options of any website for those that are comfortable with the material.

    i agree that context can have a lot to do with it. Now if there is no censorship, why would it be up to the site owner to regulate the threatening posts? Because it makes a few of the readers feel intimidated/uncomfortable. Swearing has the same effect on some of the readers/users of the site. It makes them feel intimidated/uncomfortable, and therefore the owner of a site has the right to remove it. In some cases the owner decides that rather than going through every post and removing it, they make a rule and censor so that it automatically removes what they would have removed manually.

    My choice was working for a consulting company, the consequence is using "classy language." If I chose to work for a moving company (which i did once), the consequence is being surrounded by constant swearing. You cant choose to kill someone and then choose that you dont want to go to jail. Sometimes we just need to learn to accept the consequences (good or bad) of our choices.

    I agree that it can help emphasize something or prove a point.

    I am ok with actively limiting my vocab. Some say it limits the swearers vocab as well (not always the case, but i have seen it to be true). And its not always the people who oppose swearing who bring it up all the time (see Freud, Sigmund :twisted:).

    I dont really agree on that underlined part as a parenting technique. Especially when they are young, when they are in their mid-late teens that works better. I strongly believe that morals are important to a good society though, so that may influence my thinking.

    I understand the 'fetish' quality that comes from censorship, i think the same thing happens with drugs in high school, although i dont think that legalizing it would be good as that essentially 'condones' its usage. (that is an argument and a half on its own though, so lets not get into that).

    Even if you are, I like feeding trolls :twisted:

    oh and snack2.0 - the animal kingdom thingy made me laugh, i was picturing a llama with a censor bar being held over its mouth by another llama... lol
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  9. iSnack2.0

    iSnack2.0 New Member

  10. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned

    No, I think true freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation, or both. It is a basic human right that helps preserve peace and order. Freedom to express opinions and views promotes creativity and paves the way for progress.

    In both systems, those who do not wish to read swearing are already limiting their internet options. However, the current system does not completely allow people to say/post certain things because of what some might have deemed as "inappropriate". So they are not allowed to speak freely. Why? Because some people are not "comfortable" with the material. Why should the people who are comfortable with such material give up their freedom to say anything they want(as long as it's on-topic, non-threatening and not derogatory) because some are too puerile to handle it?

    In the first case that you presented, the kid is old enough to get on the internet for a report. I think it is then the responsibilty of the parent to explain the kind of material that child might come across when he gets on the internet and monitor his activity. Not being able to view the content of the site because it contains profanity is just the price you have to pay if you want to protect your child and not allow him/her to see material which you have decided to be bad for him/her. Perhaps you could get a book about elephants for your kid?

    Threatening posts would make some readers feel intimidated. That is justified. A threat is an act of coercion wherein an act is proposed to elicit a negative response. It is a communicated intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. A threat may or may not contain "swearing".

    However, removing comments(even though they are on topic) because it contains certain words that you do not like does not justify the removal of such comments. If someone tells you that you post utter nonsense online, it would upset you or make you uncomfortable but that doesn't mean that comment should be removed. Basically, people would only be saying nice things to each other because that's what they are only allowed to do.

    I think the only comments/posts that should be removed are those that are off-topic or if the sole purpose of them is to disparage someone.

    You make it seem like swearing is such a bad thing. Like it is an abomination. I have already proved that any word could have the same effect so it's just down to how you use any word and I have also shown the positives of uncensoring particular words. Sure you may be surrounded by constant swearing but that doesn't mean YOU have to swear. You have the right to not swear.

    Aha. I might bring it up occasionally. If you want to limit your vocabulary then that's your choice and I only ask for the same right to choose not to limit my vocabulary.

    Again you are comparing a few mere words to something that causes actual physical harm to a person.

    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  11. db1986

    db1986 Super Moderator

    As I mentioned in the other thread, I'm not a huge fan of swearing, even though I hear it all the time at work, I just simply choose to ignore it. It is completely impossible to stop swearing on the Internet, not only because so many other forums, and uploaded audio tracks and videos for example, contain "swear words", but also we can't really prevent people from free speech. Unless, of course, it is derogatory.

    I think that the easiest solution for all this, if it's possible of course, is to have a choice as to whether swear words are censored or not, just like iSketch does. This way, nothing major needs to be changed and everyone essentially gets what they want. If you wish to see censoring, enable it, if you don't, disable it. I imagine that if this were possible, we'd have an extra option in our User Control Panel :)
    1 person likes this.
  12. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned

    @db1986 why don't you like swearing and shouldn't that be in feedback?
  13. db1986

    db1986 Super Moderator

    I'm not sure really, I guess I've just been brought up that way. If people use "swear words" in everyday language, to me it seems pointless in adding such a word to the sentence, especially the f-word.

    Yes, perhaps I have gone slightly off topic, it's more related to the other thread, but seeing as that thread was locked it seemed just about appropriate to mention it here instead. I could have started a new thread in Feedback and linked it to the locked thread, but dwelling the locked thread wouldn't do much good :)
  14. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned

    Scientists believe swearing does actually offer some pain relief. If you want to learn more about that, read Frederik Joelving’s article on swearing. Personally, I’m not so sure it’s about the swearing itself, but rather the expression and acknowledgement of the pain. At least on psychological and emotional levels, I do think that when things are internalised and left unexpressed, they can hurt for longer and cause more damage, as opposed to when they are expressed. Maybe this is how it works with pain. Even if the scientists are correct though, they also say that overuse of profanity diminishes the effects of pain relief when you really need it, so be warned.

    Cool story bro.
  15. afterglow

    afterglow New Member

    1 person likes this.
  16. Casta_Diva

    Casta_Diva New Member

    Having skimmed through the locked thread and glanced over the majority of this thread, I fail to see the point in this debate.

    Yes, certainly censorship is a negative aspect of our global world. In 1984, Orwell quite aptly projected what would happen with regards to observation, control, and censorship. There are multitudes of examples which are pointless to list, as I'm sure we can all think of some.

    That being said, I urge you to consider the impact of your vocabulary both online and in real life. It is true that you are not responsible for the people who read or hear your cussing in a public setting like, say, iSketch (the game, which has free public access). And parents are wrong to expect the world to do their child-rearing job for them. Every parent makes their own socially, culturally, or religiously informed decisions about how they want to raise their child(ren), and they should not expect that everyone respects that.

    I realise that your primary question for debate has been on the subject of swearing in any online setting. Of course there is no way to mediate this, nor should there be (in a public situation). I am sure that there are as many hideously censored and biased websites as there are ones with mature subject matter.

    But it seems to me that this entire issue (on this forum, I mean) has sprung from the fact that swear words which are published in posts are converted to heart icons. Is this really such a horrible thing? As has been mentioned multiple times, this is not a public website -- it is designed such that members must register a name and password and agree to certain terms and conditions regarding their behaviour. It seems as though you have also taken issue with the fact that the rules have been amended to prohibit the obnoxious posting of random images.

    However, the swear/heart substitution has been in effect on this forum since I have been here. And although change is always a good thing, I believe that this particular issue is moot because of the private nature of the site. Surely, any random person can view the site, but as soon as you begin posting, you assume a responsibility in maintaining the terms to which you originally agreed. Simple as that.

    It is not such a travesty that we can't see your cursing. Actually, most of us can probably still understand which word it is from the contextual indications. Is it that the hearts offend you? Why do you need them to disappear? I am genuinely curious as to what your impetus has been for this debate. It appears as a debate over censorship in general, but it seems to have sprouted from your chagrin over the inability to curse on this site.

    People will speak/write in a way such that represents their personality, and they will use the vocabulary that is available to them. I personally find the hearts to be amusing. Actually, I would find this entire thread to be amusing were it not for its monotony (to which I am contributing, I know...*shame*).

    Also, to iSnack: the human condition is distinct from animals in that we have the ability to react as rational self-determining beings. We also have the ability to express ourselves verbally. As such, censorship is something that has arisen entirely independently to our ties to the "animal kingdom," as you call it. Though I do agree with you that warning labels should be in place in cases where there is no presence of private maintenance/censorship.

    I realise that this is long, and I don't blame you if you didn't bother reading it. I don't read long posts either.
  17. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned

    for teh lulz.

    Yes of course. With freedom of speech comes responsiblity. However, in a free society you have to take the good with the bad. One must also realize that what offends one person may not offend another.

    Yes. The heart icons are a horrible thing. In my opinion it is absolutely offensive. I do not believe in any censorship, in any form. If you allow any, who gets to set the standard? Whose authority does he get it from? If offense is what bothers you, imagine if a Muslim extremist gets to set the standard? All women have to be covered from head to toe in burqa because they find the female form to be somewhat offensive.

    Even though this is off-topic, I will still reply you. I did agree to the terms and conditions but nowhere in there did they say I couldn't question them. (Hopefully they don't add another new rule). Evolution gave most of us a natural instinct to follow the rules to the death (unless they're unfair, in which case sometimes rebellions happen). In a tribe sort of thing, questioning the rules can lead to chaos and eventually breakdown which would most likely bring death. So naturally people follow the rules and put down people who question them. It used to be a good thing but now it's kind of pointless in such a strong society. There are a lot of stupid rules out there, and people who won't allow questioning are holding back society.

    And "obnoxious posting of random images"?! I don't find them obnoxious at all. They're a form of art and should be appreciated as such. Sure some of them were off-topic so they were removed but banning ALL of them? Some pictures were very much useful to my posts. It would be irrational to ban pictures because a few were off-topic. Shall we ban all posts too because a few posts were off-topic?

    So what's the point of censoring them..

    for teh lulz.

    I disagree. The way people speak/write does not really represent their personality. It's subjective. Let people use "the vocabulary that is available to them" freely.

    Aww you found it monotonous? That was offensive. You made me upset by using that word and now I'm emotionally distressed. MY LIFE IS OVER. NOOOO. /wrists.

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  18. iSnack2.0

    iSnack2.0 New Member

    2) Just because animals don't speak "English" does not mean they do not express themselves verbally.
  19. Jmac

    Jmac New Member

    Yeah thats why i stopped contributing. Usually in a debate one person gives their views, the other counters them, and then the first recounters, points are conceded, fun is had. Here Freud just keeps restating the same thing over and over again without considering the counter points. Makes it boring. boring = no fun = no lulz.
  20. SigmundFreud

    SigmundFreud Banned

    Well I think my existing points are sufficient enough to rebut your "counter arguments". Simply saying that I am restating my points and then neglecting them would make you seem ignoramus or like you are unable to continue in this intellectual discussion. I applied my views on the topic to the situations that you have presented. I had even provided links, evidences and examples to prove my point.

    Show me where have I not considered your counter points? I must have missed a crucial point of yours?

    My stand on this is rather simple (I'm so sorry to have to subject you to my repetitive points). Words are words. Censoring some of them because of your own personal prejudice/opinions/views/morals is unnecessary. Let people say whatever they want online freely. I don't need additional points to support this further.

    You (and a lot of other people) have a very negative opinion of certain words. I endeavor to ask you if you can define for me logically and rationally without recourse to hyperbole, to exaggeration and to misrepresentation, how specific words said online affects you directly? Because, you see, until you can define that and quantify it, then your position is a non-starter. You have no basis for what I can only call a prejudice.

    Jmac = boring = no fun = no lulz ):
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
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