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 Message
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: To Sysops from jms
      To: CIS  
    Date: 2/26/1997 6:37:00 PM  

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(22 messages)


Some recent rumors have come to my attention over the last few
days, which I hope, in this forum, to put to rest.

The rumors concern messages, posted here, which may have used
the occasional reference -- largely allowed on television, in
magazines, on the radio and elsewhere -- words such as "pissed off" or
"ass," that have been deleted or moved out of public view. That is to
say...censored.

Understand that those words are good enough for the Bible, which
tells us that god will "cut off from His presence he who pisseth
against the wall," and refers to the "jawbone of an ass." Now, if such
language is good enough for the Bible, then it seems to me that such
terms should be good enough for Compuserve.

Now, I say "rumors" because I'm sure that the sysops will now
come forth and explain that this was a terrible misunderstanding, that
no such thing ever happened, and will not happen in future.

Granted, obviously, there are certain words and phrases that
have no place in a forum such as this...the really Tough Words.
"Pissed off" and "ass" are not tough words...they are not even
firecrackers in the world of harsh language, nowhere near the
occasional cannon or howitzer that is out there.

Further, more disturbing, are the rumors that messages inquiring
about these censored messages, which do not in and of themselves
contain any such language, have THEMSELVES been deleted or moved out of
public view (essentially the same thing). That it is now inappropriate
and unallowable to even ASK about such things, regardless of language
used. And that such heavy handedness has caused the resignation of a
number of forum members here.

I say rumors, and I say unfounded rumors, because surely even
Compuserve would not actually take such action, and I'm confident will
now step forward to say otherwise. Why do I believe this?

Because Compuserve has a public image to maintain, and the
information that it was driving off users and deleting messages for
asking questions about censored messages would cause a furor of
substantial proportions.

Because I will be sure to post many colorful quotes from the
Bible in this space, and when they are removed, inform the National
Council of Churches that Compuserve is deleting material from the Bible
on the grounds that people should not see it. In sum, censoring the
Bible. This should go over extremely well in the press.

Because Compuserve and the sysops must know that if such rumors
*were* true that I would be forced to resign from this area myself,
rather than tacitly endorse such heavy handedness. I would publicly
announce that this area is not conducive to the open discussion of this
show, and that users should apply elsewhere.

Because on a daily basis, I give interviews to major newspapers,
magazines, television shows, radio shows, internet publications and
other venues in which I am asked about the online discussions of
Babylon 5; I speak at conventions across the country where these
matters are also discussed. And if this really *were* the situation
here on CIS, then in all of these interviews I would have no other
choice than to talk about messages censored simply for asking about
policies on censorship and their rationalization, let alone for
essentially innocuous words. I would talk about it *at length*, and
ensure that every newspaper and magazine and TV show and radio show
and internet publication and convention I spoke to printed or discussed
this information at length.

I would obtain the name of the CEO of Compuserve, and pass along
that information to journalists so that they could verify this for
themselves, since the idea is, as stated above, utterly
ludicrous...that any reasonably sane person could behave in such a
capricious and brutish manner. If this policy were in fact being
enforced, then I should imagine that the CEO of Compuserve would only
be *thrilled* to defend its practice to journalists at all hours of the
day.

Compuserve would surely know that such behavior can exist only
in the shadows, and that nothing so illuminates the corners of such a
discussion as a few well-aimed journalists...and where the average
person might not have a means of getting the word out...I do. And I
have an obligation to the many B5 fans using this service to maintain
the *reasonable and justifiable* limits of language that have always
been used here in the past, and that a show which encourages the asking
of questions will support those of its fans who choose to ask questions
of others, including "Why was that deleted?" without having to fear
that inquiry being itself deleted or otherwise obscured.

I expect now that the messages inquiring about deleted or
"disappeared" messages will be restored, and reasonable discussion be
permitted here, and this whole silly rumor discounted once and for all.

jms

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