Friday, June 01, 2007

Storm in an egg-cup

I read some of the Torygraph today. There's a story about the RSPB forums banning the word cock (when describing male birds) and shock, horror it's all to do with being politically correct.


The media don't half stretch the meaning of PC. To me, it means to attempt to redress social injustices caused by prejudice, which can involve changing or avoiding potentially offensive language, especially with respect to gender, race, or ethnic background. To use positive terminology instead of negative.

Euphemisms for male genitalia or stopping swearing don't enter into it [As Mr Praline would say]. That's Mary Whitehouse territory, and I very much doubt she was politically correct. Obsessed with sex, possibly.

Back to the point, this story is nothing to do with the word cock being banned for being politically incorrect in some way, it is in fact completely to do with software filters automatically bleeping the word out.

Some sites with such forums use software to render them "safe" for younger users and so that those with work-based or parental controls are not forbidden access to their site. These filters are stupid, blunt instruments; they are not discerning or context-driven. The software is unable to distinguish between the word "cock" used in order to seek porn, to swear (or to suggest doing rudies with people on forums) and the word "cock" used to refer to a fowl of the male kind.

Don't blame the "PC gorn mad brigade" whoever they may be (and I'm of the suspicion that they do not in fact exist), blame the software manufacturers. In this case, er, Microsoft I believe.

So Mr Gates, it's all your fault!

But thanks for the computers at my local library.

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