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Censorship and Ignorance
Published on January 3, 2005 By Cordelia In Blogging

Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie Michigan has released its annual list of words that it would like to see “banished”. This is in no way an actual banishment of the words or phrases, but rather a list that nominees feel are overused, improper or just plain useless.

The list contains phrases like “zero percent APR financing”. Truthfully, the phrase could be much more simply stated as “no interest”.

Other phrases topping the list are:
“Wardrobe malfunction”
“You’re fired!” (And accompanying hand gesture)
“Red/Blue states”
“Journey”

There are other words, and you can find the complete article here: Link Or another one here: Link

There is one word whose banishment I really take exception to, and that is “blog”. To quote the article:

“BLOG – and its variations, including blogger, blogged, blogging, blogosphere. Many who nominated it were unsure of the meaning. Sounds like something your mother would slap you for saying.
“Sounds like a Viking’s drink that’s better than grog, or a technique to kill a frog.” Teri Vaughn, Anaheim, Calif.
“Maybe it’s something that would be stuck in my toilet.” – Adrian Whittaker, Dundalk, Ontario. “I think the words ‘journal’ and ‘diary’ need to come back.” – T. J. Allen, Shreveport, La.”

So…you don’t know what the word means therefore it should be banished? That’s some of the worst logic I’ve ever heard, especially when blogging is not making its way into the mainstream – it’s here.

Blogging is changing the face of journalism and business and altering the way we communicate thoughts and ideas to our fellow humans across the globe. Here are links to four articles that describe the changes in journalism and business because of blogging.

Blogging: the new journalism? (2003): Link

Forum: How blogging changed journalism – almost (2003): Link

The Bottom Line on Business Blogs (2004): Link

HP Quietly Begins Blogging (2004): Link

These articles are from 2003 and 2004, so why the ban on the word blog for 2005 and why is it that some people still don’t know what it means? Allow me to quote from the Entrepreneur.com article:

“What? You're not familiar with blogs? Then let me explain. Blogs are self-published chronicles of ideas, news, facts, opinions and inspirations that are frequently updated. The term, which stands for ‘Web log,’ was coined in 1999 and has caught on like wildfire. There are now about 4 million blogs on the Internet.”

I’d be willing to bet there are more than 4 million blogs out there now.

I may not be a huge fan of – for example - “izzle” speak myself (one of the banished words), but I would not seek to ban its use. In addition, I don’t really understand why phrases like “enemy combatant” or “safe and effective” should be on anyone’s hit list. It seems the ban on these phrases comes more from a lack of understanding of their meaning than from “uselessness” of the phrase.

We can argue semantics all day and night if you like, and in the end there will be phrases that some like and others don’t. Some phrases that have little to no meaning and yet are in mainstream use every day. It is good to have open communication about these things, but if we can’t use the words then we can’t properly communicate about it, can we?

Admittedly, the article was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but you can bet that somewhere, someone is telling someone else they can’t use a word or phrase because it has been “banished”.  Because they can’t understand the word? No, because they don’t want to.

Call it an “electronic journal” or an “online diary”, but take it away and the Internet will be filled with a resounding silence while next door neighbors lose the ability to communicate because they can’t understand the words coming off of each others lips and fingertips.

Fight the good fight. Do not allow our ability to communicate with one another be decimated by some pompous fools with a semantics fetish.

Blog on, humans!!


Comments
on Jan 03, 2005
"Fight the good fight. Do not allow our ability to communicate with one another be decimated by some pompous fools with a semantics fetish."

Why should they communicate? Why bother to read to find out the meanings of words and/or phrases and to see how they are used? And by academia no less.

"The phrase "You're fired!" (And accompanying hand gesture)"... is so tiresome. and this one too..“Red/Blue states”.

"Blog on, humans!!"

Here, here!
on Jan 03, 2005
I say, Blog on!!

But a word I would like to see banned (for overuse and general ignorance of its real meaning) is "Censorship". I've heard this word thrown in accusation against such things as a book not being put on a "prefered reading list" to the ratings on movies, tv shows, and video games.

The truth is, the only entity that can truly ever be guilty of "censorship" is the government, and then, only if it bans the means of expression completely.

In other words, it is not "censorship" for any book to be left off a prefered reading list; Any book to not be in the school library; any movie theater to choose to not feature a movie; a school teacher to not accept foul language in the classroom; a radio station or tv station to choose to not air a program.

What is censorship would be, a city, county, state, or federal official or agency to block the production or distribution of a book, film, radio or tv program to adults. A school teacher, priniciple or administrator telling a student that they can't read a book on school property, during what is considered "non class time" (unless of course that particular kind of book is already banned for minors, since there are laws that cover age appropriate material)(which is a different discussion altogether).

So in the whole Banning of whatever out of ignorance of the meaning of the word, let's not get caught at it ourselves.

In the meantime, let's all enjoy the irony of a call to ban the word "censorship" (at least where it is misused). ;~D
on Jan 03, 2005

ParaTed2K: Ah, semantics again, but you are correct. While the dictionary definition of censorship does not include the government, I admit that true censorship requires some kind of force or it is merely spitting in the wind. In fact, the makers of the list bring up many good points. How can a wardrobe malfunction? What I object to is not the fact that such a list exists, but that those who objected to the word "blog" didn't really bother to find out what blogging is (or perhaps they knew and just objected to blogging in general). I say, censor ignorance!! Oh, if only such a thing were possible...I might be silent the rest of my days. 

on Jan 03, 2005
Maybe they were too busy reviewing "Wardrobe Malfunctions" on their "TiVO"? Of course, TiVO (as a verb) is probably next on their hit list. ;~D
on Jan 03, 2005
Perhaps the phrase "hit list" will be next on their...you know.
on Jan 03, 2005
I actually with their banishment of blog. I'm so tired of hearing that word!
on Jan 06, 2005
I just have to say, to the people who voted on this, stay out of my blogosphere!
Messy: I agree. I actually hate hearing blog this and blog that....
on Jan 06, 2005
Blah(g), Blah(g), blah(g)... ;~D
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