However, I must admit first-hand that eventually there may be little reason to actually discuss censorship, as reaching a cohesive conclusion in a discussion of this type can be very difficult. Merely starting to define the subject is difficult. Despite these apparent pitfalls, I believe it's timely to discuss the subject in a manner that leaves us something to bounce back from. Black on white, and not in a PSP ad. I also apologize for entering a dubious area of discussion that may yield discussion that is not suitable for everyone or might offend someone's values, whatever they may be.
The (admittedly) childish initiative for this post came when I recently stumbled upon a discussion regarding a practically non-existent "sex" scene in a game. While the existence of such a thing in a game in itself wouldn't warrant for any kind of discussion, the tone of discussion and its progression in the forum eventually prompted me to react.
Here's a broad description of the situation I mentioned beforehand; I don't want to link to the actual discussion so that it works better as an example: Greater detail is of no issue here.
- Game X has a "sex scene" that can be accessed by playing well.
- Player A wants to know how to access the "sex scene".
- Player B tells him the "sex scene" is not explicit or even visible.
- Player B tells how to access the "sex scene".
- Player A comments on the "sex scene".
- Administrator A states that the forum is all ages and discussion of sexuality is not allowed.
- Player B notes that the sex scene is not explicit or visible at all, and that the game is both ultraviolent and has an ESRB rating of "mature".
- Administrator B enters the discussion and tells that there is no room for discussion of rules.
- Player C enters the forum and says he lets his 6-year old kid see the game (that is violent and bloody) up until when you can see boobs with tassles.
- Player C is American.
- Player D retorts that in Japan, while there is lots of censorship, you can find anything you want if you search hard enough.
- Player D is Japanese and says he loves it.
For the sake of being able to discuss the issue, I believe you can broadly generalize three-four different approaches to censorship (regulation of violence and sexualized content in entertainment and art) around the world:
- Pan-European: Content shies away from "ultra"violence but tolerates both sexuality and violence to some extent.
- Except German, where nazis, blood or boobs generate horrible ruckus.
- Pan-Asian: Ultraviolence is fine, and sex is shown but bare essentials are covered by strange censorship laws, like for Player D in the example.
- American: Ultraviolence is fine, but sex and religion are super taboos, like for Player C in the example.
Armand also commented just moments earlier, based on a Flash animation, about how we are clearly living "at the extreme end of a Hegelian phase". Is he correct about that? Moreover, how do you feel about my division of geographical censorship? Any corrections, additions or gripes regarding it?
What about your opinion of censorship? What goes, what doesn't? How do you deal with the philosophical idea of limiting free speech or expression? I'll probably elaborate more on forms of censorship if we get any posts. I'm especially hoping Rax and Armand find time to respond.