Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Turnabout is Fair Play

Like most people in the Information Technology industry, I find censorship incredibly stupid. Despite decades of research on the hypothesized link between violent media and criminal activity, no definitive evidence has ever been found. While news sources like to put forth the claim that experts overwhelmingly agree that there is a connection and that it is a significant problem in our society, a recent large survey shows that this is far from the case.

With those points in mind, you can imagine my reaction to a recent petition delivered to Target Australia that prompted the store to stop selling the new Grand Theft Auto 5 video game on the grounds that it depicts "graphic" sex and violence. But that's when the story starts to get good. A group of people who presumably thought the whole thing was as dumb as I do started their own petition to ban sales of a book that likewise contains plenty of sex and violence - the Bible! Not only that, it attracted about as many signatures as the original petition.

After Target Australia erred on the side of conservative moms, fans of the game or people who just didn’t like the idea of censoring a product because of its perceived vulgarity, created a new Change.org petition that requested that the store also ban the Bible… for the exact same reasons. From the petition (again, emphasis theirs):

"It’s a book that encourages readers to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘god’ points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking.

This is The Holy Bible. This book means that after various sex acts, readers are given options to kill women by stoning her unconscious, Setting them on fire, cutting off their hands, and killing their children!"

The Bible certainly has a disturbing amount of sex and violence. In fact, there have been whole books written on the subject. Oftentimes these passages are overlooked by modern audiences and can cause quite a shock to people who have never bothered to actually plow through the whole book.

Personally, I read the Bible all the way through twice while I was growing up Christian, and now I'm a Thelemite. You can't necessarily draw any sort of statistical conclusion from a single example, but I do find it amusing how far actually reading the Bible led me from fundamentalism. I also know several individuals who attended Bible college and are now OTO members, and have seen plenty of fundamentalists who for whatever reason don't seem to know the text of their own holy book.

As an example of the latter, I was very disappointed with Bill Maher's film Religulous for this very reason - it sure seemed like Maher picked weak targets. He interviewed an anti-gay fundamentalist who knew about the prohibition against male homosexuality in Leviticus, but seemed to be completely ignorant of Paul's remarks from Romans. I don't agree with the guy's position, but he should at least know the text well enough to argue it coherently. He's a full-time minister - isn't it his job?

At any rate, petitioning to ban the Bible here strikes me as a great tactical move. It highlights the ridiculousness of the original petition, and how Target Australia fundamentally erred by giving in to it. If the store doesn't want to sell anything that contains sex and/or violence it's their right, but it would mean removing a whole lot of stuff unrelated to this one video game. Also, if I were I Australian I would be looking for someplace else to shop that is less susceptible to hyperbolic nonsense.

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Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

Due to my chosen profession (writer of bad erotic fiction), I have argued on several occasions that if erotica deserves to be banned, then so should the Bible be banned.

Scott Stenwick said...

Hey, it makes sense to me! Just about everything the scolds want to ban can be found in its pages. Better still, of course, would be to ditch the whole censorship thing entirely.

Nerd said...

The Mitchell Brothers kept getting in trouble for filming pron during the 70s, so they ended up doing pron based on Biblical scenes. I think I have a copy of Sodom and Gomorah around here somewhere. lol

How about a Biblical video game?

Scott Stenwick said...

You mean like these?

Unknown said...

No one in Aus seemed to care about this ban very much...until the other day when Pirate Bay was shut down for good