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    From: J. Michael Straczynski <>
 Subject: To Sysops from jms
      To: CIS  
    Date: 2/27/1997 6:03:00 PM  

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(22 messages)

WizOp Wes Meier <> asks:
> Perhaps it isn't an exact parallel, but wouldn't you do something
> similar to avoid Babylon 5 becoming rated "R"? As an example, in
> your role as sole producer/creator of Babylon 5, would you
> tolerate the viewers of your program voicing their opinions of
> its direction while you were producing it?

||Pictures or text exposing extreme cruelty, physical or emotional
acts against any animal or person which are primarily intended to hurt
or inflict pain. Obscene words, phrases, and profanity defined as text
that uses, but not limited to, George Carlin's 7 censored words more
often than once every 50 messages (newsgroups) or once a page (web

Well, then you have an immediate probelm here, Wes. The
deletion in question seemed to occur after only ONE appearance. The
rule stipulates "more often than once every 50 messsages." If you are
strictly adhering to this rule, then it stands to reason that you have
the statistics to back it up. Otherwise how can you enforce it?

So it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate that the use of one
word occured more than once in every 50 messsages. Please show me the
stats you used to verify this position. Otherwise it is random,
capricious, and in direct violation of the rules you say you are
following. Because by inference, removing messages that contain words
such as the one you note LESS than every 50 messages is a VIOLATION of
CIS rules...and since only you have the access to the full stats on
this system, it is now incumbent upon you to demonstrate whether or not
you are in adherence to, or violation of, CIS rules.

"As you can see, Joe, we really have NO CHOICE but to adhere to the
"Carlin's 7" list of forbidden words (and "but not limited to")."

Except, of course, that Carlin's list of Words You Can't Say On
Television is no longer applicable, because many of the words he said
you couldn't say back in the 1960s and 70s *can* be said NOW on TV. So
the rule itself is irrelevant. Even Carlin himself has said so...I was
watching one of his HBO specials yesterday, and he his own self noted
that the list was no longer accurate, and he had to revise it upward to
include new and more interesting words (which he enumerated at great

Since CIS seems to be looking to a comedian to define its rules
on language -- odd since I can't ever remember a Supreme Court decision
favoring the Comedian Rule in examining issues of censorship -- then if
Carlin himself has stated that the rule no longer applies, then why
does CIS not recognize this? If Carlin's word was good enough to make
the rule, why is it not good enough to UNmake the rule?

Additionally, the argument falls apart on the basic principles
of language itself. The word Carlin offered, another word for urine,
is not the same word as "pissed. The latter refers to anger, and has
nothing whatsoever to do with bodily fluids of any form. It's spelled
the same, but IT'S NOT THE SAME WORD, WES. It's like *heat* and
*heat*. They're both spelled the same, but one is a unit of
temperature, and the other is a term used in racing for a match between
several cars. So you're in the unlikely position of deleting a message
for using a word that LOOKS like a word you supposedly can't say, but
ISN'T the same word, wasn't intended as the same word, and doesn't
mean the same thing within context.

From a simple, grammatical perspective, it isn't ON Carlin's
(now defunct) list because it isn't one of those words.

"You don't like it. We don't like it. Perhaps it isn't an exact
parallel, but wouldn't you do something similar to avoid Babylon 5
becoming rated "R"?"

I used language that I knew would get us a more restrictive TV
rating just two weeks ago. Also, there is no R rating in TV. The
highest you can go is TV-M. Which was the category under which
Schindler's List was just broadcast...which received praise from
members of Congress (all but one), and was upheld by every conceivable
standard even though it featured full frontal nudity. If I felt it had
sufficient merit, I'd be willing to go for a TV-M. If it's good enough
for Spielberg and Congress, sure, it's good enough for me.

"Members of these forums are welcome to ask about our policies and,
even, to question them. However, such messages are considered to be
between the sender and the senior staff of this forum and are not
subject to open debate."

So in other words, the discussions people would need to
determine what they should and should not say are closed off from the
people so that they cannot see those discussions and thus cannot know
when they offend, or why, or what recourse they may have. "not subject
to open debate" is another way of saying "not subject to open
*dissemination*." Sure, you can't do an offensive thing if everybody
knows about you make sure the discussions of it all take place
in utter privacy.

Every user here is DIRECTLY AND PERSONALLY affected by CIS's
policies on language and message content. So how, then, can
discussions of these policies be excluded from the users? Logically,
you *want* users here to know what the rules are, so that they
understand them, and thus you don't have to enforce policies that seem
arbitrary and blindside people. Therefore the logic of "not subject to
open debate" falls apart on the face of it; the line stems from the
corporate arrogance that says, "We cannot be questioned, and we will
not be held accountable. Only YOU can be held accountable."

"As an example, in your role as sole producer/creator of Babylon 5,
would you tolerate the viewers of your program voicing their opinions
of its direction while you were producing it? Such would be
distracting to the cast and crew and would be something best held in
privacy between those concerned and yourself."

Well, in point of fact, every day I'm online, I hear from the
thousands of people online who express their opinions of the direction
of B5 while we're making it. That's kinda why I'm HERE.

Secondarily, the purpose of message boards is DISCUSSION. The
purpose of a TV studio is to make a show. Two different creatures.
Which puts you in the position of, "The message boards are for the
purpose of users expressing their opinions EXCEPT when the messages are
ABOUT expressing their opinions, in which case they cannot express
their opinions."

Every argument you have presented is either fallacious,
unprovable, involve mass exercises in paralogia, or come down to the
basic bottom line, "Because I *said* so, that's why!"

It doesn't hold up, Wes.


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