The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A good bitch

Why waste money on basic civil, human rights and protecting minority groups when you can spend it on giving internet service providers (ISPs) a hard time? That must have surely been the logic running through John Howard’s head recently. Last week the PM announced a $189 million “crackdown” on “online bad language, pornography and child sex predators”, including $90 million to provide every household that wants it with software to filter out porn. Fair enough. Porn’s not everyone’s cup of tea; while I may chuckle at sex sites struggling to gain my attention by an ever-increasingly creative set of subject headers (‘My cock is really huge, but my girlfriend’s mouth is so small’), others may burst a blood vessel. But Howard’s new policy also includes plans to force ISPs to filter web content at the request of users – something the ISPs have branded ‘unworkable’. Steve Dalby, chief regulatory officer at iiNet, told the Sydney Morning Herald that such a move would “affect the performance of the network quite significantly” and that “it’s hard to understand ... how people will make decisions at the network about what Mr and Mrs Average ought to see, and you're talking about a censoring service provided by the private sector”. Quite. Especially since Mr and Mrs Average are just as likely to be tugging and fingering themselves to porn as a pierced, tattooed dyke or horny scene queen.

And if you think this is political correctness gone mad, be glad you don’t live in New York City. The NY Times reported last week that a bill has been proposed to outlaw the use of the word ‘bitch’. The city drew headlines earlier this year after it introduced a citywide ban on the word ‘nigger’, and now Councilwoman Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn wants to do the same with what she terms the ‘b’ word. ‘Bitch’ is “hateful and deeply sexist” according to Mealy, and creates a “paradigm of shame and indignity” for all women. Does that mean that the popular feminist magazine, Bitch, which has been running for eleven years, will be banned from newsagents in NYC? BANG! That was the irony of the situation making its presence felt, in case anyone missed it.

Then there’s the gays and drag queens to consider. “Half my conversation would be gone,” said Michael Musto, the Village Voice columnist renowned for his celebrity gossip. Whether a flat-out ban on the word is on the cards, or simply the context in which it’s used, is unclear. If I shout ‘Hey bitch!’ to my girlfriend while on a trip to NYC, how will they know if I’m being friendly or not? Extending the pronunciation to ‘Beeeeeeeaaaaatch!’ won’t necessarily make its intended effect on said girlfriend any clearer, so will it come down to voice tone and body language? And if so, who will police this? Even kennel-club owners and those who live with female dogs won’t be immune from penalty. Expect to hear the phrase ‘This is my doggess’ some time soon. Rap and hip hop just won’t be the same.

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