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Saturday, December 5, 2009
Is CNS Censoring Words Out of Comments?

At the end of the version of Brent Bozell's latest column (bashing the show "DeGrassi: The Next Generation" for "deliberately pushing its gay agenda to youngsters"), a commenter's post states: "And it's not like it's on Nickelodeon proper. It's on TeenNick. A network for TEENS. Teens with hormones, who are starting to think about *** and sexuality-- whether you like it or not." Later in the post, it states, "Being *** hurts no one."

Confused by the asterisks? It seems the commenter was too. That resulted in another comment by the same person:

For readers, the first *** in my earlier post is s-e-x. and the second *** is g-a-y. It's weird they're blanked out because the original article uses both words. If these words can't be displayed on a NEWS site, then how are our teens supposed to get accurate information, and have frank discussion on anything regarding sexuality. After seeing this unnecessary censorship and nervous tip-toeing around issues of serious importance to today's youth, I think we probably need shows like Degrassi now more than ever. Thank God for Nickelodeon.

The commenter appears to be right -- words like "sex" and "gay" are replaced, automatically or otherwise, by asterisks. Some of the comments in a Dec. 3 article on a California school on "a pro-homosexual workshop given to 8th grade students in a leadership class" replace the words "gay" and "sex" with asterisks, even though those same words appear in the article ("gay" is limited to quotes, since CNS' preferred word is "homosexual"):

  • "At age 13 most of these kids have already been sexualized. These programs start in first grade - I saw a clip where a *** man was singing a song to 6-year-olds praising the "virtues" of being ***." 
  • "Why do we need pro-homosexuality programs? Is the *** community recruiting? Is this a religion now?"
  • "Since the *** Ed classes started in the schools, we not only have more teen crimes like sexual assualt, but more teens having babies, and the dumbing down of teenaged America also started about then."

It's a strange bit of prudery that CNS doesn't appear to trust its commenters to use words like "gay" and "sex" in commenting about articles on gayness and/or sex. Are they really so incendiary that only professional journalists are permitted to use those words? (Again, CNS reporters aren't permitted to use "gay" unless it's in quotes.) CNS' comment threads aren't exactly hotbeds of vulgarity and promiscuity as it is; most readers are well-behaved, if right-wing reactionary.

CNS might want to explain this censorship things to its readers -- as well as why it frowns upon the usage of "gay" in its news stories.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 AM EST

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