Russia starts Word War
That’s right…Word War. Why, what did you think I said? Oh, no, there’s no L in that first word. 😉
Actually, this is a serious and disturbing story, but I wanted to lighten it up a bit…by using words.
After all, that’s what this is about: the words artists use.
According to this
and other sources, President Vladimir Putin just signed a bill banning the use of swearing in public performances…that means in movies and theatre. I’m not sure why TV isn’t being immediately listed, although they may feel that is already sufficiently controlled in Russia.
Regular readers know that I don’t use swear words in these posts (for example, I may refer to the title of Charles Fort’s book as “The Book of the D*mned”). I also don’t use them in my “real life”.
However, that does not mean that I oppose their use by others, including in art.
I do warn people when there is language in a book…but that’s so that they can make an informed decision on reading it or buying it for someone else.
I read books with obscenities in them. I know they are going to be there ahead of time…that doesn’t stop me.
In fact, I have a problem with all kinds of obscenity statutes. I think anything fictional should be allowed. I don’t want to ban ideas.
That is ideas…not actions. There are certainly illegal and harmful physical actions people can do, and profiting from the actual (as opposed to fictional) marketing of recordings (not simulations) of those is an entirely different issue.
Banning words, though? I can’t justify it.
It doesn’t matter to me what the words are. The Institute of Russian Language recently (in December) defined some words which would certainly be included in the ban. The article describes them:
“Two depict male and female reproductive organs, one describes the process of copulation and the last refers to a promiscuous woman.”
Presumably, those words will be in Russian (I actually took some Russian years ago), but the ban will likely also apply to foreign movies using equivalent words in English.
Now, when I say “ban”, it’s really a matter of being fined for using them in certain kinds of works of art. It’s not that big a fine…about $1,400 for a company (although the penalties get more severe with repeated infractions). Gee, I suppose if they show The Wolf of Wall Street in Russia, it might offset the impact of foreign sanctions on the economy. 😉
This isn’t retroactive, though. It’s all a bit convoluted. Books will be issued with warnings…it’s more about movies and theatre, from what I can see.
The bottom line is the statement of it. “We will control your language”.
Even if you agree with, for instance, banning books with the “F word” or “N word” in elementary schools, this is a dangerous precedent for Russia. Suppose they decide a term for a minority group is an obscenity? Or a minority idea? What if they said that “free market” was obscene? What if they said that if you say “Roma” or “Krymchak” you can be fined?
In many countries, it has been made illegal to speak specific languages. That’s a way to hold down minorities…and can lead to the endangerment of the existence of that language.
For me, it’s the concept that the government controls the words that are used that’s the problem. I have no issue with the market voting against the use of words by not buying a product. I personally prefer to have information (but not spoilers) about something before I buy it…but I don’t want the government to force that on us.
What do you think?
Please feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post…I know the poll doesn’t cover all of the options. Could it happen in the USA? How is this different from the movie rating system (which is industry self-regulation, not government mandated)? Is the Russian government just trying to protect its people? Is this much ado about nothing? I look forward to your comments (and yes, I might change obscenities you use…but I’ll make it clear if I do. I find that quite different from the government doing it. I think publishers and movie theatres can choose the content with which they are comfortable: again, that’s a market thing to me).
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