Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

Butt Out, Then Back, in Pakistan

November 23rd, 2011

As usual, alternating her smart views with silliness, Rachel Maddow had fun with Pakistan’s announcement that it was banning well over 1,000 words from texting. F-word phrases of course made it, as did one that amused her, if you pardon, no end — crotch monkey. Then in what she lightly proclaimed as “a small reprieve for foul mouthed liberty,” the government stepped back, saying it was kind of a test.

The initial list includes 1,109 English words and 586 Urdu ones. Selections from the four major regional languages are in the works.

robertyoungmandrillMaddow was also amused that one of the officials who would been (and likely will be when this comes to fruition) responsible for implementing the spying and censorship had the last name of one of the banned English words, Butt.

Pic Note: The image is adapted from John Paul Young’s photostream and under Creative Commons license.

That’s a fairly common last name there, as it is in the singular or plural in many English, German and French speaking countries. I bear my own surname cross and empathize with the Butts in the puerile ridicule they often endure.

I’m not big on censorship and snort at the vainglorious and futile effort to re-cork the texting genie. Yet, I’m not surprised that Anglo-Saxon vulgarities and common phrases for sex parts and acts made the initial thousand-plus.

However, in a country where people surnamed Butt run the soccer league or are stars in it, as well as are high ranking officials, how silly is that to ban their names?

Years ago here in MA, I was not amazed to learn that my last name, Ball, is not deemed suited for display on a license plate.

Even Wikipedia has a page listing some of the noted Ball sorts and I have that occasional blog in which I have tunneled down to some of the many with my specific version. I feel that over the years I’ve more than earned Ball.

We moved every few years throughout my childhood. While Ball is a fairly common last name — 300 and something down the list of the tens of thousands of U.S. last names and much more common than non-ridiculed ones like Robertson — it gets far more than its share of puerile jokes. As we moved, I endured the same highly obvious repetitive puns and insults again and again and again. It was worst in junior high and high when kids and even teachers always had sex in mind.

In college days, I had a discussion with an Ivy linguist about risible surnames. He figured that mine had the greatest number of possible jokes. For a few like Fuchs or Shoemaker, there are jokes, but a pretty limited set. Mine includes, but is not limited to, most sports, primary sex acts, sexual body parts, myriad clichés like on the ball, have a ball, behind the eight ball, and get on the ball, food like meatball, non-sexual body parts like eyeball, formal dances, and down the list.

Over the years, it turned out to be a sort of intelligence test as I moved into a new school or neighborhood. People who made the most predictable insults invariably stood grinning as though someone was supposed to confirm how clever they were. These are the same folk who ask a tall person how the weather is up there or inform a balding guy that he’s losing hair. Sigh.

I briefly wondered whether ball made the Pakistani list, or just the more obvious balling. The beadles compiling the list must be bureaucrats’ bureaucrats.