Saturday, November 27, 2004

Black out vs. white out.

"Blacked Out" talks about something that was floating around the net a while back. In a court case about government abuse of power, a government censor blacked out something that talked about government abuse of power. Two things about the article stood out to me. One is this:
Geoffrey Stone, a former dean and provost of the University of Chicago law school, has a theory. "If you look at the whole letter, you see that they probably had some flunky go through and censor every reference to 'security' or 'national security,'"
It's not really a conspiracy. No one took the time to do a good job, so it was made into monkey work. Don't attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

That's reassuring. It's also confirmed by what I consider the story's punchline:
However, the government has made some changes in the way it goes about marking up documents. "We're finding that in other cases the censors are apparently realizing that it looks really bad when they delete large sections with that black Magic Marker," the A.C.L.U.'s Beeson said. "So now they are starting to use whiteout instead."
Nyuck nyuck nyuck! Don't have time to censor with a brain, so we get a monkey to do it instead! Black marks look bad, so we start using white marks instead! It's almost like solving the problem, but with less work.
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