So it’s that time of year again: the Second Life Birthday celebration, and the annual controversy: are nipples Evil? Past issues of this issue (haha, see what I did there?) have also included “Why did you make me cover up my statue’s nipples when the statue of David has genitals showing?”; this year’s now includes “What do you mean, naked Barbie dolls are not PG??“.

I was going to ignore the whole thing with a sort of sad-amused sigh, but I got into a discussion last night in the AWG Groupies group IM, and then today I randomly followed an Immy Sideways tweet (“tweet”), to a comment thread on the Second Life weblog. Generally I avoid weblog comment threads studiously, but this one was started by someone that I rather admire, and (although I admit I didn’t read the whole thing) seemed to have a certain amount of actual content.

So anyway, I posted. :) Here ya go…

Re: Censorship at SL7B?

And this wasn’t the only display similarly censored; apparently pictures of “naked” Barbie dolls were also judged to be “non-PG” (which I found deeply ironic, given that Barbie dolls are sanitized specifically so that even innocent young children can view them “naked” without anyone worrying about it).

This kind of thing is why I tend to ignore the Birthdays, much as it somewhat saddens me to say. It’s just not worth braving possible lag and crowds to experience something that is filtered so Draconianly to be squeaky-clean and prude-safe. Like, I should go out of my way to see something approved by the Linden Marketing Department? No, thanks.

Which I think is a great pity, because I know alot of people, many of them Resident volunteers, go to alot of trouble to put the Birthdays together, and to help them succeed. I’d like to be in the Target Audience, but apparently I’m not.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to use the term “censorship” even when there isn’t a monopoly or a government involved. Government censorship is a more worrying kind of censorship, but when even a non-monopoly private company says “we’re going to put together an art show that’s open to all (but no nipples or naked Barbie dolls or…)” I think the word applies quite well. It is, as Scylla says, perfectly within their rights; but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

As I’ve said before in various venues, it always makes me a little uneasy when the Lindens get into either content-creation or content-restriction. It’s inevitable that they have to do it sometimes, given the laws of the world they operate in, at least the restriction part, but I’d rather they did it as little as possible. When they spend resources (that could otherwise have been spent on, say, fixing the grid) on putting together a celebration whose content is so restricted as to be mostly boring, I, as a paying consumer of their services, tend to wish that they hadn’t.

Let the Residents put on the big celebrations! Then the interesting ones can be in Zindra, and if someone wants to put a no-nipples one up on PG land, more power to ’em. But my tier and annual subscription shouldn’t go to the latter any more than it should to the former, in my ever-so-humble opinion. If the Lindens want to put some resources into a Birthday Celebration, do it via advertising kiosks where people can advertised Birthday-themed events of any content class, and content-neutral stuff like that, not via an Official Linden Sponsored Celebration from which nipples and Barbie dolls are banned for lewdness…