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China: Mobilizing mothers for censorship

On January 19th 2010, the Beijing Association of online media established a group called Mama Jury to censor obscene and pornographic information online. According to report from Southern Weekend, the idea of organizing mothers to “protect” the children from pornography is originated from Western countries. However, the Chinese mother group is run by the CCP associated organization rather than by independent civic group compared to its western counterpart.

Yang Heng Jun questions the legitimacy of the “government-mother cooperation system”:

第一,谁授权给你们来“评审”互联网内容的?第二,你认为自己未成年孩子不能看的内容就应该删除?网站就应该关闭?难道全中国人民都不能看?哪怕那内容是《宪法》保障我们看、《刑法》不禁止我们看的内容?

First of all, who gives you the authority to “rate” the Internet content? Secondly, do you think what is unsuitable for your kids should be deleted? and those websites should be closed? Should they be banned from all the Chinese people? Even if the contents are protected by our “constitution” and not prohibited by “Criminal Law”?

让我们进一步发挥所谓“孩子利益优先”的原则,既然你们用这个原则来治理整顿虚拟的互联网,那么我有理由质问你们:为什么不用这种方式对付更多孩子们生活其中的真实社会

Let's elaborate on the principle of “children's interest come first”. If you adopt such principle to run the Internet, why don't you apply such principle to govern the real world where our children live?

你 可以限制自己的孩子上互联网,但你不能以“儿童利益优先”的名义把互联网变成一个只适合你孩子的学习园地和迪斯尼乐园,那是违反《宪法》也违反人性的。……当我们把互联网和社会 变成只适合儿童的时候,儿童不但不会成长,而且,我们成人也会变成“儿童”……

You can restrict your children from going online, but you cannot turn the Internet into a kindergarten or disneyland under the principle of “Children's interest comes first”… It is against the constitution and against the humanity. If we turn the Internet and the society into something that “suitable” for the children, our children would not grow up, and our adult would turn into “children”….

Hu Yong elaborates on Yang's argument:

政府的这一举措明显是要“花季护航”全国人民,把自己摆在为人家长的位置上…    “深入整治低俗”是一场无情的运动,不知有多少网站在去冬今春的寒风中哀号,然而,妈妈们在运动中的出现不仅为之涂上了一层温情色彩,似乎也赋予其更多的正当性。这是因为,妈妈们竖起的大旗是“保护未成年人”,占据了社会道德的制高点。

It is obvious that the government is trying to “escorted” the whole country by positioning itself as the “parent”… The anti-vulgarity campaign is very harsh and many websites are tormenting in the cold winter. However, having the mothers holding the moral flag of “protecting the children” would help legitimating the campaign.

To many concerned citizens, “Children's interest comes first” is a mere hypocritical political slogan to censor the Internet. When confronted with real issues, such as the melamine poisonous milk scandal, the government is not on the side of the parent and children. Chang Ping points out that the father, Zhao Lianhai, who investigated on the melamine poisonous milk incident was arrested in November 2009. Chang Ping resents why all these pro-censorship mothers who claimed that they loved their children did not step out to support Zhao? And more ironically, the former head of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), Li Changchun, who resigned after the poisonous milk scandal, has recently been appointed as the vice head of the working team against pornographic and illegal information.

Laotuzaizi echoes with Chang Ping's comment and suggests that the government should opened itself to the monitoring of “mothers”:

何不将“妈妈评审团”改为“妈妈官员监督团”派下去,派到卫生部、质检总局、工商总局,让她们去像监管网民那样监管部长局长处长那些当官的,准管用。别不放心,老秦不跟你们争权夺利,“妈妈官员监督团”可由全国妇联代行管理。

“妈妈官员监督团”完全可以请些下岗女工、家庭妇女,还能解决不少就业问题。“妈妈官员监督团”比起成立国务院食品安全委员会要更省钱,更实用,更解决问题。一物降一物,官员怕民妇。

Why don't we change the Mama Jury into Mama for Government Monitor. Let's send our mothers to the Ministry of Health, AQSIQ, the State Administration of Industry & Commerce. Let them monitor the head of department, bureau and office like the way they monitor the netizens. It would definitely work. Don't worry, I won't compete power with you. Let the mothers be under the supervision of the National Federation of Women.

You can hire the laid-off woman workers, housewives to the Mother Monitor team. It can solve a lot of employment problem. It is more economical and practical than setting up the State Council Food Safety Commission. Every kind of being has its natural enemy. Chinese government officials are naturally fearful of ordinary women.

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