Thursday, 10 July 2014

Take Down

It's my second day here and I already think I've done a bad thing.

The place I'm working is - there is no other way to put it - beautiful. It's a mixture of pre-Victorian restored architecture and ultra-nouveau art deco style rooms with slogans, illustrations and posters dotting the walls. Whoever knocked the latter building up - and that;s the one in which I'm working - evidently knew their stuff. I am impressed.

That is to say that I would be impressed if somebody hadn't stuck a pro-abstinence poster on the corridor wall.

I didn't notice it at first, to be fair. I thought, to be honest, that it was promoting safe sex. It did say "SAFE SEX?" in big letters, with a number of Bish-style cartoon figures in a bed having innocent conversations. But the more I looked, the more I became suspicious... and then the more suspicious I got, the more obvious the poster's bias was.

And then I saw the text underneath the central image.

Save sex for marriage. It makes sense.

I wasn't angry. I certainly wasn't enraged. I was just confused. I'm aware some people have this view (although I never have); I'm also aware that it can be a relatively popular one. I can even see the reason behind it if I think for a large amount of time. It just... well... the poster has no place in such a public setting.

I'm surprised by it, even more so, because I wasn't aware that Britain - even here in Somerset - has this sort of abstinence campaign. We've heard plenty of stories about the one prevailing in American teen culture - the purity rings worn by the Jonas brothers and Family Guy lampooning it in their unique way - but I just didn't think we'd have that sort of thing in Britain.

The worst thing is that this building isn't only used by us. It's also a byway for plenty of people working in the rooms, including teenagers, who are going to pass this poster daily and may be at risk of taking in this ludicrous message, which although seems harmless as it's just an opinion, uses the statement "it makes sense"; essentially, "the above opinion is the correct one." It's one step away from saying "sex is dirty and disgusting, and only married men and women should have it and then only to have children." Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but I'm assuming the company that produced this poster takes that sort of view.

In any case, there's definitely no promotion here of safe sex. There's promotion here of no sex. And no sex until marriage in this case is unsafe sex anyway, as you probably haven't been taught about it if people are going to make you wait to learn about birds vs. bees until you're 21 or so.

So I removed it.

I waited until nobody was looking, and then I walked up to the wall, detached the poster, folded it up and hid it in a folder somewhere in my room.

I don't know if this is a wrong thing or not. I definitely felt like I absolutely 100% had to do something, and there was no point in taking a stand as there's nobody there to rally against, so a bit of direct action seemed necessary - I'm not even sure than anybody noticed. Nobody's mentioned it if they have.

But if, in my act of tiny rebellion, I have saved one impressionable teenager from believing that sex is an ungodly, dirty act that is totally not allowed at all unless you are straight and married, then I will have done my job properly. And, in that case, I will have done the right thing after all.


Anonymous said...

"My current campaign is against censorship, something I've been against for years, but has come more into prominence in recent years, due to... reasons." -- ILB, Monday 23 December 2013.

You, sir, are a fucking hypocrite.

Innocent Loverboy said...

Am I a hypocrite? Really? Don't you think that's a bit harsh?

I see your point, though, insofar as I was effectively removing information from the public; to be fair, there wasn't actually much information that I was removing. A picture and a sentence with no rationale to back it up.

In all honesty, I would have left the poster there if it had had anything on it like explanation or reasons for its claims - surely the foundation for any good argument? - but no, nothing. Not even a Bible quote. So, if it was censorship, it was censorship of a poorly-argued statement, which I disagreed with. Almost found insulting.


I see where you're coming from, and I do plan to return it when I'm finished here. I didn't actually destroy it and I left it in a drawer in a desk nearby, so if anyone wants to put it back, they can.

I don't see the point, considering how there are much better sexual health posters out there to use, but hey, it's an opinion. It's just not a very good one, that's all.

Anonymous said...

Yes, what you did is censorship. You silenced an entity's right to express its opinion.

If you removed the poster because you disagree with it, because you found it poorly reasoned or because you found it offensive then well done, you're even using the same arguments used by every other censor in the world.

Innocent Loverboy said...

Again I see where you are coming from.

In most situations I would challenge an opinion I don't agree with. In this situation, the most effective way to do this would be to stick up another poster beside it with a contrasting message - "safe sex is more important than waiting until marriage," that sort of thing - allowing people viewing both to make up their own minds.

But I'm not authorised to do that. My actions are limited and doing so would put me at risk, so in effect, I am being censored myself.

I mentioned it here because there's nowhere else I could mention what was, in effect, quite a small action. I wasn't going to announce it to my colleagues because:

a) I'm sure they hadn't noticed it anyway
b) It might put my new job at risk

And it gave me something to blog about too.