JMS on CompuServe (Feb 28, 1997) *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

bbarrett at bbarrett at
Fri Feb 28 18:38:25 EST 1997

 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WARNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 The following posts may contain SPOILERS for
 upcoming Babylon 5 episodes.

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 [ Summary of subjects in this section: ]
    Sb: #651911-<Epiphanies>
    Sb: #651914-#Illusion of Truth
    Sb: #651919-pen names
    Sb: #651921-#To Sysops from jms
    Sb: #652022-To Sysops from jms
    Sb: #652038-To Sysops from jms
    Sb: #652022-#To Sysops from jms
    Sb: #652111-To Sysops from jms
    Sb: #651974-Clarion
    Sb: #652202-TNT Movies Prod Question

 [ Summary: Asks why some actors seem to always be in SF productions.
   Is it because they're typecast or because they like it? ]

 #: 651961 S6/Babylon 5: Spoilers
    27-Feb-97  12:56:35
Sb: #651911-<Epiphanies>

       Dunno...the ways of actors are like unto god, and transcend all


 #: 651914 S6/Babylon 5: Spoilers
    27-Feb-97  09:54:58
Sb: #Illusion of Truth


Over the past 3+ years my routine has always been to tape every episode, then
later I rewatch it at least a couple of times.  I find this necessary as you
layer so much content into 43 minutes that it is sometimes difficult to really
absorb it all in one viewing.  (sometimes it takes several).

 Anyway, I find that I just can't bring myself to watch this episode again.
It's just too painful.  I of course studied the whole McCarthy era as part of
US history, black listing, communists, etc., the propaganda machines, even
seeing how today the press can slant news to support their views, but didn't
fully understand just how much hurt there can be until I saw it happening to
people I actually care about.  Just how painful was this for you as a writer to
write about?  Have you or someone you cared about been treated this way?


 #: 651962 S6/Babylon 5: Spoilers
    27-Feb-97  12:56:36
Sb: #651914-#Illusion of Truth

       It was most definitely difficult and painful for me to write.  I am as
much involved with these characters as anyone else, and doing this kind of
thing to them is hard.  And you have to put yourself in the minds of those
doing this, and that's a dark place to be.

       And yeah, I know people who were harmed in the blacklist, and I've seen
others, and myself, sometimes harmed by those who like to twist things around
to their own benefit.


 [ Summary: Asks about the "V" script that JMS wrote. ]

 #: 651963 S5/Babylon 5: General
    27-Feb-97  12:56:37
Sb: #651919-pen names

       I was hired by WB to write the 4 hour miniseries that never got
produced, to revive the show, because it would've been too costly for


 [ Summary: Apologizes for being the cause of the censorship hassle (he
   wasn't, trust me). ]

 #: 651964 S5/Babylon 5: General
    27-Feb-97  12:56:39
Sb: #651921-#To Sysops from jms

       It ain't just's also Tom Knudsen and Stephen Smith and others
who have had this difficulty lately.


 [ Summary: One of the SFMEDIA Forum WizOps (contract signers with CIS) 
   responds to JMS about censorship.  I can't reproduce it, because I don't
   have permission from him yet. Basically, he points JMS to the CIS rules
   about Forum content and says, in essence, "We're just following 
   orders." ]

 #: 652158 S5/Babylon 5: General
    28-Feb-97  02:03:25
Sb: #652022-To Sysops from jms

||Pictures or text exposing extreme cruelty, physical or emotional acts against
any animal or person which are primarily intended to hurt or inflict pain.
Obscene words, phrases, and profanity defined as text that uses, but not
limited to, George Carlin's 7 censored words more often than once every 50
messages (newsgroups) or once a page (web sites).||

      Well, then you have an immediate probelm here, Wes.  The deletion in
question seemed to occur after only ONE appearance.  The rule stipulates "more
often than once every 50 messsages."  If you are strictly adhering to this
rule, then it stands to reason that you have the statistics to back it up.
Otherwise how can you enforce it?

      So it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate that the use of one word
occured more than once in every 50 messsages.  Please show me the stats you
used to verify this position.  Otherwise it is random, capricious, and in
direct violation of the rules you say you are following.  Because by inference,
removing messages that contain words such as the one you note LESS than every
50 messages is a VIOLATION of CIS rules...and since only you have the access to
the full stats on this system, it is now incumbent upon you to demonstrate
whether or not you are in adherence to, or violation of, CIS rules.

"As you can see, Joe, we really have NO CHOICE but to adhere to the "Carlin's
7" list of forbidden words (and "but not limited to")."

      Except, of course, that Carlin's list of Words You Can't Say On
Television is no longer applicable, because many of the words he said you
couldn't say back in the 1960s and 70s *can* be said NOW on TV.  So the rule
itself is irrelevant.  Even Carlin himself has said so...I was watching one of
his HBO specials yesterday, and he his own self noted that the list was no
longer accurate, and he had to revise it upward to include new and more
interesting words (which he enumerated at great length).

      Since CIS seems to be looking to a comedian to define its rules on
language -- odd since I can't ever remember a Supreme Court decision favoring
the Comedian Rule in examining issues of censorship -- then if Carlin himself
has stated that the rule no longer applies, then why does CIS not recognize
this?  If Carlin's word was good enough to make the rule, why is it not good
enough to UNmake the rule?

      Additionally, the argument falls apart on the basic principles of
language itself.  The word Carlin offered, another word for urine, is not the
same word as "pissed.  The latter refers to anger, and has nothing whatsoever
to do with bodily fluids of any form.  It's spelled the same, but IT'S NOT THE
SAME WORD, WES.  It's like *heat* and *heat*.  They're both spelled the same,
but one is a unit of temperature, and the other is a term used in racing for a
match between several cars.  So you're in the unlikely position of deleting a
message for using a word that LOOKS like a word you supposedly can't say, but
ISN'T the same word, wasn't intended as the same word, and doesn't mean the
same thing within context.

      From a simple, grammatical perspective, it isn't ON Carlin's (now
defunct) list because it isn't one of those words.

"You don't like it.  We don't like it. Perhaps it isn't an exact parallel, but
wouldn't you do something similar to avoid Babylon 5 becoming rated "R"?"

      I used language that I knew would get us a more restrictive TV rating
just two weeks ago.  Also, there is no R rating in TV.  The highest you can go
is TV-M.  Which was the category under which Schindler's List was just
broadcast...which received praise from members of Congress (all but one), and
was upheld by every conceivable standard even though it featured full frontal
nudity.  If I felt it had sufficient merit, I'd be willing to go for a TV-M. If
it's good enough for Spielberg and Congress, sure, it's good enough for me.

"Members of these forums are welcome to ask about our policies and, even, to
question them.  However, such messages are considered to be between the sender
and the senior staff of this forum and are not subject to open debate."

      So in other words, the discussions people would need to determine what
they should and should not say are closed off from the people so that they
cannot see those discussions and thus cannot know when they offend, or why, or
what recourse they may have.  "not subject to open debate" is another way of
saying "not subject to open *dissemination*."  Sure, you can't do an offensive
thing if everybody knows about you make sure the discussions of it all
take place in utter privacy.

      Every user here is DIRECTLY AND PERSONALLY affected by CIS's policies on
language and message content.  So how, then, can discussions of these policies
be excluded from the users?  Logically, you *want* users here to know what the
rules are, so that they understand them, and thus you don't have to enforce
policies that seem arbitrary and blindside people.  Therefore the logic of "not
subject to open debate" falls apart on the face of it; the line stems from the
corporate arrogance that says, "We cannot be questioned, and we will not be
held accountable.  Only YOU can be held accountable."

"As an example, in your role as sole producer/creator of Babylon 5, would you
tolerate the viewers of your program voicing their opinions of its direction
while you were producing it?  Such would be distracting to the cast and crew
and would be something best held in privacy between those concerned and

      Well, in point of fact, every day I'm online, I hear from the thousands
of people online who express their opinions of the direction of B5 while we're
making it.  That's kinda why I'm HERE.

      Secondarily, the purpose of message boards is DISCUSSION.  The purpose of
a TV studio is to make a show.  Two different creatures.  Which puts you in the
position of, "The message boards are for the purpose of users expressing their
opinions EXCEPT when the messages are ABOUT expressing their opinions, in which
case they cannot express their opinions."

      Every argument you have presented is either fallacious, unprovable,
involve mass exercises in paralogia, or come down to the basic bottom line,
"Because I *said* so, that's why!"

      It doesn't hold up, Wes.


 [ Summary: Asks for permission to use JMS' censorship post in another Forum
   where the same thing is happening. ]

 #: 652159 S5/Babylon 5: General
    28-Feb-97  02:03:28
Sb: #652038-To Sysops from jms

      You may want to check my response to Wes, just posted in this thread, and
add that to the collection.


 #: 652160 S5/Babylon 5: General
    28-Feb-97  02:22:13
Sb: #652022-#To Sysops from jms

      Oh, I forgot this one....

"But if it is our goal to stay off the Parental Control list and therefore
allow children to access discussions relating to topics in this forum, then we
must make every effort to adhere to its restrictions."

      So to avoid restricting children, we will restrict the adults.  In a
forum where intelligent discourse is the goal, I'm not sure I perceive the
wisdom in this.

      And if the discussions are hobbled, what benefit is there in guaranteeing
access to conversations that are inhibited?

      How many children -- and define children here -- use this forum?  I very,
very rarely see them here.  Are you restricting several thousand adults for the
benefit of 3 children?

      All of which is, of course, secondary to issue raised before...are you
actually keeping to the letter of the rules by numerical content, or are you
not?  If you are, then please show us your math.


 [ Summary:  ]
 #: 652111 S5/Babylon 5: General
    27-Feb-97  20:45:56
Sb: #652088-#To Sysops from jms


fwiw, Carlin's Dirty Words routine is kinda widespread and cites what the FCC
considers to be foul language.

CIS policy is based on FCC policy, which hasn't changed in a very long time.


 #: 652161 S5/Babylon 5: General
    28-Feb-97  02:22:15
Sb: #652111-To Sysops from jms

      Actually, the FCC does not define foul language in the fashion you
indicate, not in over 20 years.  And it does allow the broadcasting of ALL the
words on Carlin's "list" under certain circumstances.  (This from my having
worked for 5 years at a Pacificia radio station, which kept us apprised of such
rules.)  They don't tell you any longer what words not to say...they just wait
until an accumulation hits.  And there is the 12:00 midnighr rule, which allows
virtually everything and anything to be said, as was the rule at many Pacifica

      So, basically, it should be okay to read messages here with language in
them after midnight....


 #: 651974 S5/Babylon 5: General
    27-Feb-97  13:49:13
Sb: #Clarion

What do you and Kathryn  think of the Clarion workshops? Useful? Traumatic?
Both? Would she do it again?

                                Jean McKnight

 #: 652266 S5/Babylon 5: General
    28-Feb-97  12:41:58
Sb: #651974-Clarion

       I didn't go through Clarion, so I really can't comment, and would not
presume to characterize another's opinions.


 [ Summary: Will the filming of the TNT movies interfere with con 
   appearances? ]

 #: 652269 S5/Babylon 5: General
    28-Feb-97  12:48:57
Sb: #652202-TNT Movies Prod Question

       No, it doesn't affect the Wolf con, as we'll be finished shooting by
June 30th.


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