Fearful Virgin over-protects modesty

This not a story about a nervous and excessively prudish maiden. It is about the mildly amusing consequences of trying to make your software just a little bit too clever for its own good, and aiming to be the blandest on the block.

Virgin Media has, along with most media outlets, decided to try and adopt a zero tolerance approach to offending its customers. This approach – if you ask me – is an affront to free speech, and patronising in the extreme. But, hey, they didn’t start it and this time, at least, it turned in to quite a good joke.

They built a ‘profanity checker’ for their EPG and I’m guessing they constructed it from an illiberal mix of political correctness, imported religious oversensitivity, Victorian family values and fear.

The result was as you might expect: No Arse in Arsenal, no cock in Hancock. Even Charles Dickens lost his Dick. The company said the problem was fixed after being thoroughly ‘an*lysed.’

Here’s a tip: switch it off. The notion that if one or two people (or 20,000 who’ve never even seen the ‘offending’ item but join in anyway once it has been twitered around the world), claim to be offended means, ipso facto, the item is offensive, is absurd, wrong and – needless to say – ‘offensive’ to common sense and freedom of expression.

 

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