Saturday, February 7, 2009

When idiots run asylum

Once upon a time, when we were young and restless - yes we did - we would touch upon these unpleasant political topics. My roommates would refer to Chinese intolerance, extreme in times like cultural revolution, as "asylum".

I had a slightly different take. "Asylum isn't that bad", I would inject my comments, "Asylum actually has its own rules. It depends on who is running it. It only gets that much worse when idiots, or inmates are running it."

That was a distant memory.

Then, when a friend talked about forming a group on Doudan, a Chinese social network, my reaction was that I would only form a group if it was about "the more you read, the more counter-revolutionary you become."

The phrase that later became the group title was an actually phrase from the Cultural Revolution. It was used as my contempt for Douban, and that unduly adulation of an "educated person". "Counter-revolution" was, of course, a word long buried in the history book. No one actually use it in everyday life, except, maybe, to jeer. My tenet of the group was that too much reading wasn't always desirable, it would stymie your original thinking, especially if you half-understand half-cooked ideas or facts. (In fact, that's my understanding of the original intent of the slogan.)

It was never an active group - as lazy as I am, you can always expect that. If I remember it correctly, the longest thread in the group was about "what would you request your daughter to read or not to read", with about 15 replies.

Fast forward to today. I got an email, informing me that the group was dismembered due to "violation of related laws and regulations". I believe it was due to Douban's voluntary compliance of internet censorship. Frankly, although not that I care, I can't quite make out what regulation it specifically violates. But the incident does reminds me of the conversation about asylum we had many many years ago.

I can't pinpoint whether the group was dismembered because of the asylum, or who runs it. But I would like to think I had a point.

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