Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Please Sink the Censor Ship

It was a rough night on the Burning Life Playa tonight.

There has been no shortage of tension within the Burner community as this year's burn has unfolded. There has been the usual confusion and miscommunication associated with any large community endeavor, and there are a group of passionates that raise the level of intensity around sometimes even the smallest issue, but tonight's misstep by the Burning Life directorship could not go unnoticed and unchallenged.

A red marble sculpture of a woman standing under a shower of water by artist Cheen Pitney entitled "WATER IS LIFE", was placed on Burning Life (Zara) 64, 238 - a designated PG area. Apparently the piece was deemed inappropriate per the Terms of Service by Burning Life Director Vicero Lambert. While this decision alone will be questioned for a very long time, the next one was truly a fatal miscalculation.

Instead of boldly upholding the TOS he argued were violated as well as the "rules" for Burning Life and returning the build, Vicero chose to "censor" the art work by placing large black boxes over the marble breasts and pelvis. When questioned about this approach, his response that he was merely responding to direct orders from Linden Lab, namely Iridium Linden.

Unfortunately, although not unexpectedly, Iridium was not in world, nor was he replying swiftly to IMs about the issue.

The giant statue adorned with the black "CENSORED THIS IS A PG SIM" boxes stood to taunt Burners, artists, and especially those that have up to now been less than happy with the leadership, alike. And whether intended or not, it did present as a heavy-handed abuse of power via humiliation and in the context of Burning Life, this was possibly more offensive.

A number of subsequent events unfolded, much of which would be speculative on my part as I arrived on the scene right as the argument was loud, heated and pointed squarely at Vicero Lambert and Poid Mahovlich. In the midst of the jeering, pontificating and piling on a plan was devised to ask the artist to move the work to an available mature plot, at least until the matter could be addressed with the Lindens.

This would have been fine plan had it been executed swiftly, but unfortunately the art stood defiled for a lengthy time, and the crowd continued to broil and add their own viewpoint (ironically further defiling the piece).

From all perspectives, this is a most frustrating situation. Linden wants to operate laissez-faire, but does not give appear to relent complete control (if Vicero's story holds true), so there is this uneasy feeling of duality. Anyone that takes on the yoke of leading a community event is heavily scrutinized, have to submit to whatever rules LL chooses to lay out, thereby losing whatever authority to equla the responsibility that may come.

In the end, I just hope this does lead to a knee-jerk reaction that shuts down Burning Life. DrFran, Dedric and I have a mean green plan!
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