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Chinese Social Media Site Reverses Gay Content Ban After Uproar (nytimes.com)
98 points by raleighm 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments



> Even People’s Daily, a state-run newspaper, published an article online that included veiled criticism of Weibo’s announcement. The article said that being gay or bisexual was “not a disease,” but it added that gay people needed to “take on their own social responsibilities while advocating their rights.”

I think this [1] is the People's Daily article referenced. If so, the quoted language has been scrubbed.

[1] http://en.people.cn/n3/2018/0416/c90000-9449771.html


[1] says it is from Global Times (which is like a sidekick of People's Daily)

People's Daily [2]. Not sure if it has an English translation.

[2] https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/DvQGVmHrgn_yfVCg-2xYAA


I was in Fujian, China, two weeks ago and did a Bing web/image search for ‘gay men’ (unrelated to any of this news).

Zero results returned, and a standard note about violent and sexually explicit content being censored.

Thought that was odd.


Did you try to search for "straight men"?

If there is no sexual content in the photo, what would be the difference in a picture of a gay or straight man? They would look the same.

By specifying sexual orientation you are by definition requesting sexual content.


There's a difference between the very literal definition of "sexual content" that you mention and the notion of "sexually explicit content" that the person you're replying to mentioned.


Or it could bring up pictures of Tim Cook, Anderson Cooper, or any other gay men.


That's like saying if I search for "chef" I am asking for pictures of food. The two things may be strongly linked, but that doesn't mean that one requires the other.


Two men holding hands would, in my opinion, qualify as a depiction of presumably gay men, while being free of sexual content.

(though it's culture-dependent. I heard that in some Arab countries it's common for straight men to hold hands between friends)


>Two men holding hands

In many countries this is not considered gay. (Saudi Arabia comes to mind)


It's heartening to see that the Chinese public will not stand for homophobia. Countries that look to China as a model (looking at you Russia) should take note.


I don’t think Russia sees China as a model.


Is there a way to oppose homophobia while still upholding family values (eg: eschew promiscuity and instead take one partner for life)?


They're two entirely orthogonal issues. You can find homophobia repellent, and believe that promiscuity is bad, and there's nothing stopping that. Why would there be?


Every person that advocates for gay rights abjectly refuses on a basic level to find promiscuity bad. Until these mythical people form the majority of gay rights advocates, homosexuality will continue to be regarded as dangerous to harmonious society.


That’s just not true for several reasons.

First off, your statement is false. There are quite literally millions of people globally who both support gay rights and do not think promiscuity is good. You might be confusing “finding promiscuity bad” with “condemning promiscuity”, which are obviously two distinct concepts. Even if they were considered the same, it’s still obviously not true.

Second, it’s clear that—generally speaking—developed western societies no longer “regard homosexuality as dangerous to harmonious society”. Otherwise there would obviously not be widespread support for same-sex marriage. That feeling isn’t universal yet, but it’s unlikely to be terribly long until society generally stops worrying about it.


> Every person that advocates for gay rights abjectly refuses on a basic level to find promiscuity bad.

Why should they even consider it? Their opponents usually dishonestly represent homosexuality as one of the worst forms of promiscuity (by the volume of their concerns, worse than nymphomania, cheating, pedophilia, fetish addiction, polygamy, etc.).

The answer to promiscuity is 1. Non of your business, 2. education.


Generalizing the gay club scene to all gay people is like generalizing Panama City Spring Break to all straight people.


To be quite honest, it is accurate. Show me a homosexual that decries promiscuous lifestyles and drug use and I will show you a unicorn. Show me a person that advocates for gay rights while decrying promiscuity and I will show you ten unicorns.


I can count 5 of my friends in the former category, and 6 in the latter, just off the top of my head.

Do you have many gay friends?


Hey, just made an account to say I'm one of those, and I have several gay friends who are in the same ship. Gay men being promiscuous is just a shitty stereotype that's as baseless as it is persistent

How about you take a look at any of the studies that have debunked it?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1783788


Why should I care about looking respectable to a bunch of bible-thumpers who've spent the last decades loudly screaming about how much they hate me and everyone like me?


Homosexuality and promiscuity are closely intertwined, my argument is that they must be disentangled for homosexuality to be generally acceptable.

More to the point, a homosexual that adheres to traditional family values (ie: one partner for life, moderate sobriety, responsible adult) is much more appealing than one that exists outside of traditional family values (ie: promiscuous, heavy drug and alcohol use, other irresponsible behavior). In this instance (and numerous others), the basis of opposition to homosexuality is that acceptance invites degeneracy and destruction of harmonious society.


Ignoring the shameless use of numerous bigoted stereotypes...

> Homosexuality and promiscuity are closely intertwined, my argument is that they must be disentangled for homosexuality to be generally acceptable.

So why don't you quit entangling them? The only reason homosexuality and sex positivity are entangled is because of the thousands of years of murdering homosexuals, oppression of women, oppression of polyamorous, etc.. the thing they have in common seems to be a series of hateful bedroom laws enacted by a wannabe theocracy.


So you've never had premarital sex?

Do you think a majority of Americans have not had premarital sex?

The average American has 7.2 sexual partners over their lifetime. [1]

1. https://www.refinery29.com/2017/08/169555/average-numbers-se...


Western media intends to portrait "china" as one single top-down entity, but as a matter of fact it's not.

There are thousands of bureaucratic federal or local government branches can start an Internet crackdown.

The whole "anti-gay" nonscence might came from a office clerk smashing his head for April KPI campaigns and baidu'd for random shit to block and passed through the chain of command. That's it.


> Western media intends to portrait "china" as one single top-down entity, but as a matter of fact it's not.

Are you saying this article does that? I don't see anything in it that does. Can you quote me anything in it that does?

> There are thousands of bureaucratic federal or local government branches can start an Internet crackdown.

You seem to be wanting to imply that this precludes the existence of attempts that come from a higher level.


> precludes the existence of attempts that come from a higher level

They do exist, but 80% cases you see online is not. There's big rule is 属地原则 which topics online must be traced back to its geographical local agency to manage. Actions taken by central government exists but just rare. e.g. 严打.


Your post contains Chinese that most people here cannot read. Care to explain?


That doesn't really make it better.


In fact i'd say it makes it worse.


Another fun fact: censorship is a business in China.

Profitable, lucrative, serious business. Every branch of government want its own little kill-switch button. e.g. 舆情系统. Lobbyist plays a key roll in all this.


Isn't it the robustness of distributed power rather than the benign dictatorship that turns ugly due to too much centralized power during leadership changes?


Censor criticism of the regime? Meh.

Censor muscle daddies and slash fic? To the streets!


I'm sure more people would protest the former if doing so didn't have the repercussions it has.



Where in the article does it say that Weibo is backing down?

All it seems to say is "backlash happened".


Heh, the article actually really didn't say it. I was thinking maybe you just didn't read it carefully. Here are articles that explicitly say it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/world/asia/china-weibo-ga...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/16/china-weibo-ba...


Agreed. We changed the title to that of the actual article. Submitted title was "China's Weibo backs down from censoring gay content following backlash".

Submitters: rewriting titles like that is a violation of the site guidelines. If the facts have changed since the article was written, you can explain that by posting a comment about it to the thread, or by finding a more up-to-date article and submitting that.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


See my other reply, there are articles that explicitly say that it actually happened. See other reply for links. Perhaps change the link instead?


Ok, we've changed the URL from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/15/world/asia/china-gay-ban-.... Thanks!


I thought people on HN weren’t supposed to change the headlines? The NYT headline is completely different and contains nothing saying that Weibo was backing down. Is HN just another fake China apologist now when it comes to changing headlines?


We've changed the title. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16855849.

On another note: a username of the form "recognizable_person_is_evil" crosses into personal attack, which isn't allowed on HN. You may not owe better to billionaires, but you owe better to this community than to break its rules with every post. So I've banned this account. Account renaming, which we'll have soon, would be a more elegant solution, but it's not ready yet.


> Account renaming, which we'll have soon, would be a more elegant solution, but it's not ready yet.

That's awesome! Years ago the suggested solution was to create a new account, which I didn't want to do. I'm quite happy there's a nicer solution now.


Soon :)


Incidents like this are starting to make me feel that software engineers should have a code of ethics, similar to the Hippocratic Oath. So technologies aren't abused to marginalize individuals/groups.


You have to be careful with this. Ethics can also be used to discriminate against people for religious reasons. These people think they are as ethical as you think you are.


All discrimination already is doing this, just indirectly. There's always an implication. The major one in the US is that harder working people are ethically better than lazy people. This combined with the belief that hard work equals success allows for very easy punishment based mindsets to spread.


I don't really understand this mindset. Are we supposed to treat people like there's absolutely no right or wrong way to live? How are we supposed to have a stable society when there are no standards by which to live by or strive for? Why shouldn't we discriminate against bad behavior and provide positive feedback for good behavior?


Sadly, yes. These days you cannot judge anyone by your own ethical standards, only by their own. There is no right and wrong, only consistency and hypocrisy.


That's what laws are for. They set acceptable standards. Everything else is personal taste.


> Are we supposed to treat people like there's absolutely no right or wrong way to live?

Yes. Modern society says that as long as your actions don't harm me, you should be able to do what you wish.

There are some edge-cases, caveats, and exceptions - but that is the essence of modern liberalism.

> How are we supposed to have a stable society when there are no standards by which to live

You are assuming stability is a good thing. Progress is made through instability.

You also assume that stability occurred back when society had standards. A quick look through history doesn't show any evidence of that.

You also assume that stability doesn't harm people. It clearly does. When a society says no deviation is acceptable, the deviants are punished for the "crime" of existing.

> Why shouldn't we discriminate against bad behavior and provide positive feedback for good behavior?

Who decides what is good behaviour and what is bad? Allowing women to receive an education was considered bad behaviour in many societies. But society changes.

Why should my behaviour be punished if it doesn't hurt anyone? Who I love is none of your concern.


> Modern society says that as long as your actions don't harm me, you should be able to do what you wish.

No, modern law may strive for this ideal, but society doesn't. Society itself has a social aspect that goes beyond some modern liberalistic ideal. Since people are social and tribal, society will always have standards by which we live by. For example, people walking down the street naked will always be interpreted as crazy, regardless of any harm committed against other people.

> Progress is made through instability.

This depends entirely upon your definition of "progress." I personally don't think of the complete degradation of social standards as a good thing.

> You also assume that stability doesn't harm people. It clearly does.

Real life has winners and losers. Life is a system of inputs and outputs, and social pressure guides people into frameworks that lead to productive behavior in our society. Can they be taken too far? Sure. That, however, does not mean that _all_ social pressures are bad. For example, if a person is shamed for constant novelty-seeking through drinking, partying, and obnoxious behavior, a sense of shame may guide them into a mindset that allows for longer-term planning and goal seeking instead.


That's a pretty vague objection

I mean sure someone can say this but you can build an ethical existence around things that we believe to be right.

This will exclude certain people. For example it might exclude arms manufacturers. It might exclude the Weinsteins of the world. But that's the point!

If your ethical standard doesn't exclude behavior it's hard for it to have much teeth


It's hard to define an ethical standard. For some it's unethical to discriminate against gay people whereas for others being gay is unethical.

As far tech goes I think best would be to follow Stallmann's ethics. They are directly relevant to our work.


>It's hard to define an ethical standard.

This is nonsense. Attorneys, doctors, accountants, and other professions have long had ethical codes. This isn't some impossible task, programmers just don't want the responsibility.


These groups have ethical standards that are directly related to their work. So as tech people we should have standards for our line of work. Again, let's look at Stallmann.


The Hippocratic oath is not based on religion how would you discriminate against "religion"


I am worried about people discriminating because of religion not against.


A code of ethics: https://www.acm.org/about-acm/acm-code-of-ethics-and-profess...

Just its existence is not enough to guarantee that anyone knows or cares about it.



Not to put a damper on things, but it's not like the Hippocratic oath means anything as attested by[1]. It's only good if people heed it, otherwise it's meaningless.

[1]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_harvesting_from_Falun_...


Although the Hippocratic oath has no teeth, or real enforcement. Hopefully popularizing a code of ethics, helps move the needle toward a better direction.


How do you reconcile a code of ethics with progressive supremacists that assert dominance is necessary for society to move forward?


Nuclear weapons simulations, drone AI, smart bombs - all good. But don't you dare abuse a marginalized group!


> Nuclear weapons simulations, drone AI, smart bombs - all good.

Recent history continually shows that advances in military technology causes improvements in combatant/non-combatant casualty ratio. The smarter the bombs and missiles are, the less civilians they kill. Also, operators who only risk drones and not their own lives aren't nearly as trigger happy as pilots. And finally, a conflict between two countries is always more prolonged and bloody when the gap between their technological development and military prowess is smaller. Not to mention that MAD doctrine have prevented cold war from going hot.

So yes, working on all these technologies helps you mention helps humanity and saves lives.


> Nuclear weapons simulations, drone AI, smart bombs - all good.

Why are you assuming people's positions on those topics? I've seen people bring them up.


Mostly because there are way more programmers working on weaponry of every possible kind than oppressing minorities, and you could say it causes way more harm and suffering.

Also, unlike doctors, who are explicitly trusted with human health, programmers are not in any way different from anybody else and it's silly to try to impose a special moral code on them.


Fewer people die in wars today than at any point in the 20th century. As a trend, people dying from war related causes has been on a seriously downward trend.

There's an argument to be made that modern weapons help keep the peace, exactly like MAD did between the USSR and USA.


None of that has to do with your original comment ("Nuclear weapons simulations, drone AI, smart bombs - all good. But don't you dare abuse a marginalized group!") and what I objected to in it.


He's saying there are more important things in the world to worry about. In what way did you read it?


They said "Nuclear weapons simulations, drone AI, smart bombs - all good. But don't you dare abuse a marginalized group!" which is specially saying that people don't care about these matters for the first set of issues (which is an assumption about the person they were replying to, and an incorrect blanket statement about people in general) and also specifically implying that the only reason people cared in this case was because it involves a marginalised group (which is also an assumption that they didn't attempt to back up with evidence).


We can oppose marginalizing people and oppose killing people at the same time. Your comment is a good example of whataboutism.


Your oath won't do you any good when you're fired. There's always plenty of talent ready to step up and do the job you would not do.


Code of ethics does not matter in an authoritarian state which will dictate what your ethics are to be.


That's what happens when you use a centralized service, especially if it's state approved.


Is it though? Does it happen in a centralised system in any democratic country? I feel you are letting them off the hook in a sense, centralisation != censorship, often it seems with western services the centralised system providers fight against censorship.


Yes. Listings are removed from Google, Bing etc all of the time. Recently, a subreddit dedicated to sharing beer was removed from Reddit. Youtube recently banned certain gun-related videos [1] on its platform.

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43500714


I don’t know how you can link to an article about banning killing machine video content as a comparison to banning gay content with a straight face.

This is an example of YouTube taking positive social responsibility which is fantastic. And no, “positive” is not subjective in this case at at all.


You asked for an example, then moved goalposts once given one.


> I don’t know how you can link to an article about banning killing machine video content as a comparison to banning gay content with a straight face.

Many Americans value their first and second amendment rights. PS I'm gay.

Google, Twitter and friends also censor Islamic fundamentalist content and discussion, along with other subversives.

Subreddits about drug use are removed often. Talking about using drugs isn't a crime.


Centralization is not censorship, but censorship necessarily requires centralization.

Also I would like to have one (1) example of "western services" (you mean non chinese?) centralized service that fights censorship.




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