Wow! I go away for a few days and look at the uproar.
I'm sorry I missed all the excitement and couldn't take time to explain myself, but I'm sure that once I tell you what I have been up to, you will understand.
You see, it all started out innocently enough while I was browsing the forums here during my work break. But suddenly everything changed when at the top of the page appeared, to my bewilderment, a half-naked picture of Britney Spears (I guess?) lounging in a bikini and tempting me with a free DVD player:
Unclad women officially sponsoring CDRLabs?!? Naturally I was disgusted and offended, but on the hope that this was just an anomally, I diverted my eyes and continued reading the forum threads. Unfortunately, I soon came across this thread
linking to pictures of scantily clad women such as this:
With my delicate constitution in a state of shock, I immediately logged off this site and decided I would calm my frayed nerves by reading my email. Unfortunately, I was assaulted again when attempting to log on to my email account:
Yikes! Breasts! Barely covered by a bikini, no less! I hurriedly entered my password to get past this outrage, but in my haste mis-typed and was forced to log in again:
Horrors! Even worse! A bare midriff and a only a scrap of string bikini bottom! Trooper that I am, I perservered and managed to log in. "Success", I congratulated myself, only to be taken aback by those breasts again, but this time with a midriff and crotch too!! And she is making a suggestive comment to me!!!!:
Okay, deep breaths, deeep breaths.... calm, happy thoughts... everything will be okay...
Regaining my composure, I opened an email from a colleague. Gasp! Cleavage alert!!:
Switfly averting my virginal eyes, I closed the open email and returned to my inbox. Alas and alack, my distress was not diminished. If fact, it was increased! Breasts, a midriff, a crotch and
After I regained my wits I decided that the problem was that I was viewing non-work sites during work hours. With this revelation, I pledged to myself never to cheat my employer by surfing for personal purposes on company time again, and set off with renewed vigor to give my all to my benevolent employer.
My first task was to look into alternatives to Blackberry two-way pager service. My boss was unhappy with the high cost of Blackberry, and wanted me to find out if there are cheaper competitors. I began my search with ZIM Technology's SMS text service at www.zim.biz
Woe is me!
Did I mistype the URL?
This can't be!! It says it offers an office solution, but that sure looks like T and A to me... But the boss is counting on me, and third time is the charm, so once more into the fire:
Fortunately, by the time I regained consciousness several hours later it was time to go home. Thankfully I turned off the computer and decided this was just what I needed: a break from the Internet. After all, we all know that the Internet is nothing but a cesspool of pornography.
Arriving home, I retrieved my postal mail and sat on the front steps going through the letters for the day. Ah! Here was something I could safely enjoy, a new catalog of computers from Dell. Surely that has nothing offensive, right? Oh, if only that were true... What did I see within but a large picture of a couple tightly embracing, her breasts against his chest, his arm drawing her in close, pelvises thrust together, an exhortation to "Rip it up, mix it down and play it long"...
Scandalous! Dancing is the devil's work, you know. As the catalog dropped from my hands (paralyzed with shock), the pages fluttered to another outrage, a topless woman on a beach!!:
Et tu, Michael??
Another illusion shattered against the hard, harsh rocks of reality, I ran inside, leaving the sickening Dell catalog behind for the rats and other vermin of the street for whom such trash is more appropriate. Slamming the bolt home on my front door, I sighed with relief at having made it safely to my calm, proprietous abode. As my heartbeat slowed, I began to go through the rest of my mail. Happily I next came across a flyer advertising an upcoming family arts festival at a nearby town. I paused to peruse what sort of wholesome entertainment they are offering:
GASP!!!!! Bare chests, breasts contained within tiny, metallic bikini tops, pulsating
The shame! We all know what that means!!!
"Okay, okay, be calm," I told myself. "What I need is a nice vacation. Yeah, that would sooth my frazzled nerves." Accordingly, I began to leaf through the special section on vacation getaways in the AAA magazine, looking for a nice ocean cruise:
Will it never stop!!
More breasts, and quite large ones, at that!! Bare legs, too! And don't get me started about the midriffs.
Quickly I lit a blaze in the fireplace and tossed in the trash that the USPS had unseemingly deposited at my doorstep. With this distasteful task completed, I turned to my daily newspaper to find out what was going on in the world and distract myself from the recent nastiness. Unfortunately, as I picked up the newspaper an advertising flyer dropped out at my feet. As I leaned over to pick it up, I feel the blood rushing to my head, and not because I was bent over with my head below my heart:
Good heavens, look at that trollop! Wearing a thin dress with slits cut up to here, spreading her legs wide, gently stroking the mighty gas tank that extends powerfully forward from between the man's legs as he mounts his untamed beast of a motorcycle... Eeeek!!!
Feeling faint, I collapsed on my sofa and thought pure thoughts about baseball... After a few minutes my psychic pain passed, but I began to feel a physical pain in my back, reminding me that I have been wanting to replace my old sofa with a more comfortable model. So I sat back up and began to page through the furniture ads. But before I even got to the easy chairs, I was stopped by yet another attack on my sensibilities:
Another topless woman? Another bare back?? Will it never stop??? What would my mother think, if she saw me looking at this filth???? Wait!! My mother!!! I forgot mothers' day!!!! In a panic, I dug through the previous Sunday's paper for the mothers' day ad from Kohls, knowing that my mother likes to shop there and hoping to select a belated gift. But it was not meant to be... Oh no, no, no, no, no!!!! Two full pages of bras and panties, breasts and belly buttons is what I found!:
Again I pondered my dilemma. This time I decided that my problem was that I was succumbing to the sinister siren of crass commercialism. Throwing aside the inserts, I turned to the innocent pleasure of the comics page. Here I would be safe, I was sure. After all, comics are made for children, right? Oh, my naivete knew no bounds....:
Dresses with thigh-high slits, halter tops, bikinis, bare midriffs, legs... all in the children's comic pages!!! Who
will protect the children!?!?!
Outraged again, I decided that I should confine myself only to the safe and staid world of professional journals, knowing that would shield my delicate eyes from the horrors of the human body. Reaching across my desk I picked up an old copy of C/C++ Users Journal that had some interesting articles I had been meaning to read. But as I perused the pages...:
Ooooohhhhhh noooooo..... Legs slung up on the desk, suggestive comments, this can't be!! All right, C/C++ was always too racy. I made the switch to Dr. Dobbs Journal:
Erk!! Bare buttocks! Gratuitous glutei!! Hastily I turned the page!!!
Arrgghhhh!!! More cartoon cleavage!!! Having had enough of Dobbs' rubbish, I switched to E-Week:
Oh no! Not décolletage!!!!
Fighting off waves of panic, I made one last, desparate grasp for the Microsoft Developers' Network Magazine. If anyone represents the standards of America that we all should emulate, it must be Bill Gates. Surely he wouldn't let me down, would he??? But, wait! What did I find in clear view? A full-page, back-cover ad where all can see it without even opening the magazine!!!! What if I had this magazine at work??
NOOOOOOooooooooooo!!!!!!!!! I couldn't stand it!!! "Is nothing
sacred?" I thought as I fell to floor in a paroxysm of revulsion induced paralysis.
A few minutes later I regained use of my limbs, picked myself off the floor, and decided to cleanse myself of the evil ways of humans and their unhealthy obsession with the human form and the opposite sex. And I knew just how to do it: a brisk, refreshing walk in the pure, clean wilderness of the great outdoors.
Reaching my stride, I slowly worked off the ague brought on by the shock of what I had seen. A serene peace settled over me as I enjoyed the call of the spring peepers. Making my way down to the stream, I sought out the source of this delightful call, and soon found it:
At last! Relief from the abuse of the suggestive, inappropriate and offensive norms of American culture.
As I knelt down for a closer look, I wondered why this little guy was singing his heart out with such intensity. Startled by my movement, he leapt into the stream, drawing my gaze to the terrible answer to my innocent question
AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! It was everywhere!!!! I couldn't escape it!!!! Barely able to see from the horror of it all, I stumbled back home, climbed into bed, threw the covers over my head, curled up in a ball and slipped into the blessed nirvana of catatonia.
And that brings my story up to date. Today I finally arose from my stupified slumber and decided that I couldn't just hide from the world. It was time to face the harsh realities of the world with my newfound understanding of the evils lurking everywhere throughout it.
As my first action, I have decided to get rid of the evil avatar I have been using for the past week or so. Yes, yes, this evil Britney (or whoever this hussy is) has got to go:
My first choice for a replacement was a logical one:
However, despite the fact that she is suitably dead, she doesn't have enough of that old, white male politician quality that I now understand makes for an appropriate avatar around here. So I thought it over some more, and finally came up with the answer! Why I hadn't thought of it earlier, I will never know. After all, what could be more appropriate and less offensive than this paragon of patriotic fervor, this embodiment of politically connected elite, this protector of American values that we all hold so dear? And thus, I have my new avatar:
What do you think? Haven't I done well? Am I not now suitably chastised and properly reformed?
Okay, that's enough of my fun. If you recognized and enjoyed my humor, then great! If not, well then we simply have different values and senses of humor. We are all entitled to our own opinions.
Of course, that is what makes this subject difficult. "Inappropriate" and "offensive" are not
constants but rather are subject to different opinions and interpretations. I don't believe in complete "cultural relativism" (a phrase I find a little offensive myself). I think there are some standards of behavior to which all
humans must comply to qualify for the term "human". But at the same time I recognize that "inappropriate" and "offensive" are much too variable among people and cultures to be pinned down with exactitude. Thus, there truly is no "standard" that can be applied to all. And I certainly know that attempting to apply a universal "standard" is hopeless, because someone will always be offended by something.
Despite this, though, I did not intend to offend anyone with my avatar. All I was doing was poking some good-natured fun at aviationwiz and his "old man" avatars. And the truth is that his avatars didn't/don't actually bother me. I just thought they were odd choices for such a young guy. I figured an avatar more like mine would be a more likely first choice for most guys his age. So I put up the dancing avatar on what I always intended to be just a temporary basis. Anyone who follows this forum regularly knows that I don't generally use an avatar at all.
I also did not and do not believe my dancing avatar was/is inappropriate for these forums, not by the standards listed for these forums and certainly not by my standards. She isn't showing anything more than one can see almost anywhere in daily life in America as I amply demonstrated with my above tongue-in-cheek exposition. Even so, I understood that someone might be offended (as we know, someone always is), so when I first added the dancing avatar I sent an email to Ian pointing it out to him and telling him I would gladly remove it if he asked me to. He never asked me to remove it, so I didn't.
I was getting ready to remove it altogether on my own accord, but after seeing this uproar I have decided to replace it with my new "Ashcroft" avatar to express my point of view. If you are upset about Ashcroft, just be patient. I don't intend to leave it up permanently either.
As for the many comments made on this matter, I enjoyed reading all of them and appreciated everyone's input. I won't respond to all comments individually, but do have a few replies I want to make.
MonteLDS, think for yourself! Your comment that "the things that are found offensive should be determind by them that have authority" is really frightening. Mindless adherence to authority has been demonstrated, time and again throughout history, to lead to bad, bad outcomes.
CDRecorder (from whom I also received a request to remove my avatar - he made his requests evenhandly without regard to moderator / author / post-count status just so people know there was no cherry picking), I understand and respect your point of view. Please see the above for explanation of why I did what I did and did not remove my avatar on your request.
BatGnat, I am also amazed at how Americans so easily accept violence while at the same time so quickly condemn sexuality. We (I am American) are a bit schizophrenic about that. I suspect that if I had changed my avatar to a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger cutting some poor sap in half with a machine gun, no one would have complained about an "inappropriate" avatar. While recognizing that early exposure to overt sexual behavior is not good for young children, I think the damage done by hyper-exposure to violence is far worse.
Spazmogen, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but when I put out the call to "Bring back Spazmogen's avatar!", I meant your margarita-drinking avatar rather than the Samantha Fox avatar. Not that I find your margarita-drinking avatar offensive, mind you. In fact that is why I wanted you to bring it back - because I didn't think it was right that you felt obligated to remove a perfectly fine picture of yourself just because someone was "offended" by it. I actually forgot about Samantha...
UALOneKPlus, you nailed it.
Boone, although I agree that some recent avatars aren't "work safe", I don't feel that mine strayed from what is not uncommon in the workplace already (as demonstrated by the examples I included above). Moreover, I never personally thought of CDRLabs as a "professional" review site. No, I am not saying that Ian's reviews aren't well researched, well written, full of insightful analysis and otherwise professional in those senses. I am merely saying that the target audience has always seemed to me to be optical drive enthusiasts rather than professionals.
As I see it, the typical "professional" interest in optical drives falls mainly into one of two categories. First is the IT workstation buyer whose interest is limited solely to checking off the "include CD-RW drive" box on the Dell order form and who doesn't care to take the time to explore at the level of detail included here at CDRLabs. Second is the professional in the CD or DVD production and/or duplication business. These professionals are looking for information about high volume duplicators, fabrication labs, glass mastering and such, none of which is covered at CDRLabs. Neither type of professional has much use for the material at CDRLabs, so I don't think they are the primary targets of this site, and thus I don't consider CDRLabs to be a "professional review site". I may be wrong, but I think a poll would show that the vast majority of readers are enthusiast end-users.
If we are interested in catering to a high-brow professional crowd, then I would suggest we get rid of avatars, smilies and the like altogether. I suspect there are many who would consider Star Fleet insignia and Cartman avatars to be solidly in the realm of "pubescent boys club" material and inapropriate for a "professional" site. Certainly comments such as "you just need to get laid for once in your life" don't belong on a "professional" site.
Well, this whole episode has been interesting and informative. I never expected it to amount to all this, and I hope that no one was truly offended since that was not my intent, but I as I said in an earlier post at the beginning of this little episode, I offer no apologies. And with that, I close this massive post.