Censorship Abroad

I’ve always considered Mexicans, in Mexico City at least, to be a tolerant people. I’ve yet to be spat on for my lack of Catholic belief, nor turned away from a retail or other establishment for the colour of my skin. There are plenty of non Mexican communities who live happily in the city, without, to my knowledge, any grief. Well, without any of the grief that isn’t equally shared amongst everyone. Corruption makes no great distinction.

So it’s sad to see that a Chinese community is suffering persecution in the Distrito Federal. But this is an unusual case, because the persecution isn’t coming from the Mexican authorities, but the Chinese authorities. Apparently. Thugs hired by the Chinese Embassy, in broad daylight, dismantled a Falun Gong float. Chinese suppresion seems to respect no borders. Equally disappointing was the fact that Mexico City police officers were present, but simply stood by and watched.

One would hope that this issue is taken up with the Chinese at an official level, but I have my doubts that any such thing will happen. I will do my part on behalf of the Falun Gong however. I have added the restaurants of the city’s small Chinatown area to the list of establishments I boycott. So, Chinatown and McDonalds. This won’t be hard to do. The restaurants don’t serve an awful lot that I’d ever associate with Chinese cuisine. And I’m leaving the country in 8 days time.

On a related, but different subject, censorship takes many forms. From the Bierce Account:

Gary Denness left another comment here yesterday in which he, alas, fell right into that. I’m a racist! He put a pretty dress on it, and daubed lipstick on its face, but it was still quite recognizable. So that comment went directly to trash. Bierce is not a free-speech zone, and I do believe in censorship.

Not so. I left a reasoned comment, with no profanity and no disguised accusations. Don Felipe begins many of his ‘racially sensitive’ posts with a disclaimer of one sort or another so I’m sure he knows full well onto what sort of ground he is treading. ‘Racist’ is an offensive label, no doubt about it. He has on occasion suggested that his current country of residence and the nationality of his bride is proof that he is not, couldn’t possibly be, heaven forbid, a racist. It’s a defence he has used or implied more than once, and one I thought I’d challenge. Among other issues I  have challenged. This was, really, a side issue. A ‘by the by’.  And was labelled as such.

I simply pointed out that his choice of country to settle in, and his choice of bride, does not in any way disqualify him from being a racist. I pointed out that there have been some incorrigible racists over the centuries, easily identifiable as such, who have settled on shores other than their own. Who have taken wives, or mistresses, of a colour that does not match their own. Sometimes slaves, sometimes not. And I also pointed out, to make sure I was being clearly understood, that this was not an accusation of racism that I was throwing at him. I made it clear. I was commenting on the defence. A defence that holds no water. It’s not a real defence. Whether or not he is a racist was by the by.

But as we’re on the subject, let’s get it out into the open. The Mexile isn’t so sensitive to such debates. Is Don Felipe prejudiced in any way? A tad racist, from time to time? Of course you are, señor! We all are. The definition of racism, xenophobia, sexism, sectarianism et al are all very basic. Catch-all terminology makes life difficult. In the simplest terms of the descriptions, we all fall guilty here and there. Of course, there’s a broad spectrum. Some appreciate their prejudices for what they are and do not let them break out into intolerance. Others believe most sincerely in their prejudice, labelled ‘common knowledge’ through ignorance and upbringing. Other people perpetuate prejudice through simple hatred. Where do you lie in the spectrum, señor?

I’ve never made firm judgement, nor can I be bothered to, nor am I qualified to. I suspect he lies further along the line into the ‘dark zone’ than myself. But I’ve always refrained from making any declaration as to exactly where on that spectrum he might be fairly posited. It is reasonable to say that ‘questions are raised’ when he advocates policies in favour of authorities forming suspicions, making judgements and detaining individuals solely on the basis of skin colour. But we all say things that ‘raise questions’ from time to time. Most of us, anyway.

But you see, I was not daubing lipstick on an accusation, or dressing it up to look pretty. I was in fact stripping his defence of its lipstick and pretty dress. Nothing more. That his defence is not valid does not of course infer that he must be a racist. That he wished to see more in my comment was his choice.

I have many goodbyes to say over the following week or so, as my Mexican adventure winds down. I’ll say mine to you now, Don Felipe. It’s a shame to end on a slightly sour note – I’ve long enjoyed reading about life in Patzcuaro, and enjoyed joining in conversations, even when you propose ideas I disagree with. But I’d like to think that when I take the time to contribute to a conversation, my views and opinions will be given fair airing. Even when things get a little heated, or tetchy.

There’s nothing wrong with things getting a little heated and tetchy, providing a degree of respect and politeness remain. Which was the case. I’m sure we could all shake virtual hands at the end of it, and agree to disagree.  But your choice of censorship is both a little irritating and a even a little offensive, particularly with your comment on my ‘trashed’ contribution. If you’ll comment on it, you should publish it.  That’s not an obligation, of course. It is your blog, after all. It’s really just ‘manners‘.

Your choice of moderation is not a very satisfactory way to conduct debate, but such is life.  The logical route for me to take is simply not to comment further in Felipe World. And to air my view here instead, where I decide what is allowed, and what is not. It doesn’t seem quite right that I shouldn’t be able to respond to something which, at best, was a bit of a cheap slur.

And so my view has been aired. With that I, genuinely and with sincerity, wish you all the best. I know we’ll both sleep soundly tonight anyway. I’ll continue reading your adventures and look forward to further ‘Tales’ from what will soon be my ‘former adopted homeland’. Adios amigo.


8 thoughts on “Censorship Abroad

  1. Kim G says:

    The Falun Gong thing is ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS. I can’t believe the police did nothing. OK, well, I can believe it, but it’s outrageous nonetheless. The woman being interviewed on the video is a dual Mexican/Chinese citizen and she says she’d already be dead if she were in China. It’s outrageous that Mexico doesn’t stand up for people’s rights to have a peaceful New Year’s celebration.

    Here’s a link to the sole newspaper article I could find on Google News in English: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/50788/

    This really should become a larger story. Thanks for writing about it.

    Kim G
    Boston, MA


    • That was the article I sourced the story from – I forgot to provide the link.

      And I agree – this really needs to be given a lot more coverage. Mexico used to be a haven for the oppressed and unwanted. Even Trotsky got help, even if it didn’t end so well for him. But then, I’m not sure there was ever such a thing as a genuinely safe haven for those who’d upset Uncle Joe.

      I tried to locate the float when I was watching the video. There are some familiar looking buildings in the background.

      Gary D
      DF, Mexico
      Where we are wondering what happened to Kim’s post script today. There is always a postscript.


  2. With the neo-liberal (“global capitalist”) federal administration, I suppose business ties with the odious People’s Republic outweigh human rights concerns, though I wouldn’t boycott Mexico City’s Barrio Chino because of something done by the People’s Republic.

    Mexico City has had Chinese residents since the late 16th century, the Barrio Chino dates from the 1920s, having become a refuge for norteño Chinese-Mexicans displaced during the Revolution, often persecuted, oddly enough, because so many of them were paid the higher rates paid to foreigners for the same work done by Mexicans in the extractive industries (the mines) and on the railroads.

    There’s more than a little irony in that… The U.S. “Chinese Exclusion Act” of 1888, which forbade the immigration of Chinese women and dependents, as well as restricting immigration by Chinese men, made Mexico an attractive destination… and even Chinese in the U.S. were willing to move south. Having traditionally been railway workers in the U.S., the Chinese workers were paid as if they were U.S. or European workers, at a much higher wage than Mexican workers doing the same job… a source of resentment in the north, that, alas, Pancho Villa exploited and set off “pograms” in railway towns like Torreón. Mexico City was a natural refuge, and — odd incidents like the Falong Gong attack aside — there is very little anti-Chinese sentiment I’ve every heard. Anti-Korean… now that’s a different story.

    As to “Felipe Zapata”… he’s a pretentious dolt, and not to be taken seriously.


    • Interesting story.

      What’s up with the Koreans? I’ve not come across much in the way of widespread negative sentiment in Mexico City at all. I guess there is a degree of ‘inbuilt’ hostility toward the Spanish and those from north of the border, but it’s not a personal thing from what I’ve observed. More a historical resentment of the institutional side of the countries. We Brits have that with the French. I’m obliged to mock them, but really I like France and the French. The latter more so than the average Brit. But shhhh. I’d be permanently ‘mexiled’ if anyone back home found out….

      I have also noticed a general distrust of the city’s Jewish community. The ones who dress in traditional garb, anyway.


    • “As to “Felipe Zapata”… he’s a pretentious dolt”

      I would have disagreed with you, although I hold my own opinion which he might not find flattering. But then he posted a poll to see if others think so too. Which is a bit pretentious. And doltish.

      He found your comment ‘discourteous’. One might suggest one gets what one gives out…


  3. Having been a follower of both you and Felipe – I have to agree with you – he is more apt to dish it out than to take it. But, as you suggest he writes an excellent Blog. I tend to ignore his sensitive points – but also avoid involving myself with such as you so eloquently take up the gauntlet on that front. At his age and mine I am but 2 years his junior we have earned the right to be a bit grumpy – but never should one earn the right to dish it out and not take it – oh well I remain follower to both 😉


    • I too should simply have ignored the posts, and stayed away. In hindsight. I should probably have simply knocked Bierce off of Google Reader yesterday, instead of responding in this post. In hindsight. Too late now. Besides, I was irritated, and my point is still valid, even if it is pointless. If you get my meaning. Imagine if Mexicans had no sense of humour or give and take? Can you imagine the uproar there would have been after that Top Gear episode? Oh…wait…. 🙂

      I made a fair comment. I was going to expand on it, but lack of time and will deterred me. I was going to point out that he shouldn’t need the disclaimers and defences. Most of us, even me, the ‘young feller’, have been around long enough to know what usually follows any article or statement that begins, either literally or with similar intent, ‘I’m not a racist/xenophobe/homophobe/sexist/anti-semite/purple jacket hater but…”

      It gets the article off to a bad start, and leaves an impression. Just get to the point. Any intelligent reader will be able to make their own mind up on the nature of the writer. Those not intelligent enough to do so aren’t to be worried about. There’s plenty of perfectly valid comments to be made that can also be controversial. So just spit it out. Welcome opposition and passionate, even heated, discourse – they make for a great debate, provided they remain under a certain degree of control.

      Get clarification if needed. Explore the issue. It can actually be fun. And if someone does make an ass of themselves now and again (and I’m as good as anyone for doing that from time to time) then so be it. Leave it up there, for all to see. And it has to be said that some of these comments of mine really would be better sited on his blog, not here. But such is life.

      Having said that, I do agree with Don Felipe that censorship has its place. It’s an interesting and difficult subject. Generally here on my blog, I let the conversation flow. I’ve taken some insults before now. No problem. I have ‘moderated’ a comment on occasion, but very rarely. And once every now and again I get a diatribe of pure prejudice and nonsense from some random person dropping by that I decide to delete. But that’s rare.

      But you see, I have a certain audience. It’s adult in nature, and mostly made up of intelligent people. Audience is key. Problems really arise when the audience is large, easily upset and prone to acting on incitement. That doesn’t, I suspect, apply to 99.9% of blogs though.

      But anyway. He does write an excellent blog. I’ll keep reading too. The Zapata Tales, anyway. And yours. Do you know that the .so domain name is being released soon? Pre order Calyp.so quickly, amigo!!


  4. Pingback: The Fine Line « The Mexile

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