Baozuitun: a Chinese Blogger Who Challenges Censorship Boundaries

I am glad to announce the return of Baozuitun 饱醉豚 (or the Gluttonous Suckling Pig).  He is one of the two bloggers whose blogs at Bullog.cn were forced to close down shortly after Charter 08 was made public.  The other blogger who suffered a similar fate was Ran Yunfei.  The closing down of their blogs marked the beginning of another round of Internet censorship.  This time the censorship was conducted under the pretence of an anti-smut campaign.  In Chinese, it is known as 反低俗 (fan disu) or an anti-vulgarity campaign.  The campaign led to the demise of more than a thousand PRC-based websites.  Bullog.cn inevitably fell victim of this campaign.  The blog portal, which was popular for its tolerance towards controversial views, was eventually shut down on 8 January 2009.  Since then most of the well-known Bullog bloggers have resumed blogging.  Many of them have signed up for new blogging spaces at other portals.  Some, however, have gone a step further to setup their own independent websites.  One of them is Baozuitun.

Baozuitun is one of the few ex-Bullog bloggers who writes under a pseudonym, and he does that for a very good reason.  Baozuitun is a master of political satire.  His rather daring attempts at pouring ridicule on Government authorities, as well as his readiness to push limits set by the CCP’s propaganda machine, would have definitely raised some eyebrows among the Internet censors.  Behind the veil of his anonymity, however, Baozuitun was able to venture into topics which will otherwise be considered too sensitive for a PRC-based blogger.  Yet, he handled these topics skilfully, with loads of dark humour and tons of political incorrectness.  In short, Baozuitun is the equivalence of Ivan, Nanheyangrouchuan or MyLaowai from the English language China blogosphere.  His unconventional and provocative style earned him many followers.   His blog at Bullog.cn  reached a record traffic of 1 million hits in less than six months before it was finally “harmonised”.

The following is an abridged translation of Baozuitun’s recent blog post titled “The Right to be Vulgar“.  I am hoping that this will enable our readers to appreciate the appeal of Baozuitun’s literary style.  I choose not to do a complete translation because of the length of the original article.

Baozuitun starts his article by defining what constitutes vulgarity and how Chinese people’s rights to be vulgar have been taken away from them.  He says:

It is not easy to ban vulgarity because everyone does something vulgar every now and then.   Even the most gracious person will need to blow his nose, go to the toilet, wipe his bum and make love …. The Internet is filled with vulgar content because people enjoy reading them.  Those who run websites have to post something eye-catching as a way of attracting readers.  If you don’t trust me, go ahead and replace all naked women’s photos on the Internet with those of our political leaders, or replace all online essays about rape and adultery with CCTV news.  You will immediately see how this is going to affect site traffic.  In short, what has been classified as vulgarity is in fact the kind of things that most people like … When you see through the deceptive nature of language use, and realise how “vulgarity” has been used to represent “content that appeals to the general public”, you will understand how the Government has deprived us of our rights to like the kind of things that we like.

He then goes on to analysis what he considers to be the hypocritical nature of the so-called anti-vulgarity campaign:

During another anti-smut campaign many years ago, a movie star called Chi Zhiqiang was arrested and convicted for having sex with several of his female fans.  I felt sorry for Chi, because if he was one of our political leaders, his adultery affairs would be classified as state secrets.  If he was as famous a writer as Lu Xun, Yu Dafu, Xu Zhimo or Hu Shi, and his adultery partners were gracious intellectuals like Wang Yingxia, Lu Xiaoman and Lin Huiyin, then his romance would even be celebrated and made into TV dramas.

In a way, this anti-smut campaign is an improvement from the last one twenty years ago.  Some online articles were deleted and some websites were shut down.  But at least no one is arrested.

What bothers me, however, is that the announcement made public has not included websites that the Government actually intends to close down.  It is obvious that the closure of Bullog.cn has nothing to do with vulgarity.   At Gettao.com, pages and pages of graciously argued viewpoints have become the target of closure. Vulgar content, however, has practically remained untouched.

Somewhere along the line, political opinion has been quietly put to a grave alongside vulgarity.  This dishonest political game of deception is something that I find particularly despicable.

Some people who look at this from a different angle may argue that there is indeed an improvement, because it shows that the suppressing of “political dissent” is no longer an acceptable excuse for closing down websites.  This kind of metaphorical raping and killing of opposition views online will not have the approval of the general public anymore.  So there is a need to find another acceptable excuse.  For me, this is analogous to saying that it is not acceptable to rape women from respectable families.  But it is OK to round up a few good women with a group of prostitutes and rape them all.  What kind of improvement is this?

Unlike many critics of Internet censorship in China, Baozuitun does not put blames squarely on the Chinese government.  He drives to home a very perceptive argument about how government policies capitalise on the hypocritical nature of public morality.   In short, he says we are ultimately responsible for the monsters we create.   Internet censorship in China will not cease to exist, as long as Chinese people refuse to be honest about how they actually feel about it and what kind of society they really prefer for themselves and for their future generations.  Baozuitun concludes his essay by saying:

It is of course wrong to rape prostitutes.  In fact it is wrong to impose one’s sexual desire on another unwilling party.    It is even more ridiculous to victimise many innocent prostitutes in order to conceal the crime of raping women from respectable families.  Crime of this nature can prevail because most people in society are hypocrites.  It is acceptable for people to frequent brothels, but it is not OK for them to admit that they are brothel customers.  So when the Government starts to put a ban on prostitution, there will be no more brothels for them to go to visit.  Why does someone deny himself of what he likes?  Why does he refrain from making a stance against people who trash things that are close to his heart?  Is it really so appealing to be a fake puritanical idiot?

It is every individual’s human right to be vulgar.  Vulgarity is everyday necessity, just like bonking, eating, blowing noses, wiping bums, etc, etc.  Of all the rights that human beings are supposed to enjoy, the right to vulgarity ranks number one.  Imagine if one of our gracious ancient Chinese emperors had become so gracious that he had actually put a ban on all bonking activities, and if everyone had obeyed his order, what would have happened?  I bet you that the Chinese ethnic groups would have become extinct by now.  If it is not sensible to stop people from bonking each other, why will it be sensible to ban sex-related Internet content?  It is OK to fuck each other while naked but it is not OK to look at naked photos.  What kind of absurd logic is it?  It is synonymous to permitting people to stab each other to death while making it illegal to watch martial art movies.

No one can harm another person by being vulgar.  I cannot recall any incident of an ethnic group becoming extinct because there are too many prostitutes among them, or because they are too sexually active.  On the contrary, if any ethnic group is stupid enough to abstain from sex or to ban sexual activities, I can say for sure that they will definitely become extinct.  My reading of something vulgar at home will never make your company go bankrupt or make you impotent.  No one can cast a spell and kill another person while making love with one’s own sexual partner.   This kind of witchcraft is simply not in existence.

Vulgarity is a right for everyone to enjoy.  It is not an excuse for a tyrant to kill.

Please follow THIS LINK to visit Baozuitun’s new blog.

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3 Responses to Baozuitun: a Chinese Blogger Who Challenges Censorship Boundaries

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "vulgar"

  2. Pingback: Baozuitun: The Right to be Vulgar - and its Denial « Justrecently’s Weblog

  3. euandus says:

    Thanks for your post. I just wrote one about what it means when such brutality is “normalized” by virtue of simply being used on a regular basis…when in fact it ought to be regarded still as beyond the pale. I am providing the link in case you are interested. http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/using-rape-against-political-protesters/

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