Chinese Fight Censorship with Mythical Furball

By Caitlin Millat
|  Thursday, Mar 12, 2009  |  Updated 4:30 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Chinese Fight Censorship with Mythical Furball

The grass-mud horse, whose name becomes an inflammatory swear word when spoken out loud in Chinese, is an icon of resistance to government censorship.

Chinese citizens are fighting back against government sensors by posting online videos of a mythical creature known as the "grass-mud horse" - which when written is innocent enough, but becomes a vile swear word when spoken aloud.

The grass-mud horse has become a nationwide phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands of viewers in China watch videos daily of the alpaca-like animal frolicking happily, knowing that its seemingly harmless nature is really a kick in the teeth to the government Big Brother monitoring "subversive" activity.

 

Entire Chinese agencies are devoted to sniffing out and stifling "inflammatory" Web sites, and the authoritation government has regularly shut down outlets they deem inappropriate for Chinese viewers, the New York Times reported.

The grass mud-horse's dual meaning - sometimes innocent, sometimes vulgar - has slipped under Chinese censors' radar and become an icon for the resistance the Chinese people are staging against suppressive leaders.

“The expression and cartoon videos may seem like a juvenile response to an unreasonable rule,” said Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

"But the fact that the vast online population has joined the chorus, from serious scholars to usually politically apathetic urban white-collar workers, shows how strongly this expression resonates," Qiang said.

The government revved up the censorship process in December, when intellectuals began to publicly speak out against federal censorship. Since then, it's shut down 1,900 Web sites and 250 blogs of various content - and more are being suppressed each day.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
Bay Area Proud
Bay Area Proud is NBC Bay... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out