Now you may be wondering why I choose not to place a few tid-bits in this week’s piece. But I am self-censoring this piece. I will have complete control of my media space.
I heard a person give a speech this week about how the Palestinian Authority censors its publications. He explained that they reprimand those who possibly bring shame onto the Palestinians people, but this is after the pieces are published. Everyone knows what is permitted and what brings fines and penalties.
The presenter used a word in Arabic that he said roughly translated into Yiddish as “shunda.” Just as there is not translation for the Arabic word, there really isn’t a word for shunda in English. It is a mix of shame, fear, and embarrassment that one feels for another person or themselves. Ie: “A shunda it is that Larry and Sherry are getting a divorce.”
Shunda censorship is a dangerous beast for it makes everyone think about who may be harmed by the truth; while it may hurt to learn about the fact that your Rabbi was a molester, it is better to get the guy off the street. But the real problem here isn’t the truth, it is the fact that because family and friends surround us within the Jewish world, we try no to destroy their names unnecessarily. But we also do not want to make another victim.
It is telling that both Jews and Palestinians employ (either officially or de facto) shunda censorship. Both peoples for so long have been victims and we don’t want to victimize one of our own. It seems that even if we can move past the victimology of any number of issues, we still don’t want to be perceived as weak.
This shunda censorship has fallen in recent years because of the blogger community. FailedMessiah pushed the Forward to cover the kosher meat scandals. Jspot pushed the Jewish Week to cover their issue campaign. But that still doesn’t mean that we bloggers are not also guilty of shunda censorship from time to time. I have held back information and facts that I know only will hurt the people involved. While I have a small readership, a scandal would increase this readership and all that is involved with such changes. But it just isn’t worth it.
For most bloggers, our censorship button on our keyboards is a little smaller than for the rest of the media. But that is important. When we run with a story and it is true, it can filter up and our actions are not worthy of being defined as a shunda. Yet we all need to watch our blogs for false allegations. I have said this before but we are all nobodies. Blogs have no reputation but their reporting and quality of writing. (so I don’t have much of a reputation at all.) So if we run our blogs with non-factual attacks on the local leadership, we will only cry wolf. Even if you hate the rabbi and her policies, have something to hang your hat on before you call her a bitch.
Don’t let the fear of shunda stop you from reporting the truth, but know what you got is the truth before you hit the publish button.
While I know you don’t care, this wasn’t published on Shabbat, I am in LA this weekend. So it is a kosher rant even if you don’t like it.