Friday 8 April 2011

I’m being censored by my own email!

I’ve always used Eudora Light for my email. It’s a freebie no-frills application that does exactly what I want, in a lean no pop-ups or ads type of way. Every now and then a dialogue box appears after its launch, asking if I want to upgrade and register for the full Eudora shebang. I click Not Yet and life goes on.

Well, it did, until a week ago, when I was multi-tasking as only a man can, and accidentally clicked on the Ohh Yes Please Let Me Enjoy All Those Features button.

Poopers. What happens now? Will I have to pay? Will there be all sorts of clunky features I neither want nor need?

But no, it’s fine. There are no ads, but then again I haven’t registered with them yet. I write an email to my man JB about how my life is pootling along, about struggles giving up fags, and when I go to send it I’m presented with a dialogue box on screen:

“Your message may cause offense. Your message to ‘person’ regarding ‘subject’ has language highly likely to be found offensive.

The little blue button on my screen asks me if I want to Send Anyway?, so I click on it, but the message doesn’t go. Instead it sits in my Outbox, with a hefty censorial criss-cross in its margin, and three red chilli pepper icons stuck beside it.

Taking a glance up my Outbox, I spotted a few other emails with one and two red chilli pepper icons attached, all sent since I’d left the freedom of Eudora Light. Opening these peppered emails, I find other mentions of ‘fags’, as there would very likely be, in England and Ireland, if you’re talking about cigarettes.

Outrage starts to build within me. I’m a writer and I need the freedom to send emails containing whatever text necessary. More to the point, I am a human being who does not want, need or expect to be judged by his email application. Had I been spreading vile racist abuse or sexist vitriol I might have felt different, but probably not, because there’s this thing called Freedom of Speech.

From that outrage fresh anger grows, at the sad inaccuracy of this misplaced censorship. If you're going to offer a truly international product, make sure your software is sufficiently sophisticated.

Then I wonder: if Eudora won’t let me use ‘fag’ because of the way the word is used in America, will it let me use words that will actually cause offense in Europe? I send an email to myself with the single word ‘poof’ in it, and it goes without any warning. I send myself emails with the words ‘queer’, bender’ and ‘gay’, and they all go too. Then I try one with ‘fuck’ and it won’t go. Apparently, sending myself that email is highly likely to be found offensive - by me.

My blood runs cold. Get me out of big Eudora and do it now. There are times when I really need to send pieces that have swear words and curses in them, because I’m a freelance writer living in Ireland, where the Fs and C’s flow as freely as the craic. It’s just Ireland’s way of adopting English, with all the scrungy cocktails of its Anglo-Saxon and Latin glories intact.

Nobody here will be offended by the use of the word ‘fag’ for ‘cigarette’. Yet I am offended. I am deeply offended and affronted. By simply clicking on the wrong button, my freedom of speech has been curtailed.

I’m sending a copy of this to the folks at Eudora, who will hopefully reply with an explanation of how I can simply change my settings and stop this happening. If however they say this is the way it has to be, I’m out of Eudora faster than peppered fag.


Charlie Adley said...

First results not looking good - this just arrived as an automated response.

'Dear Eudora Users,

Qualcomm is no longer selling or supporting the Eudora product. Technical support is not available for Eudora users.

You can still get 24 hour access to our web site <> which includes:

Online Tutorials!
Knowledge Base!
Eudora Forums!
Development on the open source version of Eudora!'

Ah well, looks like there'll be no joy there. Strangely, one of the peppered emails just arrived in my in-box. Never too late for an application to work properly. I'm a forgiving soul!

Paz said...

Id murder a fag after reading this

Charlie Adley said...

Funny guy! Spot on Paz, and sure enough, your email received two red chili peppers in my Inbox!