Congress is currently considering the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, both of which would limit the content websites can host. The bills' supporters say they just want to stop piracy. But many websites, including Google and Wikipedia, claim that government regulation of the World Wide Web would infringe on free speech. Should online content be curtailed?

Congressman $#@%! What the %!@#? When Censors Run Wild

It's not about Wienergate, I promise.

So, I'm listening to the radio with my pre-teen daughter - one of her music stations that might be more suited for a teenager, and the DJ comes on and makes a comment on the news-of-the-day: "Congressman BLEEP is really in a lot of trouble..." "That's crazy," I say. "why are they bleeping out his name?" "Well, dad, it is a dirty word," says my too-mature-for-her-age 10-year-old. I said, "No, it's his name." (It could also be a hot dog, but I didn't go there). So, I had to comment on this obviously mindless use of censorship.

Now, I'm an organizational psychologist, so how does this tie in? Well, it reminds me of a problem that occurs in organizations all the time - particularly organizations where the bureaucracy has taken control. A rule gets set, and it is applied mindlessly and indiscriminately.

We need rules and guidelines in organizations, but we also need people who think about how and when those rules should be applied, and when exceptions should be made. Mindless following of rules, stifles creative thinking, and can get people and organizations into a lot of trouble. "I was just following rules/orders" is the standard reply given by zealous followers of toxic leaders and despots.

As we drove along listening to the radio, I paid a little more attention to the song lyrics. I was grateful that the censors were doing their work, because some of the words were BLEEPED out (and they needed to be). My observant daughter must have seen the quizzical look on my face during one repetitive chorus with a word BLEEPED out each time. "It's A-S-S, Dad."

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