A Word on the LJ Mess
First of all, since people seem intent on stating their migration (or not) plans, I'm not leaving LJ at the moment. I did think about it a while back, though it wasn't entirely motivated by the Strikethrough debacle but also some personal misgivings I had been having about the wisdom of maintaining a personal journal in a place where it also serves as a public forum and people (therefore) expect that I will tidy up my writings and opinions to be well-worded, inoffensive, and politically correct. But that is a nattering for another time.
I do have LJ backup software installed on my computer, but I haven't used it yet. In all likelihood--I am not stupid--my account will never be in jeopardy here. 1) I'm not an artist, so my pr0n doesn't go beyond the written word, which currently isn't being targeted and I believe would be more difficult to target. 2) Even that pr0n can be defended as having artistic merit; I don't think that anything I've ever written--no matter how sexually explicit--is bona fide PWP. 3) I don't have many fandom enemies and those I do have don't seem to use abuse reports as a means to cleanse the fandom of heretics like me. And LJ--for all that they've made my skin crawl in the past few months--is not the Pit of Voles. I do believe that they might investigate an abuse complaint before simply deleting an account.
Others have said more eloquently why--metafandom has many of them for those of you who don't know what's going on--but my personal opinion is that LJ/SA has bungled this round of the witch-hunt as well. I think that they've not only treated their customers in a shitty manner but have behaved in such a way that has larger implications for the fight against the sexual abuse of children at large. Besides driving the real offenders underground by giving them plenty of warning, they've managed to turn the conversation in a completely counterproductive direction. We're not discussing how to apprehend and stop real offenders but are arguing in circles about drawings we don't like (or do). The fight against sexual child abuse tends to be an alarmist and irrational one to begin with (in the opinion of one who studied sexual child abuse as a psychology student and now as a law enforcement professional sees the apprehension and legal treatment of pedophiles) but this really takes the proverbial cake. We could have conversations about this topic and create an online fandom community that assists law enforcement in bringing the real offenders to justice ... but we're arguing about a drawing of people who don't even exist. Wow.
But on LJ/SA's actions ... is it really that surprising or have I just become that much of a cynic? Since when does the fair treatment of one's customers matter in Corporate America? When doesn't Corporate American bend to serve in interest of the almighty dollar? And LJ/SA is both: corporate and American. Corporate: they exist as an entity to make as much money as possible and to dominate an arena of online life (social networking/blog sites) that has since become quite crowded. American: this country is controlled by a tiny majority simply because they have the money to buy bigger megaphones. This is why abortion is still a contested issue even though the majority of Americans favor a woman's right to choose. This is why same-sex marriage is still illegal. This is why in the year 2007, we still have to fight not to have our children forced to learn Biblical creation stories in public-school science class, attend religion classes in public schools, and why we are all still saying "one nation under god" when we show respect to our flag and country. (And just a few days ago, Texas added the same phrase.) This is why individuals are being browbeaten for having the nerve to use automobiles to drive to work but it's been an uphill battle to get laws passed making auto makers conform to fuel-economy standards, oil companies still get tax breaks, and no one ever mentions making big corporations or the government itself require telecommuting or flex-schedules to keep their employees off the road at peak times. Because, omg, individuals can make all manner of sacrifices but heaven forbid we should ask a big corporation to do this! Why, they might lose money!!!
(And for the record, I think that personal sacrifice is necessary too. I make plenty in my own life ... but it's not the only solution and berating individuals to the exclusion of corporations that are causing the majority of the problems is ineffective and unfair. But I am getting off-topic.)
The point is that the US is largely controlled now by two small contingents of people: the very pious and the very rich. So I am not surprised the LJ is choosing to pander to their corporate sponsors rather than do right by customers who have been with them before they were an arm of Six Apart. And I am not surprised that the crackdown that has come has not been against any of the number unsavory uses people have found for LJ but against "obscenity." Hence the fact that a small group of conservative nutjobs managed to raise a brouhaha about a breast exposed for a half-second on national television but we can't stop our own citizens for getting killed in a stupid war in Iraq. Because corporate sponsors aren't daft. They know that the Christian-nutjob contingent in this country may represent a minority of Americans, but they have very big (very ignorant, I might add) mouths, and while they'll support a company that advertises on a journaling site that allows neo-Nazi communities*, then omg (or, as they would say, omG), if those same companies advertise on a site that allows drawings of a man performing fellatio on another man** ... well, the first LJ Strikethrough showed how quickly just a miniscule number of nutjobs can turn up the heat--and the volume--real quick on that.
* And I'm not saying that they shouldn't. I despise all forms of hate, but as long as people aren't harming each other, then I do believe that people have the right to say all manner of stupid things. Unfortunately, the "right to free speech" doesn't make much sense as a right to uphold only when it's convenient.
** Because, come on. We've all seen the drawing by now, right? (If not ... but be forewarned that this is a graphic drawing. Cover the eyes of thy children.) This is child pornography? The male in the picture could be seventeen or twenty-five. Unless context was given that stated otherwise--and as far as I know, it was not--such as if the title was something along the lines of "Harry Gets Extra Credit in His Second Year at Hogwarts," then I think that there are bigger fish to fry in the fight against sexual child abuse then this particular drawing.
So I suppose I'm cynical about this whole episode to 1) have a dismaying lack of surprise about the whole thing and 2) not believe that my own "migration" from LJ--should I choose to take this option--would make a whit of a difference. I have a paid account with the userpic upgrade, so LJ gets about thirty bucks a year out of me. How do you think my thirty bucks compares with the millions they get from advertisers?
Yes, but every drop fills the bucket, right? Don't I say this all the time, about what a difference would be made if every American recycled just one additional item per day, for example? Doesn't the same hold true here?
fandom_counts currently has 34,913 members, and one of the few things that Teh Fandom could agree upon during LJ Strikethrough the First was that it only took a second to join fandom_counts so why not? So I think this is a fairly accurate representation of the number of people who are really upset about these episodes. Now, if each of those members owns a paid account with the userpic add-on, as I do, that means that those members give just over a million dollars each year to LJ. ($1,047,390 to be exact.)
But how many have paid accounts? How many have add-ons? And how many members of fandom_counts would truly leave LJ if the shit really did hit the fan? Let's assume half have paid accounts and half of those have userpic add-ons. And then less assume that a generous 50% of fandom_counts would leave LJ if they continue toying with fandom as they have.
Given this scenario, LJ collects $436,400 in paid accounts and add-ons from the community above. So if half of them leave or cancel their paid accounts, LJ loses only $218,200. Does anyone think this is worth pissing off the corporate sponsors?
(And would people giving up paid time necessarily be a bad thing for LJ? I stay logged on LJ on my computer, so I have never seen a single ad or "sponsored community" on LJ, even though many of my flist have plus accounts. So I am a non-entity to ad agencies. They can't advertise to me. Now if I gave up my paid account, they could. So if LJ could guarantee a larger audience for a company's ads--i.e., more free and plus accounts versus paid and permanent accounts--it makes sense to me that they could justify charging more for those ads. And it makes sense also to me that those of us who spend the most time on LJ [and therefore would see the most ads] are those who aren't seeing ads because we own paid accounts. So the move for paid account holders to give up those accounts--thus tying LJ tighter to its corporate sponsors--has never made much sense to me. Wouldn't it make better sense to encourage plus account holders to switch back to free or to ante up for a paid account? Deny LJ the audience for their ads while also making it a service that is again largely financed by its customers? Yes, I know how pie-in-the-sky this is, and I know that it won't happen. But at the same time, switching back to a free account from a paid account doesn't make much sense to me either.)
So that was a lot of rambling (and fuzzy maths) to say that I am staying right where I am and not much is changing. I'm not "going underground" with my stories. AMC contains graphic scenes of Nelyo and Annawende, who are about seventeen if Elf years; the work-in-progress prequel to AMC features Nerdanel and Feanor married at age 15 (in Elf years) and are pregnant with Nelyo by age 16, so clearly they are having (underage) sex. I'll be honest: When I heard about this, that was the first thought to come to my mind. By the standards that LJ is upholding, I am not much between than a common kiddie pornographer. (And yes, I recognize the myriad distinctions. 1] AMC is a written work; ponderosa121's "infraction" was a drawing. So far as I've heard, LJ is cracking down only on "images." I've also seen the argument made that cracking down on fiction is more difficult, as it is easier to make an argument for artistic merit versus mere titillation. 2] There is no age difference. Nelyo and Annawenda are both horny kids; Nerdanel and Feanor are horny, married kids. I wonder what the reaction to the drawing would have been if it was Harry and Ron, not Harry and Snape. The younger/older, student/teacher dynamics seem to add an extra nefarious edge to the whole thing. 3] There is artistic merit. At least, the vast majority of readers seem to think so, and I'm really not trying to brag about this. But I don't think there's any way for AMC or its prequel to be mistaken for works without artistic merit existing for the purpose of mere obscenity, no matter how much people may dislike my writing or my interpretations of Elvish culture and sexual mores.)
Meanwhile, I also offer apologies to non-American LJ friends for the fact that you've been dragged into a day in the life of the money-hungry, corporate-owned, morality-obsessed, and sexually repressed US of A. *sigh*