iBooks naughty word filter doesn't let you say "sperm"

IMG_0005thumb.png Dean spotted that bowdlerization is afoot in the iPad's bookstore's selection of classic literature! This includes obvious candidates such as a certain Joseph Conrad classic. But ... sperm?


    1. Mocha Dick was the sequel, published when Melville tried cashing in on the blaxploitation craze of the 1870s.

  1. ZOMFG, this is ridiculous to the extreme! I’m from Germany, this kind of censorship alone would keep me from getting an iPad. What is this, North Korea?

  2. Slowly…… Slowly….. Apple is returning to the 1984 commercial but this time as Big Brother.

    1. As wholly incomprehensible as the commercial itself is (one senses that it’s at least a twenty-first century know-nothing snub of Melville, whose name is by now largely unrecognized), I’ll settle for the one bright spot: that there are still Python fans out there…

  3. I’m surprised they didn’t filter out “Dick.”

    Is this censorship just in the store blurb, or is it also in the book itself? I’m guessing it’s just in the blurb from the lack of outrage, but you don’t say.

    1. Maybe it let “dick” through because it’s a common name. Hell, our last vice president was a dick. That is, his name was Dick. ;-)

  4. “Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness. Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!” — Moby-Dick, Chapter 94, “A Squeeze of the Hand”, I swear I am not making this up.

  5. Just the blurb, I’m sure. This sort of thing is about not offending customers rather than moralizing. The fact that this is such a vague and meaningless target is why the outcomes are often so ridiculous.

  6. I downloaded a surf music tune to my Sprint PCS phone. Now I can listen to Miserlou by D**k Dale any time I want!

  7. Perhaps it is just the blurb, but that does not make it any less appalling. The word sperm, regardless of context, is not something that needs censor; even by the strictest of standards. The fact it is used in a non-sexual way just makes it even that much more ludicrous. Regardless, sexual or not, it cannot be considered profane. Welcome to the Ministry of Truth.

    1. I masturbate every time I read the word ‘sperm’, so it obviously is pervert fodder to let such a word slip through. Now excuse me, I have to go wank off to that ocean of filth called ‘the old testament’.

  8. “The man” is very stupid.

    Essentially when an “offensive” word or phrase is bleeped from a larger text, the censor is encouraging the audience to actively take part in filling in the blank.

    Aristotle and his contemporaries called this an enthememe. Well… actually an enthememe had to be a logical proof where one of the premises or the conclusion was missing. The statesman would pose two (or more) elements of a proof that the audience agreed with and then let the audience provide the final piece themselves. Because the audience had part ownership in the missing element they were more emotionally invested in the idea.

    So by all means, governing bodies and corporate conglomerates, bleep away! ‘Cause “we don’t need no water let the m***er f***er burn! Burn, m***er f***er! Burn!”

    1. “Because the audience had part ownership in the missing element they were more emotionally invested in the idea.”

      What does this say about the bb practice of disemvoweling?

  9. The question is, who did the censoring? Is the seller responsible for writing the blurb and if so, did Project Gutenberg self-censor? Or does Apple apply a “naughty word” filter on all blurbs? Any other uses of “sperm” in other blurbs censored out?

    Nevermind, I just searched on “sperm” in the App Store, and got results for S***m Killer, iCount (S***m), and oddly, iSperm. A filter, but apparently not entirely effective. Stupid.

  10. @Enormo:

    “The man” is very stupid.

    Not at all; he’s getting rich. Evil? Absolutely, but stupid? How come he’s so rich if he’s so stupid?

    1. “The man” is not all the rich. Some The Man owns a corporation and she is the rich. But some The Man is a teacher. Other The Man pushes the pencil around for the government. Other The Man is the voice of millions of church people. Then put them all together and they are still The Man.

      The Man is very stupid.

  11. Look at how they left the word “Essex” untouched! Our children might be permanently traumatized if they remove the first two letters of that word! Imagine your young, impressionable child (who is for some reason reading Moby D***) accidentally putting his or her finger over the first two letters of “Essex” and turning into a deranged s*x maniac!

  12. Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the iPad shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Apple has spoken.

  13. I’m sure it’s not Apple being prudish as much as Apple being afraid of prudes calling for boycotts. They probably figure they’d lose more customers without the filter than with it.

    Translate: it’s more bottom line dollar than big brother.

  14. Don’t be so negative. This is really an opportunity in disguise for people to make up all kinds of innuendo out of clean words. Think of the fun to be had!

  15. Obviously not an Australian nanny, given that in the line above it says that the novel is rooted.

  16. Ugh, so we can return to the era when kids learned “weener” and “thingy” and other googoo gaga euphemisms instead of legit terms.

  17. The worst problem I see is not that Mac is too prudish to say “sperm”, but that their censorship program is so badly made that it cannot allow for “sperm whale” as a single term. Is it really that hard to program a naughty-word detector that conceals “sperm” but allows “sperm whale”, which is hardly an obscure animal? It’s just stupid.

  18. “Mocha Dick, or the Venti White Half-caf Whale.” Starbuck is a character in the novel, so this must be a clever corporate tie-in.

  19. This makes the iPad worthless in terms of being a text book reader. There is sperm all over biology text books.

  20. iBook
    This book is rooted in two true stories..

    Note that the word “root” in Australia is coarse slang for sexual intercourse.

  21. Let’s see. Is it sexual discrimination if they don’t filter e*g, too?

    I’m still trying to figure out “Mocha” Dick. Yet another example of a spell-check gone horribly wrong?

  22. It m**t be r****y h**d to g*t o*e’s p***t a****s w**n t*e m**t of o*e’s m*****e is s*****d o*t.

  23. This article is misleading.

    The iPad has tons of parental controls that can be turned on and set at different levels. This is no different than cable TV controls.I don’t have the controls set on my iPad since I am mostly grown-up. I downloaded this same book and have sperm spelled out all over the place while viewing it in iBook.

  24. I cancelled my Flickr Pro account because in Germany you are now not
    allowed to view nudity (which is legal), but Nazi symbols (which aren’t).

  25. I loathe Apple and have since their restrictive development policies twenty years ago. Ego and artifice combined with pretentiousness.

    Google-“Do no Evil”
    Apple -“Evil Away me boys!”

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