Wikipedia Article on Cindy's Torment

By Xah Lee. Date:

Cindy's Torment is a torture porn that sparked internet censorship debate in the early 1990s. Wikipedia had a article on this, but it was removed in late 2008 (as of 2009-02-19). The following is a mirror of the article that was on Wikipedia. (slightly edited.)

“Cindy's Torment”, a graphic sex story published in Spring of 1990 on Usenet, led to an early example of censorship in cyberspace. The posting by “Anonymous John”, which described repeated BDSM rape, sparked a debate on the limits of freedom of expression on Usenet.

The story itself details a governmental office relationship where an East Asian secretary is forced by financial pressure to submit into sexual slavery. Despite being posted in “”, the graphic nature, racial element, and non-consensual aspect together combined to spur an outcry. While different readers disagreed on which particular features of the story were decisive in defining the story as “beyond the pale”, the vociferousness of the objections led an unknown technically adept person to erase all trace of the posting from Usenet. This attempted act of censorship proved both the illusory nature of unrestrained freedom on the fledgling Internet and the quixotic aspect of trying to decisively control the spread of content within it. While the erasure of the original posting was technically successful, a thing that had previously been considered impossible, the notoriety of the story ensured continued re-postings of (sometimes degraded) versions saved on the mass storage of the newsgroup's readers. The story also led many institutions such as the University of Waterloo to, for the first time, exclude groups like “” from their Usenet servers. Soon afterwards, Waterloo excluded the entire “alt” hierarchy, although there is dissent about whether this was intended as an act of censorship. This event got occasioned mentioned in major newspapers such as the “Houston Chronicle”.

== References ==

Here's Wikipedia page that discussed the rationale for the deletion: Cindy's Torment.