There are many sources of official censorship in today's world: government, religion, big business. But who would have thought the Olympics would be one of them?
After apparently clamping down on "ambush marketing" in Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010, London is gearing up to have official legislation in place to protect official sponsors' highly-priced official sponsorship with the Olympics.
Now, it's not quite 1984 or the burning of books, and you might point out that without safeguards, these official deals wouldn't happen and the Olympics would be short of cash. Also this is aimed around business and big marketing campaigns, and you might wonder why I care about the advertising freedoms of Big Corporation B who lost out in the official sponsorship race (presumably with some inferior slideshow display) to Big Corporation A.
I don't. But what I'd like to know is when the Olympic Movement, which makes a big fuss about its values, got involved in censorship. London is drawing up a two-tier set of words that will be forbidden in the use of advertising, presumably during the run-up to Olympics and the games itself. But for business, any language you use is advertising - where do you draw the line between promotional and non-promotional communication? More to the point, if I was a small business in London, I'd have to shoot myself in the face for not mentioning the Olympics when the 2012 Games comes to town.
One of the things that living in New Zealand has reminded me is that some countries can do grey areas in legislation, such as the proposed liquor ban across the whole of Wellington city (which won't be a total ban, thus arguably pointless and more than a bit ridiculous).
Britain is not one of those countries.
The hard-and-fast reaction to unofficial activity reminds me of the music industry's response to file-sharing over the last 10 years: a system-failure to understand that the official and unofficial can exist at the same time (even now terrified of allowing free access to music, it seems - which begs the question why they're not campaigning against, you know, the RADIO), without the need for a knee-jerk response that hurts innocent people in the process.
I would propose introducing legislation - or, crikey, maybe even using existing legislation - that caters for direct large-scale infringements on a case-by-case basis. Blanket bans on the commercial use of words in an arbitrary timeframe are pointless, lazy and a savage's way of thinking. I mean, seriously, in what way is it acceptable to ban the name of a year?
I invite you all to use the words OLYMPICS GAMES 2012 TWENTY TWELVE LONDON MEDALS GOLD SILVER BRONZE SPONSOR in a potentially-commercial manner between now and the 2012 Olympics.