I originally wrote this poem, a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when I was living in Huzhou back in 2009, just after the riots in Xinjiang catapulted the region into instability and shut down most of the Internet in China. Plate of Wander was, for a time, blocked, along with many other sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Now, almost two years later, the Internet in China is undergoing thorough censorship because of the riots in Egypt, Libya, and across the Middle East. Foreign journalists are being followed and intimidated, and large cities are crawling with police. I’ve heard reference to a “Jasmine Revolution,” but people just aren’t protesting, most likely out of fear of consequences which are certain to be harsh.
My stance on the censorship: I think it’s wrong. As an American, I have been ingrained with the ideas of freedom of speech and assembly. But I understand, in some way, why the government scrubs the Internet so thoroughly: a revolution in China would be almost undoubtedly catastrophic in many ways and would have international repercussions. That’s not to say things shouldn’t be changed–they should be, and I want to see the laobai xing empowered and free.
The poem is intended to be light-hearted and fun, and was adjusted only a smidgen to reflect the current protests instead of the 2009 Xinjiang protests. I encourage readers to let me know their thoughts on the situation in the comments. Lively discussion is welcome, especially if in poetic form.
EveryHu down in Huzhou liked Plate of Wander a lot,
But the Party, who lived North of Huzhou did NOT!
The Party hated Plate of Wander, the whole WordPress host site,
For they worried that freedom of speech would ignite!
Perhaps it was rampant pornography they feared,
Or toward social unrest the country’d be steered.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
Was their egos eclipsed even the Great Wall.
Whatever the reason, the porn or the populace,
They controlled the Internet to ensure people knew less.
The big Hu in charge, one Mr. JT Hu,
Liked many of these sites, but did what he had to do.
Since he had his own proxy, he could Facebook and tweet
And watch Jon Stewart on Youtube, his daily lunch hour treat.
But JT Hu’s favorite site, of which he was fonder,
Was a humble little blog called Plate of Wander.
Such wonderful photos and witty remarks!
It was much better reading than the Party-required Marx.
Each day at work, he secretly waited
In hope that Plate of Wander had been updated.
O the tales that were told! O the food that was eaten!
The quality of blogging just couldn’t be beaten.
But then in Africa the Middle East came riot after riot,
And JT Hu had try to keep cyberspace quiet.
Down with the Facebook! Block off the Twitter!
The Party’s main job became cyber babysitter.
Of course there were sites that plenty would miss,
But the Party’s main motto is ‘Ignorance is Bliss.’
But Hu couldn’t bear it, couldn’t take it at all,
The thought that his beloved Plate of Wander would stall.
So in secret he went to Huzhou to find ellis
(It was secret so that other bloggers wouldn’t be jealous).
He found her with ease, with him everyone’s compliant—
They just told him to look for the waiguo ren giant.
He told her a deal he’d be willing to make:
Her blog in exchange for endless cookies she’d bake.
She whipped up a cake as a “You’ve got it—okay,”
And it was said JT Hu’s waist grew three inches that day.
And his heart felt so light, his spirit so free,
That he decided to unblock the Internet for all to see.