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Entries For: March 2007

Microsoft censors Asian culture

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A traditional symbol of oriental culture has been arbitrarily removed from a Microsoft font.


Having a meaning related to well-being, the swastika is widely-used sacred symbol in Dharmic religions. As such, it gained adoption by the Unicode standard and has several computer-recognized Unicode encodings: the Han characters 卍 (code 0x534D) and 卐 (code 0x5350), and the Tibetan character ࿌ (code 0xFCC).

On the Windows platform, a font called “Bookshelf Symbol 7” gathers a number of symbols that can be found in printed works although they rarely are used to write occidental languages. Until recently, this font included two variants of the Han character in positions 0x7E and 0x86:

Original Bookshelf Symbol

Last Friday, I was working on a Windows system and the following dialog opened:

Update dialog

The message “The font has been found to contain unacceptable symbols” was suspicious, and I knew what to expect when I applied the upgrade and restarted the system:

New Bookshelf Symbol

Et voilà, no more swastika. Corporate censorship at work, in the name of political correctness. Damn their stupidity.

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