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We unfortunately won't ever know the real motivation for making the edits--whether it's soundly thought-out decision by the developers themselves (as you explained before), or it was an edict sent out by a publisher, or it was motivated by fear of backlash.
But I will say that you make a very good argument. Better than most other people I've talked to about this topic. I appreciate well-reasoned arguments.
I work as an artist for a living, so the idea of censorship weighs heavily on me, whether it be by another country or by fear of backlash from a vocal minority. I tend to endorse artistic freedom, but understand the idea of restraining yourself to avoid offending people or to hit a certain ESRB rating. The scary part of this is the gray areas, where you might disagree on what exactly is offensive. We're all different, after all. I just hope for people to be able to choose what is appropriate for themselves, rather than have somebody else decide for them.