The following meditation on censorship comes from 365 Tao (June 13). It’s been on my mind lately, and Kristina Chew’s recent post The R Word and Not So Nice Language has prompted me to share.
Emperors uphold censorship,
But extreme repression leads to extreme reaction.
Individualists believe in freedom,
But extreme expression leads to extreme reaction.
The challenge, of course, is learning how to live and act in between these two extremes, and how to deal with those who inhabit the extremes.
5 thoughts on “A meditation on censorship”
Right, and where do we find censorship? In the blogs that don’t allow comments that make uncomfortable criticisms of the content of the bloggers writing. That would be the Age of Autism, David Kirby on Huffingtonpost and Facing Autism in New Brunswick. And how about here, do you screen all the comments or not?
Brett, don’t you think it’s time to just go blog on AoA and resign from the hub? That’s not censorship, that’s going to be with your people, right?
I don’t deny that those blogs practice censorship of comments and ideas that don’t match their own. This meditation is as much for them as it is for anyone else.
As for my own comment review practice, I do have spam-control features in place. But any comment that is even remotely on-topic, however uncomfortable or contrary to my own thoughts, I allow. (The spam-control measures do sometimes result in a delay in comments being posted – like this one of yours- but they do get posted.)
As for blogging on AoA, I don’t think they’d have me. They’ve never posted any of my comments, I can’t imagine they would like what I blog.
Most blogs have a comment policy of some kind, written or unwritten.
I don’t see my blog as a place to give voice to predators, or people behaving in certain ways (utter nastiness, intentional or unintentional invasion of privacy, threats, slander and libel, etc). I also explicitly disallow the three strategies I quoted Jim Sinclair about in my comments on your last post — no matter who they’re being applied to (people who agree with me or people who don’t). And I turned it into a gossip-free zone as well, and attempt to enforce that to the best of my ability.
There are still only very few posts I won’t let through, even with all that.
And of the ones I don’t let through, most of those are not because of malicious behavior, but because people write to me on there as if it’s private email sometimes, and sometimes deleting the comment and replying in email is best. (People sometimes even request that.) Or because they’ve unintentionally posted information about either me or themselves that could lead to problems.
And then there’s the huge amount of comments that get eaten by my spam trap, and that occasionally leads to drama when people think I’ve intentionally omitted their posts.
But on the whole I don’t consider these things censorship. I don’t have the power to truly censor anyone, which would mean preventing them from saying it somewhere else too. And most of the things that I disallow are things that would get disallowed in the letters to the editor section of a newspaper as well.
A friend of mine put it best when she wrote, “If on the other hand you believe that autistics.org is wrong in principle, and you want the site shut down or turned into a site about cures/for parents/for children/for only one kind of autistic/for fill-in-the-blank, this discussion list is not a place for your opinion. We will remove people from the list who make it clear that they hate the very idea of autistics.org. This is, after all, our list. We’re paying for it. We can decide what is and is not okay on this list. It’s censorship if the government tells you that you can’t write your message with your pen on your sheet of paper. It’s not censorship when we tell you that you can’t use our pen to write your message on our paper. If you want to attack autistics.org, go buy yourself your own mailing list and have at it all you want.”
I think blogs can be used as a breathing space by anyone who wants to air his or her thoughts. After all, you cannot fight with every body, nor should you do so.
I say, go and open your blog and blast away your thoughts.
There is so much that suffocates you, that burns you from the inside out. You cannot fight with powers that be, you cannot fight with Bush, you cannot fight with all Bin Ladens, but you can surely raise your voice!
You can create your community of like minded people. Maybe there are many there who are waiting only for an opportunity to speak, maybe your blog will become a gathering place of for people who will topple many governments, who will disturb many status quos, who just don’t know how powerful their combined voice can be.
This is my ode for the free voice, freedom to speak, dammit speak anything in which you believe, and why not!
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