It’s not censorship when it’s a personal decision over privately owned space

aka One More Time For The Clueless!

It’s been a while since I’ve made this point, but every now and then some twerp whose comment has been declined for publication, or perhaps redacted via disemvoweling, feels the need to attempt to continue disrupting the discussion by chastising us with the full weight of hir woeful misunderstanding of the doctrine of freedom of speech and what does or does not constitute censorship e.g. with this comment on the same thread as that linked above, a comment that was not published there:

>STOP INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN AUSTRALIA!!
>Censor posts arguing against your foolish sense of ideology

Makes perfect fucking sense.

There has developed a wide belief that freedom of speech means more than freedom from government suppression of dissenting opinion, for some weird reason – that it somehow means that anybody who responds to one’s opinion with their own opinion that one has just proven oneself to be a flaming nong is somehow suppressing free speech instead of contributing more examples of it. How utterly bizarre to insist that freedom of expression should come with a guarantee of freedom from equally freely expressed criticism.

Tangential to the above there arises the oddest misunderstanding of all about free speech in the internet age: the belief that submitting a comment for publication on an internet discussion forum (hosted on privately owned hardware and operating via privately owned software) is somehow equivalent to speaking in a public square. Those who have fallen for this twaddle thus conclude that any forum publisher/editor/moderator who declines to publish a submitted comment is committing an evil oppression of individual rights. For people trumpeting the primacy of their own individual rights to express themselves as they see fit they seem utterly illogically inconsistent on the individual rights of others to host only what they see fit: it’s nearly always the privatise-everything crowd who most vociferously insist on being granted open slather in other people’s forums.

Free speech” has never meant that individuals or corporations are obliged to provide a forum for speech they find obnoxious on privately owned property.

Image of text: "Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but, unlike charity, it should end there."  CLARE BOOTH LUCENewspapers don’t publish every Letter to the Editor, blog-owner/operators are similarly entitled to decline to publish any submitted comment/contribution that fails to meet their standards for publication, whatever those standards might be. Just because we invite people to access our property and participate in forums that we host, this does not mean that we have given up the right to stand up for ourselves and for our other guests by refusing access/participation to contributions that we find disruptive. Our blog is our property: others don’t get to bully us into hosting content we find unacceptable.

Of course others remain totally free to express their disapproval of our stance on their own blog(s) or other private publications, which we will never ever demand that the government shuts down to prevent anyone from criticising us. Indeed, should any government attempt to prevent any critics of ours from publishing their opinions on their own private property, or on the private property of others who find their contributions to be acceptable content, then we would condemn said government vociferously.

So actually, Mr Whiny McTrollyPants, there is absolutely no inconsistency between us declining to publish your vexatious nonsense unredacted and us advocating no government-imposed mandatory censorship of the internet in this blog’s sidebar/banner area.

Thank you for playing.



Categories: education, ethics & philosophy, media

Tags: , ,

25 replies

  1. Maybe Whiny McTrolly pants can start their own blog to complain about us, which we will then cheerfully ignore. That’s half the fun.
    I just don’t understand why trolls don’t understand that I wouldn’t invite them into my loungeroom to shout at me and my blog or blogs where I co-blog are the same. My space, my rules. Start your own blog or shout in your own loungeroom.

  2. I see, so If Google suddenly decided to begin censoring searches and websites, and your ISP decided to follow suit, then it would be perfectly fine? lrn/2/netneutrality

    • What exactly do you mean by “perfectly fine”?
      Would I approve of it? No.
      Would I argue that they have no legal right to do it? No.
      Would I seek alternatives? Yes.
      Would I loudly promote those alternatives to all and sundry? Yes.
      P.S. They would be filtering the searches and websites they display, not censoring them, because They’re Not The Government.

  3. Nice straw man you got there Sho Nuff.

    • Sure is, Mindy – again the inconsistent logic. How does he propose preventing private corporations from filtering the content that they provide using their own technology? Does he propose imposing non-filtering on private corporations by force?
      Name and shame, by all means. Lobby for boycotts and publicise alternatives far and wide. Spread criticism and condemnation using all avenues.
      But it’s no liberty at all to compel others to host anything that they do not want to host. You host what you want, they host what they want, and we can all tell everybody who hosts stuff we don’t like that they can continue to be as wrong as they like in their own spaces so long as they don’t insist on shoving it into our spaces.

  4. Sweet Lord on a monocycle, Sho Nuff. Lrn/2/LOGIC. Your argument makes absolutely *no* sense in the context of what was written in this post. *laugh*

  5. One classic phrasing of the principle is that freedom of the press belongs to the owner of the press. Fortunately, in this Internet era, that’s pretty much everyone who wants one. I’m not entitled to the use of yours. I don’t know if the flap over Dr. Laura Schlessinger got much play outside the US, but her whine is a classic and high-profile example of crying “censorship” when her words draw fire.
    On the subject of ‘Net neutrality, there is a narrow instance where “censorship” can be performed by private actors — when there is a monopoly or oligopoly with the means to control the means of expression. In that case, it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure access. In the case of the broadcast airwaves, the government has had, through licensing, the responsibility to ensure access to diverse voices, even if they’ve often failed in that responsibility.
    In most American cities, there are only two companies offering high-speed internet access — the telephone company or the cable company. All the other providers are using their infrastructure. If those two companies deny access, in the absence of an alternative, that is censorship in effect if not in the most literal interpretation; the government has not only a passive obligation to refrain from violating freedom of speech, but an affirmative obligation to protect it.

  6. Please note that I’m referring solely to the backbone — the airwaves or, in this case, the pipes. Bringing it back to blogs, Web sites or other fora, anyone can set one up, and there’s no legitimate government interest or justification in regulating content. You have a right to access the Internet, not to access my audience via my resources.

  7. I blogged briefly on Dr Laura last month, Notgruntled – access to nationally syndicated broadcasts was not quite what the Bill of Rights had in mind when it referred to free speech, was it?
    Nice distinction about the backbone (infrastructure) of the internet versus the publishers using it: there is definitely a public interest in keeping the infrastructure open/neutral, or at least ensuring sufficient competition that there is genuine choice. But that is, as you made clear, an entirely different thing to some twerp feeling that they have some right to use my online resources without following my rules.

  8. Perhaps the commenter quoted in the post would like to give Senator Conroy and Jim Wallace a login to their blog, or at least free rein in comments?

  9. I am with you all the way, but you’re using way too many words to do any more than preach to the converted.
    I recommend the liberal use of MS Paint.

  10. It isn’t a straw man if your argument definitely implies it. The servers/services aren’t your, and are private property. According to you the owners can censor it if they want. I mean, it’s theirs. This isn’t some out there idea either. In the US ISPs have already begun talks of levels of access to the internet based on priced packages, with content being blocked as premium/ bandwith limits being put in place. But it’s theirs right. They can do it. Seeing as noone is forcing them, it wouldn’t bother you.
    >Censorship is fine unless the government is forcing it.
    All bullshit aside, an intelligent conversation cannot take place if all opposing views are blocked to make you look good.

    • It was a strawman because you moved the goalposts from an argument about publishers to an argument about the pipes. Notgruntled nailed that one upthread – [edited for clarity=>] you have a right to access the Internet, you don’t have a right to access our audience using our resources.

      All bullshit aside, an intelligent conversation cannot take place if all opposing views are blocked to make you look good.

      If all you wanted was to make an opposing argument on the slut-shaming thread, then why did you make it in such vexatiously abusive language? That’s not furthering the discussion, that’s just flaming. I don’t have to publish obnoxious content, and I won’t. If you want to recast your argument there in more considered phrases and dropping the obnoxious slurs, then it will probably be published and you can engage in a discussion of your views. If all you want to do is chuck abuse around, then such comments will be deleted.
      My space, my rules.

  11. Oh, Tigtog, honey, you are awesome. *fans self* Wooh!

  12. You complain too damn much. Try shutting up and you won’t get so many comments.

  13. One comment behavior on these blog run by people who want other people to do things for them, even when it’s inconvenient, is constant complaining, even snarking, and certainly speaking disrespectfully from a position of want, which is probably almost never a good way to make friends. Then you become incredulous when people flame your blog. Really?

    • I’m never incredulous that twerps might want to flame my blog. I’m just saying that they can’t bully me into publishing it when they do.
      Of course, if it’s entertaining enough to be mock-fodder, I probably will publish it. Disrespectfully. Like your incoherent criticism above.
      What exactly is anybody here wanting you to do for them that would be so inconvenient?

  14. We’re being told how to run this blog by a sparkly vampire!

  15. Ha! That occurred to me too Napalmnacey!

  16. “We’re being told how to run this blog by a sparkly vampire!”
    He even has similar attitudes towards women as those found in those excruciatingly bad vampire “novels”!
    Also, he seems confused – “speaking disrespectfully from a position of want, which is probably almost never a good way to make friends” – apparently he thinks we want to be friends with Trolly McTrollypants like him? Much confusions!

  17. He’ll be taking parts out of our cars next and telling us that he has the skin of a KILLER.

    • Edward does seem to think that I particularly want Sho Nuff to leave comments here, that I’m the one initiating the interaction, and that me laying out guidelines on acceptable content is asking Sho Nuff to do something for me.
      Edward, you have it arse about regarding who wants something from somebody else here. I don’t care whether Sho Nuff comments or not. He’s the one who wanted something from me, i.e. to publish his comment.

  18. Maybe Edward thinks asking someone do leave polite comments is asking too much? I hope Edward doesn’t bother coming back.

  19. i love the disemvoweling concept! very nice!

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