This is censorship, when the US government blocks websites relating to Cuba.
This is censorship, when the Chinese government blocks all kinds of websites.
This is censorship, when the Australian government bans a video game.
This? Me deleting a comment that defended bigotry? This not censorship. It’s adhering to the comment policy that was already laid out at the time of original posting. It’s keeping my sandbox clean of shit I’d rather not host, and that might sicken the people playing here.
The comment policy read, in part, thusly:
Within this comment policy, there is room for disagreement and debate, and abundant room for discussion and developing our feminist discourse; there is only a dearth of room for discrimination or the defense thereof.
As Amber Strocel says, “Even the newspaper doesn’t print every letter to the editor. Your sandbox, your rules, your call!”
And, basically, that’s what it comes down to. I am not a government, nor a government agency. I do not have a captive audience here. I am not in a position of power or in possession of a monopoly of a method of communication. My decision to uphold my comment policy is so far from an act of censorship that the very suggestion should be laughable.
But somehow, it isn’t. I’m not laughing. Something is fundamentally wrong with a society that thinks that free speech entitles one to say anything one likes, even when it directly contributes to the oppression of others — or defends the same. You know the line about your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins? Same deal with words: when what you say contributes to a social environment in which my nose might be smashed in (or my friends murdered), I have a problem with that. When your words defend another’s right to spout that hate, I have a problem with that.
Do I believe in government censorship? I think it is extremely problematical. I am entirely in favor of libraries’ defense of the right to read anything. But I’m entirely opposed to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded building (unless, of course, there’s actually a fire). Somewhere in there, there is a line. Can I say where I think government should draw the line? No; fortunately for all, I don’t have to.
My only line to draw is much simpler, because the only penalty for breaking it is the inability to post here: no lives are, hah, on the line. This is my comment policy, updated for clarity; this is where I draw my line. I like to think it’s all pretty self-evident, but obviously, given recent comments, ’tain’t so. Now, I know that the folk most likely to break my standards of behavior are those least likely to read a comment policy, but they can’t say it wasn’t there.
I don’t much care if anyone calls me a dictator, or accuses me of censorship, or says I’m on a power trip, or spouts whatever other falsehoods they like. It’s a sort-of free net. Blogs are free. Go wild.
Just don’t do it here. And for the last time, no, that’s not censorship.