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Recent Censorship Issues

Deletion of Journals

Having seen this pop up on my friends list a few times yesterday (I'm not really into fandom or roleplaying, so wasn't affected directly) it got me thinking quite a bit about censorship.

I'm going to put aside any issues about journals with more legitimate content and focus on the ones that are promoting illegal activities (not those which actually carry them out though which is a very different matter) and would like to clarify that I don't support these activities at all.

Whenever something like this comes up, I always find myself considering where the balance between freedom of speech and preventing the promotion of activities which most people would consider morally wrong lies. Every time I think this over, I come to the conclusion that freedom of speech has to be put first as this is the main way of questioning these morals.

Surely it would be far better to spend the efforts taken to censor this material in speaking out against it instead? Rather then pushing it underground, push it forward and force people to think about it.

I felt very similarly when Le Pin came to Cambridge to speak at the Union. I totally disagree with his politics, but had no problem with the Union giving him a platform to speak from. At the time a lot of people protested against this, surely the focus should have been on protesting against his politics rather than the Union's provision of a platform?

I understand why livejournal will want to protect themselves against public condemnation for giving a platform to this material and won't want to risk to loss of support of their advertisers. I'm just bothered by the use of censorship on a system, which on the surface appears to be an open platform for free speech.

Much as it might revolt the rest of us, some people do like these things and have these views. However, if they don't carry them out, then surely they are quite within their rights to have and share these?

What we need to do is to encourage such people to restrain from committing these acts. Where's the incentive to do so, if any thoughts about the issue made public will get them treated as if they have carried them out? Surely the aim should be to make them see things from our viewpoint?

People will always have thoughts that are not socially acceptable, surely it's our responsibility to argue against these thoughts rather then hide them away?

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
morganmuffle
31st May, 2007 10:32 (UTC)
Part of this comes down to LiveJournals rather sneaky redefinition of "interests" to be things that you like and are interested in and encourage which would make having those interests a kind of action in-and-of-themselves.

Otherwise I think you're probably right and one of the less talk about elements of the whole mess, though it is being talked about, is that previous to The Great Strikethrough organisations like Perverted Justice and some individuals had tried to get communities and users who obviously were actually "doing" rather than just "talking" banned and were told it wasn't possible. The whole thing has been rather screwed up.

The other thing is that as a private company there are some things that LiveJournal has to protect itself from legally speaking and it's unrealistic to believe they won't.

Perverted Justive, incidentally, were very much on fandom/LJ users side in this. Warriors for Innocence seem to be a rather stupid organisation who are sticking to their guns but who seem to go for sensational rather than actually helpful methods.
hmmm_tea
31st May, 2007 12:38 (UTC)
Freedom of speech means I should be allowed to say things along the lines of "I like pedophilia and think it should be legal" should I want to (which I don't). If I were to take it a step further and actually carry out the act in question then that would be clearly wrong and should be (and is) against the law and action should then be taken against me.

As it is, the statement is questioning our moral standards and encouraging us to think about them, which should be a good thing overall.

OK, it is upto livejournal whether they want these sort of statements published on their site and I can understand why they don't. It's just a shame really.
cartesiandaemon
31st May, 2007 12:02 (UTC)
"People will always have thoughts that are not socially acceptable, surely it's our responsibility to argue against these thoughts rather then hide them away?"

This is making me think about freedom of speech. I think I agree entirely with you. But if we accept that people should be able to talk about unpalatable things, where?

We can say they shouldn't be arrested for talking about it.

And I think a company or person "publishing" like livejournal is at liberty not to take some content if they want, so I don't necessarily object.

But if *all* companies do so (all ISPs, say), then free speech in this medium goes away pop, and if you want people to be able to say it, you have to actively legislate against discrimination...
hmmm_tea
31st May, 2007 12:21 (UTC)
Yes, it's livejournal's server, they own it, they have a right to decide what's published on it. I totally agree and I can understand that given the way they operate they need to maintain a reputable image especially for their advertisers.

It just seems a shame that it has to come down to censorship.
feanelwa
31st May, 2007 12:02 (UTC)
Hm, well I think it's not just a matter of hiding them. Communities of this kind can be used to organise actual abuse; it is also thought by some that people progress to harder sexual media, including of this nature; if there was nowhere to get step 1 it could be argued that there would be fewer people harmed by step 10. I'm not sure whether I agree or not; I think it depends on the nature of the content and the rest of the person's life.
hmmm_tea
31st May, 2007 12:27 (UTC)
I just feel that if society were based around different morals that I didn't agree with then it would be reassuring to know that platforms such as this would allow me to speak my views. I can't see how this can be the case without freedom of speech being total here.

I personally think discuss should be allowed, up to the point when illegal content starts appearing. However, this is probably idealistic as it would be hard for livejournal to monitor and so probably won't happen.

It just seems a shame.
feanelwa
31st May, 2007 12:39 (UTC)
As somebody whose morals are a little different to those on which some societies in the world are based, yes, I am glad LJ allows me to speak my views; but my morals still don't include non-consensual assault. Also, many people who feel urges to do the things that people and communities are being evicted from LJ for, also know on some level that what they feel an urge to do is deeply wrong. On that basis I think it's a bit like anorexia communities; in theory it's good to have support, but in practice it works as reinforcement.
passage
1st Jun, 2007 06:51 (UTC)
Somewhere in the middle of that paragraph you redefined freedom of speech to mean "the freedom to agree with society or me". I so totally disagree. Freedom of speech is about the right to agree with me, you just don't come into it.

Also I don't think anyone's claiming that freedom of speech is nice, only that it's essential to democracy.
passage
1st Jun, 2007 07:00 (UTC)
I had some idea it was Nick Griffin, not Le Pin, perhaps both occured.

After the no platform event a friend sadly remarked that apparently even in Cambridge we couldn't find any effective arguements against racism, and so convinced were we of the intellectual weakness of our case that we felt the only course was to stop any opponent from speaking. It's the intellecual equivalent of stuffing your fingers in your ears and shouting "I'm not listening!"

I growingly perceive (perhaps wrongly) that maany people don't set much store by the freedoms that were once thought so essential. Freedom of speech often doesn't seem respected, I see some successful attacks on freedom of association and freedom of religion (and some unsuccessful ones in fairness). Freedom to protest has been limited. Trial by Jury has been replaced by no actual trial at all in some cases (I get the impression I'm supposed to be upset when people escape from control orders, personally I tend to think "Another strike against the forces of illegal (or at least immoral) oppression!"). I'd go on but I'm afraid of being locked up without trial, or at least banned from LJ.
hmmm_tea
1st Jun, 2007 07:41 (UTC)
Both came and spoke at the Union while I was at Cambridge and there were protests both times against the Union giving them a platform rather than against the views of the speaker. Strange really as I'm sure if we were under that sort of extreme right wing government, many of the people who protested would want to have the same platform to speak their views.
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