Censorship, A Failure?

Freedom is something that most if not all of the top countries strive to underscore. Any good business will also do their best to ensure the same. There’s been some unfortunate censorship trends happening over the Internet and we are entering a very “touchy” realm that we have to be mindful of. As much as we don’t like facebook censoring users, they have every right to do so. Just as we have every right to use another platform.

The justice warriors out there sometimes go a little extreme, using ‘freedom of speech’ as an excuse to berate others. Or want to push laws or require facebook not censor users, which would be taking a different freedom away from facebook and the owner(s).

As always, we need some healthy gray area. We do not want to censor anything. However, are their situations that could arise that influence our decision to censor? Maybe.

Imagine you are in a restaurant with your family, you have a couple kids around 3-5 years old. Someone comes into the restaurant and sits next to you all, and starts talking about how they hate your race. The person looks over to your table and says, without being angry or intimidating, more of a matter-of-fact voice; “No offense, but your race just sucks. You all probably don’t even know how to begin to be better.”  You analyze the situation, and figure something needs to be said. So also in a matter-of-fact voice you say; “No offense, but I think you may need to see a psychologist.” You hoped the interaction would just fizzle, so you can continue with your dinner but of course the person continues with more banter about why your race sucks. You ask the person if they could just let it be, so you can enjoy your meal, but they won’t stop. The person is not being outright nasty, but it’s very annoying and they clearly want to get their point across. You instead ask the staff if you could be moved to another table away; and you finally part ways with the annoying person. “All’s well that ends well” you think and continue on with your meal and time with the family.

Now imagine a slightly different scenario where the berating annoying person decides to amp up their emotions, starts to get angry and frustrated, starts to curse, and says whatever the most obscene things you can think of to your kids. They don’t look like they plan to get up and fight, but they are one gesture away from it. They just won’t stop yelling and saying nasty, disrespectful things about you and your kids. You of course would want to do some pretty nasty things to this person by now. Things likely won’t end well, no matter how much in the right you are.

And so we enter censorship. Even with the first scenario, people have a tendency to want to censor. However, since the person wasn’t being overtly nasty or provoking, there’s no reason to have them removed, e.g. censored. They may be racist, but they are entitled to their opinion and to express that opinion. Clearly they should have better manners, and read the situation to know that was not the time or place, but nevertheless, censoring is not necessary.

However in the second situation, it is becoming more extreme; emotions are clearly getting evoked. Is it a tougher decision about censorship? What’s the difference? Despite what we see as vastly different, it’s actually much more difficult to discern where the line is. Some will want to draw the line at cursing, but it’s not simply ‘cursing’. Other’s will want to draw the line at the obscene things said about you and your kids. Would you want them to be ‘censored’ if possible in that situation? If you could just press a button and not have to hear them spew whatever obscenities cross their mind?

You may have noticed there’s still something missing we haven’t addressed… It’s the fact that perspective is a strongly differentiating factor. What does “obscene” mean? What does “angry and frustrated” mean? What is a “curse”? What does someone look like when they are about to fight or threaten you? What does “disrespectful” mean? Why does it matter that they were angry or frustrated? And who is this “person”?

The point is to some, cursing is the norm, and so the vast majority of cursing would not be considered “obscene”. For others, talking about sex is obscene without cursing. To some, physical harm is a very fast next step after these ‘obscenities’. While for others, it would take much more.

The thing is, it is imperative to understand that 100 different people could answer all of those questions 100 different ways. The ‘who’ for some people is also significant to determine the need for censorship. If the person was a 7 year old boy, vs a 30 year old man vs a 30 year old with a mental disorder… Would they all get censored the same, should they? Who can answer these questions, and how can we have the audacity to say we know the best answer for the masses?

How are we supposed to determine what is censored when everyone has such vastly different ways of interpreting what should / shouldn’t be censored? This is sounding more and more like it just isn’t our call, and as such we have to say no, to censorship no matter how berating and annoying. Although we don’t agree with facebook censorship, we empathize and understand how difficult it would be to try and walk that line.

We have no desire to censor, but we also know that there are things out there that we just don’t want to see or hear about, at least not in our forum. Having some form of ‘filtership’ is something that we would love to have instead of censorship. Something akin to covering up a spoiler and the over 18 tags. If you want to see the content that is ‘flagged’, you have to select it deliberately through a filter. That way we don’t have to censor, we could just move to another ‘room’.

So what are we going to do about censorship? Nothing… At least we have no intentions of censoring currently. If we ever do make the decision to censor, best believe we’ll write a post about it and how we came to the decision. We have to have people actually following and posting comments first anyway, so let us know what you think! Let’s see how things go, despite not having any intention to censor, we acknowledge that, “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.” -Mike Tyson

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