Only Cowards Censor their Blog Readers!

The most irritating part of the blogosphere is when I read something, really want to comment on it, and realize my comment will never be. I have been censored. The blog author didn’t like my opinion so what I had to say will never fall upon the eyes of the readers.

Of course monitoring for SPAM comments makes sense, but what I am talking about is the deliberate censorship of ideas.

Yes Men
Who wants to be surrounded by yes men? What good does it do us? If we censor comments that directly prevents the spread of ideas. Problems are never solved, minds are never made up, and our ability to gain intelligence dies.

Aren’t hearing those very ideas, even when controversial or opposite your own, important? Those very ideas force you to defend your own, becoming more sure of yourself, or force you to realize your previous opinion was wrong. So why not allow all comments?

Who’s doing the censoring?
It seems like people on all ends of the spectrum are doing it. Both liberals and conservatives – which I find ironic since both, I would guess, would argue the high value of free speech. Yet some people do not offer the same freedoms to their readers!

Take two examples of blog policies I stumbled upon recently:

From http://nonsequiteuse.wordpress.com/about/

A note about comments
I do not automatically publish all comments on my blog. This may come as a shock, so brace yourself: the ones I tend to delete are those I do not agree with or do not like. I am not the government, so my refusing to publish your comment does not in any way affect your right to free speech. Start your own damn blog if you’ve got something to say – the internet is a big place and I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

From http://amoraloutrage.wordpress.com/about/

I ask that you don’t denigrate or offend my sense on this blog. There are plenty of other places to spew your vile if you’ve a mind to and if I don’t like your comment, I won’t post it. But maybe writing it will make you feel better anyway. Sort of like writing a flaming letter and then throwing it away without it being sent…. And besides, I’m not asking you to agree with me or even read this blog but, I hope you enjoy getting another perspective on things going on in the world. Come back often.

Commenting Policy on this Blog
1. Comments are monitored by wordpress.com’s built-in spam filter. That means comments that wordpress thinks might be spam are flagged. Including links, advertisements, etc. – since many spammers post links to harmful stuff. Sometimes WordPress mis-flags a comment and I do my best to find those comments and approve them.
2. All other comments make it to the site. Even ones I disagree with. Period.

Simple enough?

Why does this matter?
Sure, most of our blogs are small and almost inconsequential on the grand scheme of things so why does some jerk’s commenting policy matter? The problem is the overarching issue of people’s willingness to not practice what they preach. If you run a conservative blog advocating liberty you damned well better NOT limit the speech of your readers! It is up to every individual to not only demand liberty, but also practice it when they have the power to do so. That includes the spread of ideas in each of our own little pieces of the internet.

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8 thoughts on “Only Cowards Censor their Blog Readers!

  1. Rattlesnake

    There are many legitimate reasons to delete comments or ban certain people from commenting, but I agree that disagreement is not a good one. I can’t say for certain because I don’t read left-wing blogs, but I’ve heard many left-wing blogs (such as Daily Kos) usually delete comments containing opposing points of view, where as conservative blogs more often let such comments stand. That isn’t surprising, because it is said that leftists want conservatives to shut up, and conservatives want leftists to keep talking.

    Reply
    1. Atticus Finch Post author

      I have personally found throughout the blogsphere both conservatives and liberals are equally guilty of censoring blog comments. The one exception I have found (and have searched for) is those who are strong advocates of individual liberty – they usually have a very open commenting policy. If I found one who didn’t – they would her from me…

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Freedom of speech and the importance of private property « Unhampered Market

  3. jon

    Disagreements – I’m with you 100%.

    But here’s an example of where I did delete non-spam comments. Someone who knew me from work found my blog. (My real name is in my About page). Well, she (i have a strong hunch – it’s a she, but posted as ‘anonymous’) would put things like this “Oh, you sound so understanding in this post. That’s not how I remember you at all. In fact I remember you being rude and ….” And then it got worse in other comments. I was tempted to leave the comments, and to respond saying that if I was rude … then I apologize. And really, people would probably have enjoyed seeing someone who knew me leave nasty comments on my posts (I’d enjoy seeing this on someone else’s blog …. 🙂 )
    But I just couldn’t hack it — I ended up checking out my blog comments with the dread of another hate-comment from someone who didn’t just dislike my views, but disliked me personally! 🙂

    Nah. Life’s too short for that.

    Reply
  4. jon

    That’s when I added “comment moderation”. Problem solved. And after about a week, the comments stopped since they weren’t showing up on the blog (the behavior ‘extinguished’). Now I have the moderation turned off again, but I’m glad to have that capacity just in case.

    Reply
    1. Atticus Finch

      “Comment Moderation” is not my beef. In your case I think you were justified. My problem is “idea moderation”. But of course you have a right to protect your personal life!

      Reply
  5. philebersole

    Atticus, one of my big disappointments in my own web log is that I get so few comments from people who disagree with me. I would like to have a debate. And it doesn’t seem reasonable for me to expect other people to be open to my ideas, if I am not willing to at least consider their opinions.

    I went to the two blogs you cited in your post, and I noticed that they got no comments on the posts I looked at. Why am I not surprised?

    Your distinction between comment moderation and idea moderation is an important one. Abusive commenters can drive away the more civil commenters. I don’t get enough comments for this to be a problem on my own web log, but I once led a discussion group in which one loud, angry guy drove away other potential participants; he was a good guy, but he couldn’t control himself.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates, who blogs for the Atlantic Monthly, and Daniel Larison, who blogs for the American Conservative, have excellent comment threads. They spend a lot of time weeding out abusive, offensive and irrelevant comments so that polite and rational commenters feel welcome.

    The Making Light blog “disemvowels” offensive comments. They are still there to read, but with consonants only, so you have to take the trouble to figure out what they’re saying. Andrew Sullivan does not open The Dish for comments, but he posts some of the better, critical comments he receives by e-mail.

    I would like to say to Rattlesnake that I consider myself more on the left than on the right, and I would welcome his comments on my blog.

    Reply
    1. Atticus Finch

      Hi Phil,

      A lot of what you say I find myself agreeing with, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I disagree – especially for a good debate (which we have had before…)

      Reply

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