But Seriously, Ladies and Germs

Okay, I had my fun with my last essay about censorship. But this one is serious. I am contemplating this question. When, if ever, is censorship appropriate?

For the following examples, I'm using a 3-tiered answer:

  • Clearly free speechifying
  • Worthy of admin deletion
  • Deserves immediate banning

Example 1

A political website, let's call it z33, acquires a new member. This member posts a disquisition in which they write the following.

The owners of this site are pizza-loving pedos that sell children to traffickers in order to gain entry to orgies. President Trump is on to them and will deal with them and this devil-worshipping site harshly in The Storm.

[In case you think this example far-fetched, QAnon was founded on that very conspiracy theory. See: Wikipedia - QAnon]

What do you think? Speechifying, deletion, or banning.

Example 2

A long-term member of z33 publishes the following disquisition on the site. z33 is a site frequented by persons of all political persuasions but leans progressive.

I was raised Catholic. I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe life begins shortly after conception. I believe abortion should be considered baby murder, especially when performed after the germinal stage.

Your verdict? Speechifying, deletion, or banning.

Example 3

A z33 member feels strongly about a topic. This member aligns politically with many on the site but can be a bit strident. Her disquisition follows.

You f**kers just don't understand how wrong you are. Anyone that doesn't feel the same way about this topic as I do is f**ked in the cranium. If you and me were in the same location in meatspace, I'd kick you in the teeth until you accepted reality.

Final answer? Speechifying, deletion, or banning.

How to Participate

It would be quite nice if you posted a comment below with your assessment of the 3 examples and anything you'd care to add. My opinion is that free speech ends when it impacts the freedom, safety, or finances of an innocent person or persons. For instance, "Joe Blow won't find a job because he wants free stuff from the government" is free, although ugly, speech. "Let's go to Joe Blow's place and burn it down with him inside because he wants free stuff from the government" merits censorship. And possibly arrest.

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Comments

thanatokephaloides's picture

My opinion is that free speech ends when it impacts the freedom, safety, or finances of an innocent person or persons. For instance, "Joe Blow won't find a job because he wants free stuff from the government" is free, although ugly, speech. "Let's go to Joe Blow's place and burn it down with him inside because he wants free stuff from the government" merits censorship. And possibly arrest.

Dingdingdingdingding! Hop across that thar "4-Corners" and grab yerself a Marijuana! Smile

(I live in Colorado; I can say that!)

Certain c99ers apparently see nothing wrong with openly permitting the latter. Bad

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

edg's picture

@thanatokephaloides

We passed Prop 207 in November legalizing personal marijuana as of April 5. We had medical for a few years before that. If only we could get the Feds to legalize it nationwide....

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snoopydawg's picture

Does this fit the description?

It sure looks like powerful corporations are acting as one. And the people who replied to the tweet don’t have a problem with it and instead think things should go farther even. Scary.

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8 users have voted.

“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

edg's picture

@snoopydawg

Public persons have a much harder time suing for slander and libel than private citizens do. (See Wikipedia entry down below.) From the opposite direction, since politicians benefit enormously from society, with many becoming millionaires during or after office, should their speech that demonstrably displays reckless disregard for the truth be immune from consequence?

The questions regarding campaign fund raising thus become:

  1. What level of protection does a public figure deserve regarding the raising of campaign funds?
  2. Is solicitation of money from donors protected speech?
  3. Should intermediaries such as credit card processors be limited in their free association rights?

[EdG note: I run a small online store that accepts credit cards. My card acceptance contract specifies things I can't do. If I do those things, they will cancel my account.]

A public figure is a person, such as a politician, celebrity, social media personality, or business leader, who has a certain social position within a certain scope and a significant influence and so is often widely of concern to the public, can benefit enormously from society, and is closely related to public interests in society.

In the context of defamation actions (libel and slander) as well as invasion of privacy, a public figure cannot succeed in a lawsuit on incorrect harmful statements in the United States unless there is proof that the writer or publisher acted with actual malice by knowing the falsity or by reckless disregard for the truth. The legal burden of proof in defamation actions is thus higher in the case of a public figure than in the case of an ordinary person.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@edg

Is solicitation of money from donors protected speech?

Isn't it a form of commercial speech, exempt from free speech and also arguably subject to truth in advertising laws, feeble as they may be? Asking for a friend (humms a couple of choruses of friend of the devil to himself)

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

edg's picture

@enhydra lutris

Commercial speech is a form of protected communication under the First Amendment, but it does not receive as much free speech protection as forms of noncommercial speech, such as political speech.

Commercial speech, as the Supreme Court iterated in Valentine v. Chrestensen (1942), had historically not been viewed as protected under the First Amendment. This category of expression, which includes commercial advertising, promises, and solicitations, had been subject to significant regulation to protect consumers and prevent fraud. Beginning in the 1970s, however, the Supreme Court gradually recognized this type of speech as deserving some First Amendment protection.

In Bigelow v. Virginia (1975), the Supreme Court ruled that an individual had the right to advertise in Virginia the availability of abortion services in New York although the procedures were at the time illegal in Virginia. Justice Harry A. Blackmun observed, “The existence of commercial activity, in itself, is no justification for narrowing the protection of expression secured by the First Amendment.”

More: The First Amendment Encyclopedia

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enhydra lutris's picture

@snoopydawg

like visa and mastercard have long refused to process payments to dope peddlers (pot shops) because illegal. Since Trump's various websites have been practicing fraud in the inducement, perhaps they have a point. Besides, though the Supremes think bribes are free speech, private enterprise needn't agree.

Just adding info, not taking a position or a positron thereby.

be well and have a good one

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7 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

edg's picture

@enhydra lutris

Stripe is a merchant services provider. They provide the sales terminals and web apps that let companies charge a person's Visa or other credit card.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@edg

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

snoopydawg's picture

@snoopydawg

Public persons have a much harder time suing for slander and libel than private citizens do.

Companies not tied to social media are punishing Trump for what happened on the 6th. Spotify won't let him sell his products. His email company won't let him use his list. The PGA cancelled a tourney at his golf course. I am seeing lots of actions against him that will hurt him financially. Look I don't give a rat's ass about Trump, but what is happening to him do we want them to be able to de-platform anyone for any reason? People are pissed off course, but is this the best way to clear up the horrible rot and corruption in the country? It wasn't just Trump that got us to where we are today. Should Obama be punished for lying to us about what he'd do in office? Bush got off destroying a country that never threatened ours. Why is Trump so different?

But seriously if Trump is so dangerous that Pence has to remove him, but wont and the dems will impeach him but not for over 100 kinda puts paid to the immediate withdrawal for our safety don't you think? He either is or he is not. Not sort of dangerous. It just seems so manipulative about what's happening. I say we slow down and watch what comes.

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4 users have voted.

“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

edg's picture

@snoopydawg

I used defamation as a jumping off point to compare and contrast with a public official's immunity from censorship. As Uncle Ben told Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility". If Trump abused his great responsibility, which I believe he did -- and I agree with your complaint about Obama et. al -- does appropriate redress for Trump's words and actions include loss of the presidential megaphone?

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enhydra lutris's picture

@edg

megaphone? (And, in this instance, isn't that a MAGAphone?)

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4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

edg's picture

@enhydra lutris

I suspect it might have started with Bush using a megaphone at the WTC in 2001. Here's an article where it's used about Obama. And yes, Trump's was a MAGAphone. Smile

President Gets Big Megaphone But May Be Tuned Out

So, does having the biggest megaphone in the country do the president any good?

To be fair, it's hard to imagine that any president could have pulled the markets out of that nosedive with a speech. But here's the thing: As a rule, presidential speeches tend not to change the course of events.

That's true whether we're talking about the markets or about public opinion, says George Edwards, a political scientist at Texas A&M University.

Source: NPR

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thanatokephaloides's picture

Example 1

A political website, let's call it z33, acquires a new member. This member posts a disquisition in which they write the following.

The owners of this site are pizza-loving pedos that sell children to traffickers in order to gain entry to orgies. President Trump is on to them and will deal with them and this devil-worshipping site harshly in The Storm.

[In case you think this example far-fetched, QAnon was founded on that very conspiracy theory. See: Wikipedia - QAnon]

What do you think? Speechifying, deletion, or banning.

Banning. Publicly. Followed immediately by invocation of local police SVU and FBI. The likelihood that this message is one of projection -- a real pedo who sells children to traffickers and then attempts to use libel/slander to throw the authorities off the scent -- cannot and must not be ignored.

Additionally, "communications" of this sort are slanders/libels, and, the Communications Decency Act notwithstanding, expose site owners to civil liability. Toleration is a no-no.

Example 2

A long-term member of z33 publishes the following disquisition on the site. z33 is a site frequented by persons of all political persuasions but leans progressive.

I was raised Catholic. I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe life begins shortly after conception. I believe abortion should be considered baby murder, especially when performed after the germinal stage.

Your verdict? Speechifying, deletion, or banning.

Speechifying. User takes responsibility for message and contents, states that it is hir position, does not threaten others. Site operators in the clear. Message is OK.

Example 3

A z33 member feels strongly about a topic. This member aligns politically with many on the site but can be a bit strident. Her disquisition follows.

You f**kers just don't understand how wrong you are. Anyone that doesn't feel the same way about this topic as I do is f**ked in the cranium. If you and me were in the same location in meatspace, I'd kick you in the teeth until you accepted reality.

Final answer? Speechifying, deletion, or banning.

Banning, followed by notification to User's local police. This message contains an express threat of violence over a mere difference of opinion. Site owners/operators DO NOT need to be aiding or abetting such users, even temporarily. Moreover, it sounds like this user is in need of some serious inpatient psychiatric help.

DISCLOSURE: I owned and operated bulletin-board systems in the 1980s and 1990s, during the FidoNet Era.

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

edg's picture

@thanatokephaloides

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Raggedy Ann's picture

bringing examples from TOP. They ban everything!!! Pleasantry

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"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." E.M.Foster

edg's picture

@Raggedy Ann

TOP is the Mikey of political blogs. They hate EVERYTHING!! Unless it aligns 100% with their viewpoint, that is.

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warnings for a first offense, i.e., the reason we didn't put through your comment was that it violated our policy, please see.... Second, don't allow profanity. That alone will discourage the folks who just want to act out their tantrums.

The first example is a personal attack, and merits a warning, with the text not put through. The second is merely a statement of someone's personal beliefs and ought to be allowed, even if the majority of the posters disagree. The third could be met with either a warning or outright banning, as the poster ought to have read the forum's rules.

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Nastarana

edg's picture

@Nastarana

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polkageist's picture

1. Deletion: with a clear warning about acceptable speech and veiled threats and the real possibility of banning if it happens again. Probably a good idea to let the police know about someone who seems to be hallucinating.

2. Speechifying. This position is held by sincere believers without any hint of aggression.

3. Banning: You say "her" when you describe the member. I don't think this gender specificity makes much difference. I've studied karate and have seen just how much mayhem women can be capable of. They can also have a mean, large boyfriend. She has made an obvious threat of bodily harm if the opportunity arises. The police are interested in open threats of violence.

I have no experience with looking at posts in this way and I'm old, so my experience is with people talking directly to me or sending me emails or letters. On that basis, I find the first person to be probably a disturbed bluffer whereas the third person could actually come after me physically. But I've also found that most people talk far tougher than they are willing to act. Nowadays I have to factor in that times have changed and the Capitol has been attacked and policemen wounded and killed. Also that I had a young man who I have reason to suspect was a Proud Boy or wannabe who challenged me to fight when I was manning a table for Bernie before the 2016 election. I was 81 at the time and the other man at the table was older than I. I'm not sure what the young man was proud of.

This was an interesting exercise edg.

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-Greed is not a virtue.
-Socialism: the radical idea of sharing.
-Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John F. Kennedy, In a speech at the White House, 1962

edg's picture

@polkageist

I agree that most "Proud Boys" are mostly talk. But as we saw last Wednesday, it only takes a small percentage going from talking to acting to wreak havoc on our society. I hope the person that harassed you at the Bernie table embraces peace someday.

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RantingRooster's picture

with your thought experiment.

You have not outlined, nor defined, the terms of service for the website, so at this point, I would not even waste my time.

It's important to make the distinction between a contractual remedy for a contract violation, and censorship for differing points of view.

And I think that's where this confusion is coming from, imho.

That said...

“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”
― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

(snark on)
But then again...

1. What kind of pizza was it?
2. If god wanted me to do something, she would tell her himself.
3. Who pissed in your Wheaties this morning?
(snark off)

Drinks

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C99, my refuge from an insane world. #ForceTheVote

edg's picture

@RantingRooster

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RantingRooster's picture

@edg then "censorship" is a personal judgement call. A TOS spells out what is acceptable behavior for a given on line community. No rules, then expect all kind of crazy shit to be posted and spending your day "moderating" comments. "Context" matters.

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C99, my refuge from an insane world. #ForceTheVote

edg's picture

@RantingRooster

TOS is needed and every site that allows posting has one. But no TOS can cover every eventuality, so the censorship judgement usually depends on site owners & moderators and the user community.

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RantingRooster's picture

@edg

so the censorship judgement usually depends on site owners & moderators and the user community.

I have no problem with that. Personally I would warn people first. Maybe even give them 3 chances and let them know, "hey the 3rd time and you're gone!"

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C99, my refuge from an insane world. #ForceTheVote

ovals49's picture

is that the printed words you present us with adequately convey enough information to form reasonable conclusions to your questions. Perhaps you are not concerned with “reasonable” in this exercise, in which case we are left to fall back on our “opinions” and “feelings”. I never have had much tolerance for multiple choice test questions of this sort.

If freedom of expression does not include the freedom to be wrong, willfully or otherwise, then it’s not freedom at all. Consequences for infractions of meatspace laws need to be resolved in meatspace. If we permit or encourage the convenience of pre-curated content in our public discourse, meaningful dissent will soon become altogether impossible.

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"An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked.... because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information."
-- Albert Einstein

edg's picture

@ovals49

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snoopydawg's picture

@ovals49

"An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked.... because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information."
-- Albert Einstein

This goes to the nut of the problem.

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3 users have voted.

“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

Lookout's picture

not your 3 scenarios but specifically the Trumpster twitter debate.

I find myself in agreement. Living in the heart of the Red State, I don't like the idea of burning bridges myself. We're headed toward civil war if we keep this partisan BS going...Russiagate, stop the steal, impeach, storm the capitol...where does it end?

I don't tweet, and I'm faceless because I don't want to deal with their corporate control. Ye who enter there do so at your own risk! I email, and if I wanted a platform would create a web page of my own.

Hope you don't mind my dodge of your specific questions.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Dawn's Meta's picture

@Lookout agreement. I just love it when people from other countries know us better than we ourselves do. Yanis Varoufakis is another example.

I am looking into Common Carrier as it is today in Communications. It looks like Twitter, FaceBook and others as defacto monopolies fall into this category. Do people have other platforms to go to?? FB is a social/cultural institution. Many families including mine rely on it for family information and sharing.

I also looked at the Atlantic Council website. What the heck??? Somewhere I read that Twitter is a member, or regulated by or ?????? Looks like the NATO part of commerce and communications.

My own opinion is that this is very complex. Twitter may be privately owned and/or have stockholders, but as a virtual monopoly it is the only player of its type. Twitter seems to meet the definition of Common Carrier. The problem is it is not regulated for the 'public' good. So it acts like a private board, just a huge one. They shouldn't be able to have it both ways.

Twitter, FB and those other platforms which are virtual monopolies can either be regulated Common Carriers, or be broken up so that competition for real takes place.

The deplatforming of Trump by Twitter, FB, mail server (drastic) and other electronic media has turned into a dogpile complete with public shunning. The worm has turned and everyone wants off or into the next best thing.

I think he did horrible incitement things during his entire presidency. Congress (Pelosi) should have warned, then sanctioned him for threatening a foreign nation and its people with intent and ability to carry out. Also support for the real racists, supremecists, gun people in response to BLM. Pelosi instead gave him more money for military than even he asked for. Now she's for 'rule of law'? How about killing Solemeini (sp)?

For the seven or eight days he's left (which he said he was going to be away or leave early) now we push him to dig in his heals. And create a martyr at the very, very end. Don't want a civil war. Especially not this one.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

edg's picture

@Dawn's Meta

"A common carrier is a private or public entity that transports goods or people for a fee. Utility companies and telecommunications companies also are considered common carriers. A common carrier, unlike a private carrier, must provide its service to anyone willing to pay its fee." -- Investopedia

Twitter and Facebook are not common carriers. They are applications that run on a common carrier. They don't charge fees. Instead they are advertiser supported. Similar in some ways to broadcast TV. However, unlike broadcast TV, which has limited bandwidth and supports a finite number of channels, the internet has huge capacity and can host an astonishingly large number of applications.

Twitter, Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. had and have many competitors in their category. Users selected the most popular applications in each category and those four rose to the top. Having reached the top, are they now monopolistic? In some ways, certainly so. They are busily erecting barriers to entry that reduce or eliminate the potential success of others

But they are still private companies that offer their service for free on a common carrier that has nearly unlimited choices and capacity. I don't see a practical way to force people to use Parler instead of Facebook or Bing instead of Google.

On the other hand, should Google own YouTube? Possibly not. That needs to be closely examined, especially since YouTube videos are highly favored in Google search results, thus freezing out other sources of information.

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Lookout's picture

@Lookout @Dawn's Meta

...is essentially NATO... and they are the platform censure apparatus?
https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-insiduous-role-of-the-atlantic-council...

I can appreciate the FB users who want to keep up with family and friends. Our family understands we are faceless and will occasionally email us. Friends that want to stay in touch do the same. We do have some "contact groups" saved in our email (sometimes called a distribution list). Things like FL folk fest friends, old band mates, local musicians, and so on. That works for us. Many of our friends are addicted to FB and Twitter.

Lustig who works with sugar addicted kids has expanded his addiction research to social media and kids. I have a buddy the heads up a group of young botanists. The first thing at every meeting he says, "Alright take your brain out of your hand and put it back in your head."

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

edg's picture

@Lookout

Atlantic Council (AC) still has their Twitter account, albeit its reach is tiny compared to Trump. On the other hand, its influence tends to be far greater than any national leader's.

Most recent AC editorial: Trump’s resignation would be the best path to US healing—and global effectiveness

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edg's picture

@Lookout

The guy who just tweeted regarding Covid-19:

  • It's like a Flu.
  • It's a hoax.
  • I'm fed up with it.
  • The mask is uncomfortable.

Okay.

As to the video you linked, is there a transcript? I don't have sound capability on my current PC.

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Lookout's picture

@edg

Those are jokes.

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4 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

edg's picture

@Lookout

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I let this essay age overnight before chiming in. It's a "Second thoughts are ever the wiser" technique that usually serves me well.

I had an interesting Quora answer in my feed this morning. The topic doesn't exactly address the issues of what is censorship, is it ever appropriate, and when and under what circumstances may some person or entity prevent us from having our say. The author does get around to claims of censorship deep in edits to her answer. Apparently, some asshats thought it appropriate to mansplain a few things to her or otherwise be abusive and she deleted their comments.

There are several levels of moderation available on Quora from automatic, moderator reviews, reports by users to moderators for action, and a person who answers a question may delete a comment and/or block/ban any commenter to their answer. The author may also disable comments. That's generally used by people who don't want to hear what others have to say but can be a necessary tool for trolls. Personally, I have never deleted a comment or banned a person who commented on an answer of mine. I did temporarily block a particularly obnoxious asshole until he lost interest then I unblocked him. I love for people to show who they really are and what they think in their answers and comments. That's all on them and says nothing about me. What others think about me is none of my business. I try to live by that little piece of truth.

The edits to the following answer do go straight to the heart of this discussion but don't address the three situations. Sorry edg. I'm sure you'll get over it. Wink

The question was: Why didn't the Secret Service fire a warning shot in Capitol Hill yesterday?

Read it before continuing, or not. I can't tell you what to do. I just don't want to taint your reading and considerations with my thoughts that follow.

For the record, I'm with her on all points of this answer regardless of the topic. She leaves no doubt about where she stands on the Capitol flustercluck or the whiny shits who think they can abuse her in comments without consequences because "but m'ah rights!". I'm pretty sure there's a "bitch!" included in some of their cries as well. Always classy, ya know?

Read it yet? No worries.

I live by a my house, my rules philosophy. I do not need to listen to, read, or watch anything anybody wants to put in front of me when it is on my property. Whether it is my car, my house, or my website makes no difference. Or whether it is my private property or is a public forum I own that someone is using after agreeing to my rules. My motives for refusing them to use my property make no difference. Those who don't like my rules or don't like that I enforced them can go elsewhere or be removed without recourse if they choose to continue the behavior I prohibit. I'm not the government so the 1st Amendment does not apply to me. Other laws, like against racial discrimination, might apply. I'll comply with the law or I'll shutdown and go away just like I expect anyone to do when I tell them I'm done with them.

This might sound pretty harsh to some of us. Too bad, you'll get over it. The truth is I'll listen to almost anything people have to say up to a point. When I reach that point I'll usually remove myself from having any contact. Just like I do by using a minimum of social media. I'm also sensible with using what social media that I do use. That's one of my responsibilities. I choose who I associate with. Only a few times have I chosen to tell someone I was no longer willing to listen to or put up with their shit and for them to not bother contacting me. In one of those times it was my fault, my problem. It's an situation that still guides me today. Sometimes though, we just have to tell people to get lost. I have a responsibility to remove myself when the connection is no longer acceptable.

Dammit! There I've said it. The R word. Responsibility. Along with the other R word, Respect, I take it very, very seriously. More seriously than Rights I claim for myself. To me, the three can't be separated. They're inseparably connected.

There's my answer edg. My position may not clearly spelled out. A reader will have to think about what I've written and then may not entirely understand. I'll add one more hint. Anyone who wants to talk to me about "M'ah rights!" best be sure they have the right they claim and very quickly best think about what their responsibilities are/were in a situation. And. They best find a way to be respectful in the discussion. I sure as hell will be respectful, even if I disagree, but I don't have to listen to or take seriously assholes and trolls. What's more, I don't think others have to. I expect to be held to the exact same standards.

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4 users have voted.

"But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

edg's picture

@vtcc73

I read Savannah's post and immediately thought of a 3rd explanation for why the woman didn't get back: The screaming of the invading horde she was part of was so loud she didn't hear the warning.

That being said, she was part of the mob that was invading the U.S. Capitol Building. Actions have consequences.

I have mixed feelings about deleting comments on my writings. Some have really pissed me off upon first reading. But "Second thoughts are ever the wiser" is wise counsel. I even find occasional nuggets of wisdom in comments that pissed me off.

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4 users have voted.

@edg that the alternate reality most of the trumpistas live in is a major factor in their actions. They not only expected to be welcomed into the Capitol to do whatever they thought they would accomplished, they believed they were doing it as their patriotic duty. They are protecting America. This is a feature that began with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and has only become more extreme. It is, within limits, generally considered free speech. It doesn't have to have a shred of truth or evidence. Someone only has to say it loudly and often enough to become true in susceptible people's minds. Most of America has come to confuse belief with absolute fact and truth.

So here we were on Jan 6th. Trump's words are arguably protected speech. He can claim to have been misunderstood as to intent although I don't know many who actually believe that. Even those who complied with his suggestions knew, had faith/believed, he was calling for them to take control of the Capitol. His speech was a dog whistle everyone could understand clearly. His words arguably resulted in hundreds if not thousands of felonious actions and six deaths yet his speech was more or less protected.

One test of what is or is not protected is whether speech can cause be reasonably expected to cause harm to people. Real harm and not just hurt feelings. Should we silence such speech? How? How do we choose when it crosses the line between protected and not?

It's difficult to advocate that he should not have been silenced well before January 6th, the 1488th day of his presidency. Yet, as president he has a special position, that he without doubt abused horribly, as someone who should have some leeway. What about all the public officials down through the bomb throwing idiots that enabled him? Should they be silenced? When? How? What about those who provided them with a platform but do nothing? The media, social media, all the nutbag websites for crazy talk - what about them?

One very powerful part of my mind says these are only the price of freedom. Then, the other part says that in a sane, stable society that is absolutely correct. Who among us considers America sane, stable, or a society at this moment? Not many on the outside looking in do.

As I see America now we are at a turning point. We either pull back from the brink of self destruction or we sail merrily along until it happens. Pulling back will inevitably involve trampling some rights. Regaining control and restoring sanity/order always does. Both course are going to cause harm, including physical harm, but which is going to cause the most harm? Also, can we trust the system we have, not the one we want, to not make a complete dog's breakfast of it and precipitate self destruction?

I really wish Howard Zinn were still alive. I've struggled with completely accepting his views on war as always being the greater evil. I see our time to not be too different as far as choices are concerned. I'd love to have his wisdom to chew on.

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2 users have voted.

"But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

edg's picture

@vtcc73

Many Trump followers are convinced the US is on the brink of another Civil War and they are convinced they will win because wussy liberals have disarmed themselves. I'm reasonably sure this is a sincerely held belief. They think the military and police forces will join them in purging America of Biden and his fellow socialists.

I don't know how how we pull back and regain control from that cliff edge.

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4 users have voted.

@edg My opinion is that it will run its course and the US will be what it is left. I can't do anything about it.

Given how spun up people are I see no deescalation being possible. Even normally rational thinking people are cruising along on emotion, mostly anger and outrage, to higher states of unreason. Our supposed leaders are clueless how to get out of what they created. There is still too much to be gained for themselves for them to step back and stop fanning the flames. That's one helluva situation.

It's time to look for the closest emergency exit and plan how to use it. And hope we won't need to.

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1 user has voted.

"But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

edg's picture

@vtcc73

In the run up to the 1860s Civil War, perhaps 1% or 2% of the population left the South. The rest agreed with secession or couldn't leave. Nowadays, the population is intermixed. Texas, for example, is about 50/50 Dems and Reps. Who leaves, who stays? Does the large Latino population go North? Or do they stay in Texas and fight the insurrectionists? Who gets Florida? North Carolina, which is turning blue. Virginia, which is now a blue state. I don't think the modern secessionists have thought this through.

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2 users have voted.

@edg

I don't think the modern secessionists have thought this through.

If there was any actual thought given, not just the secessionists, to our situation we wouldn't be in this mess. This is people with a common heritage and with relatively minor differences of opinion who think screwing or even killing those not like them is a brilliant plan. There is no evidence of thinking, logic, reason, empathy, or humanity anywhere in those positions.

The scary part is there is no solution except people changing their attitudes and how they treat others. Or, like you said, there is no solution.

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2 users have voted.

"But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

TheOtherMaven's picture

@vtcc73

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monsters_Are_Due_on_Maple_Street

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2 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

@TheOtherMaven how often someone here seems to always come up with just the right way to look at something. The Twilight Zone sure did that a lot. Nice find.

Something along the same line made a big difference in how I think about people and how I see the world. It's just a simple statement that I instantly knew was spot on.

We don't see the world as it is, we see it as we are.

We speak of reality when it only our reality. Multiple people looking at a scene in front of them will often have very different versions of what happened and what it meant. It's not only common but completely normal. It can be no other way. We all see the world through the lens of who we are and our experiences. Those are very individual so how is possible for us to all always agree?

One problem is that we often demand that others see the world exactly like we do. We are closed to alternative explanations of how we understand something. We also see the world the way we want to at times and can't be convinced to believe our lying eyes.

The only way to reconcile differences is to listen to others and try to understand their perspective. Neither listening nor understanding the other is agreement. Looking for something we missed or misunderstood is critical to being able to think clearly. On occasion we find another perspective may just be more accurate or offers something we need. Other times we just have to be right and can't/won't consider alternatives. No wonder humans get all balled up with each other and ourselves.

We're experiencing what happens in a society when nobody listens to other perspectives. We often refuse to consider anything but what we are sure is exactly right, true reality. Or we insist on telling everyone just how right we are and never listen or consider anything not bouncing around in our own skull. If everyone's talking then nobody is listening. We humans can't do both at the same time.

That's how I see social media. It's all "Hey! Look at me!". We only seek what we already agree with. It's all noise, no signal. Why do people get so upset when they get unfriended or banned? Maybe being forced to turn off the noise would be the best thing to happen in our lives.

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2 users have voted.

"But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

Something to laugh at and/or ridicule.

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3 users have voted.

"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

edg's picture

@Fishtroller 02

I've found ridicule a useful tool when responding to some of the heated utterances on Fox News and other rightwing forums.

OTOH, last week's event has left me scratching my head. It's one thing for me to issue a mocking "yeah, sure, Rambo" to a seemingly wild comment about invading the Capitol and quite another to see actual human beings invading the Capitol, with some of them seriously planning to hang the sitting VP and somehow prevent Biden's election.

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3 users have voted.

@edg

I think the more dangerous contingent just might show up on the 20th. And at this point I don't think they'll listen to DT even if he begs them to stop.

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0 users have voted.

"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

edg's picture

@Fishtroller 02

According to the FBI, "An online flyer sent around to various groups in mid-December proclaimed, 'When democracy is destroyed, Refuse To Be Silenced: Armed March on Capitol Hill & All State Capitols, January 17th, 2021 @ 12PM.'"

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1 user has voted.

Your real question is not when and how a site should enforce its TOS, but what the underlying morality of that should be.
Your second example is a definiyive straw man. I can only stretch things to the max to come up with a scenario where any action should be taken - if a large church chose to mob the site so that the first 5 comments were that statement regardless of topic. The third is almost the same -- so far over the top a terminal response is mandatory unless the poster just forgot a "snark" tag and had dome it so often in the past that the omission was assumed. As for your first, I have only two words - Jeffrey Epstein,
I hope you've already figured this out, but I kept raising objections to your election posts because I knew that you were much better qualified to debunk them. That said I'll confess - I believe that a fraud would require much more expertise and foresight than was almost indisputably used in the 2000 and 2004 general and the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries. When something has happened 4 times in the last 6 tries skepticism is reasonable, no matter how unlikely.

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5 users have voted.

On to Biden since 1973

edg's picture

@doh1304

The underlying question is the morality. As for the 2nd example, I was threatened with banning from Daily Kos for expressing something much milder but in a similar vein. Of course, getting banned from TOP isn't hard. The 3rd example actually happened here, although I changed the details a bit. JtC even had to step in and issue stern warnings because the person kept arguing and cursing and threatening. I suspect banning was just a short step away.

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3 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

I found this at about 10:00 am today 1/11 and felt I should put in my two cents worth, but also felt that I need to clarify that in so doing I do not speak for the site in any way. Yes, I am one of the designated moderators, but we cannot hide or delete posts nor ban users. Our general role is to act analogously to governors on a small engine, to prevent it from over-revving and blowing up. My interpretation of that, fwiw, is to try to get everybody to act with civility and to refrain from insulting each other. There is also a caveat that posts, especially repeated ones, aimed solely at trolling the membership are to be at least warned, because they have no purpose and cannot generate rational discussions.

Prejudices: I want to put my opinion up here because I have a dog in this fight. How big of a dog? I am a veteran of the UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement and was at one point suspended, arrested and barred from entry on campus for occupying a Dean's office while delivering a set of demands in response to a University action. This was in pursuit of the overall ideology that speech, and, in particular, political speech and activity and organizing should be unfettered; and, fwiw, I would do it again. Zo, generally, I don't like censorship. (I got my first student membership in the ACLU with hard earned and scarce coin in either the 10th or 11th grade, got it?)

Viewpoint: Because of the nature of the questions, I must adopt the viewpoint of the site owner, because only the owner is empowered to exercise the remedies suggested. On the whole, I prefer giving people at least one worning, but, not always.

1) This is a crazy case with a crazy poster and I think that as site owner, and only in that role, I might take a crazy action. They slander none but the owner, so there is no likely risk to the site. If I delete the post and/or ban the user, then they can run all over the tubes saying "I tried to call that sob pedo out on his site so that the othere participants would know about him, but he hid/deleted it". My tendency would be to Leave it up, with a first comment or caveat edited in if that's possible that it was false and laughably so and a slander, and that I was leaving it up only so that the adherents to such silly nonsense could not claimed that I hid their attempt at alerting the universe. That, in consideration of their message and successful delivery thereof, there was no further point in their participation on the board, and no rational reason why they should desire to continue here, so they will not be allowed to continue posting here. I would expect that the original post would be well and thoroughly mocked, btw.

2) Pure speechifying. Hell, that's maybe about 1/3 fo the country there.

3) Unacceptable, I am of two minds, a) delete with a thorough explanation of all that was wrong with and a threat of banishment should it continue delivered privately. I would probably conjoin that with a time-out, but that is not a permitted answer. Given that the threat of violence is to the entire readership and is prefaced upon the idea of somehow being in the same location (as opposed to "I will hunt you down and kick your teeth in"), I would tend to suspect that it was rhetorical over-indulgence and not a real threat of any kind. b) would, of course, be to delete and ban the user. This case requires more context. The person is a regular user, for how long? How abrasive are they and how often? Is this a unique occurrence ot do they tend in that direction. Etc. (Here, the site must be protected, because any member can go to Ishtar only knows how many bits of alphabet soup with the grievance that the site allows them to be exposed to sociopaths who threaten them, etc., etc.)

be well and have a good one

EDIT: Edited to add that the caveat attached to post #1 would state that one such post is sufficient to prove that I will let that point be expressed and that no further such posts will be allowed.

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4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

edg's picture

@enhydra lutris

I have run a couple blogs myself, so I've faced the leave it be or delete it question regarding user posted content. I usually leave it be unless it's profane or dangerous.

Something that concerns me is site reputation. c99 is indexed by Google et. al and our content appears in search results. Could some essays scare off potential members in the limited context Google provides? Who knows?

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2 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@edg

account, but that's the same old dilemma, is it better to be known as censorious with uniformly wonderful content, or wild open with the obvious concomitant that there will be dreck. Toughie and glad it's not my call.

be well and have a good one

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2 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris

some cloudy gray area
what makes us work
is keeping it together
in the mist

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2 users have voted.

Here coma de truff
ready or not we can
digest or throw up
choice

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4 users have voted.
edg's picture

@QMS

QMS will be here all week, ladies and germs! Don't forget to tip your cigarette girls.

[ Am I showing my age by even knowing that stuff? Wink ]

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4 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@edg

by?

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3 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

edg's picture

@enhydra lutris

Sounds familiar, but I can't place it.

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1 user has voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@edg

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0 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris

sings like de wanna be

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1 user has voted.