Let's Talk Turkey (With a Small Update)
A debate arose in the comments on JtC's latest diary on moderation. The issue is: does moderation censor free expression? And if so, are we OK with it?
Let's talk turkey.
The establishment's favorite tactic right now is to take down an opposing argument by accusing people of racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, anti-semitism, etc. It's a form of conversation-stopper, with a side of character assassination. This tactic decimated the progressive folks on DKos. It was what made that site so toxic people could, in the end, do nothing but leave--after having watched person after person get bullied, harassed, Swiftboated, and gaslighted. Everything propaganda or a psy-op could do to progressives and populists was done, and accusing people of bigotry was the #1 weapon in the establishment arsenal. I've had people--purportedly POC--tell me I was racist for opposing Social Security cuts because, in the 30s, Social Security did not include black people. Never mind that Social Security has included black people since before I was born, and that women of color depend more on Social Security than anyone else in this country--so when you cut Social Security, you're really punching somebody's black grandma in the face. What's real *now* doesn't matter--the only thing that mattered was to say I was a racist for pushing a left-wing idea.
This is the new McCarthyism. The plutocracy has co-opted the language of social justice, in particular the language of the New Left (60s New Left, not New Dems of 90s) and the Civil Rights movement. If you oppose the plutocracy on the Net for long enough, you are likely to be accused of some form of horrible prejudice.
The left has, up to now, not come up with a good countermeasure for this attack. It's a very clever attack, stealing and using our own terms to commit character assassinations on white progressives in a way that we can't even object to without proving the point--if a black person accuses a white person of racism, even if it's for an idiotic reason like the Social Security thing I mentioned above, how can a white person credibly say "That black person is wrong, I'm not racist?" Doesn't that automatically make us racist, according to our own rules? All the establishment needed was to get a few black people and other POC to work for them, and then create massive numbers of sockpuppets who could be piloted by POC, white people, or aliens from outer space, for all I know. So far the only somewhat effective countermeasure I've seen is when progressives of color call the tactic out.
Any such countermeasures would have to allow for checking actual instances of racism, sexism, and other kinds of bigotry, which means distinguishing actual bigotry from unfounded charges of bigotry.
Obviously, devising such countermeasures is going to be one hard fucking task. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, but even if we decide to do it, it will take a while before we are able to come up with something likely to work.
My bottom line: 1)It's overly simplistic to frame this as a simple question of censorship vs freedom. 2)I don't want the establishment's favorite new psy-op practiced all over this website the way it way on Daily Kos.
This hadn't occurred to me till this morning.
Does it complicate the notion of censorship when the origin of the dispute was that some people were telling other people You can't say that, you must stop speaking about that?
Is it OK for individual actors, or small groups of people, to tell others they can't say certain things, as long as they're not acting out of an official position? But somehow very wrong if anyone in an official position tells people a discussion must stop?