May 16, 2014

Free Speech, Censorship, the Internet, You and the Bad Guy

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 
Edited January 28, 2017
 
Sometimes I am the bad guy when it comes to matters of "free speech" and "censorship". People often talk about them, but they often use those terms in the heat of anger or to emotionally manipulate others. In reality, there is no absolutely free speech, and censorship can be helpful — and censorship is more common than you may think.

Free Speech
Someone may say that they have a "right" to free speech, but where did they get that right? Here in the United States, we have documents from our founders that guarantee it. Some countries have almost no free speech. Even here where it is treasured, there are limitations. Municipalities have statutes in place making certain speech unlawful; the community has the right to set its standards, after all (as long as it does not engage in illegal "hard" censorship). We have the right to criticize the government. However, we do not have the right to cause harm to others through defamation, inciting violence, and so on. You can say, "That guy's stupid", and your remark will probably be put aside as an insulting outburst. Attacking character, calling someone a liar, actively trying to harm that person — if you cannot back up what you say or write about someone, you are abusing free speech and may be subject to legal action. Similarly, the old adage of, "You cannot shout 'fire' in a crowded theater" applies, as such an action can cause panic, injury and death. Many more examples exist, but you get the point: There are exceptions to free speech, even in countries that guarantee it.

Many people applaud the Internet because people can have their say with fewer restrictions. However, if you join a forum, sign up for Web space, start a Weblog, join some other online service, there are restrictions in place. These are often based on the laws of the countries where the host is based, but there are also agreements with certain basic standards (even Facebook will occasionally enforce some of those, but they are notorious for double standards). Read the Terms of Service for many of the online products and you'll see that you cannot defame people, post child porn, infringe on copyright, use "hate speech" (against ethnicity, gender, religion and so on) and many other restrictions. If someone wants to violate these things, they can lose the privilege of using that service and risk possible prosecution. So, even on the Web, there is no absolutely free speech.

Unpopular Opinion Puffin censorship necessary

Censorship
When discussing censorship, the first thought that many people have is about governments. During wartime, mail to and from hostile countries went through a censor's office before being delivered to the recipient. There is censorship to protect military secrets from other countries. Certain other speech (like sedition) is censored, as are many forms of pornography.

People will self-censor every day. A guy may want to say, "Hey girl, your dress looks like a potato sack", but will say something else or even keep his remarks to himself. A co-worker says something bad about the boss, and the other co-worker refrains from agreeing or adding additional statements. Spouses find better ways to say something or not say it at all.

Web Services
On the Web, your host can remove your content or even suspend your account for violation of the rules. Leaving comments, making posts, writing articles that are against the rules (or against laws) can result in removal from a service.

It is ironic that Facebook and others will censor many Christians, Conservatives and creationists, but allow obscene hate speech by by atheists, leftists and evolutionists. That's right, Skippy, we get censored. Quite a bit, in fact. Many of us expect to wake up some morning and find that our material has been removed by leftists and misotheists.


Evolutionary Truth by Piltdown Superman
"Censored" stamp art originally from clker.com

Where are the Rights?
On the Web, some people demand the "right" to "free speech". In actuality, they want to be able to say what they want, wherever they want, without restrictions. If someone bans a user or removes a comment, he or she is often accused of "censorship". Although it is an emotionally-laden buzzword that is often thrown out almost reflexively, there are times that there is truth to the accusation. When Dr. Georgia Purdom and Dr. David Menton made a response video to Bill Nye the Propaganda Guy, Dr. Purdom's Facebook Page was loaded with vile, hateful comments. Many people were angry because those comments were deleted and people were banned. She was called a "coward" for not allowing atheopaths to turn her Facebook Page into their a latrine. I recommend that you read "Am I a Coward?" for her insightful response to this. Was it censorship? Seems to be. Was it the right thing to do? You betcha! Did they lose their rights? Not hardly.

Most of this stuff happens from militant atheists who have no respect (indeed, they have contempt) for the rights, sensibilities, views and expression of others. I believe that they want to silence the opposition (those of us who present the gospel, and especially those who spread the truth that evolution is false and that God is the Creator to whom we are accountable). One way to silence us is to shout us down or intimidate us. Want to comment? I moderate those. Want to send me an e-mail? If you're obnoxious, you'll be blocked. You do not have the right to inflict your viewpoints on people who do not want them. I know of some organizations that refuse to deal with some people because of their obstreperous comments.

What Does it Mean to You?
Manipulators will insist that they have the "right" to leave comments of any kind, and if you do not allow them, you are a "coward", you are suppressing their "free speech" and engaging in "censorship". Many sites, Pages, Weblogs and so on do not allow comments at all, or restrict them — note the blatant hypocrisy of atheopath tinhorns that complain about sites that moderate or disallow comments, but not a peep about many sites, such as Popular Science, that have removed commenting altogether. Why should we subject ourselves to bigotry, hate speech, libel, tantrums and simply bad behavior? They are not being denied free speech because they can join bigoted forums, write their own Weblogs, and they can find other venues to express themselves. These complainers have no justification, and they still have their rights — but they were never given the right to post material on our sites and so forth, no matter what they assert. The painful truth for them is that you do not have to give narcissistic bullies a platform.

This means that you and I are not guaranteed free speech, nor will we escape censorship, even online. We do not have any right to say whatever we want, wherever and whenever. To some people, this makes me the bad guy. So say goodnight to the bad guy!

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