Saturday, November 08, 2008

Censorship Or The Better Part of Valor?

Jenna Orkin

Some explanation is in order regarding the editing or 'censorship' that takes place on this blog.

These are shoot-from-the-hip decisions. They stem from core beliefs that have not been fully thought out nor am I about to embark on a deep investigation of the matter or disquisition now. I'll simply try to explain the thought process or reflex process or whatever it is that's at work.

As you can see from the Profile to the right, a space I opted to use to explain how this blog works, when Mike originally asked me to take on this task (at the time, it was going to be a job) he wrote to readers:

"Comment with only one prime directive, 'What can we share here that will save lives by providing people with choices, experience, strength and hope?'

Of course, peripheral issues arise and inevitably, people have thoughts to share which are of interest but which have only the most oblique relationship to saving lives or offering strength and hope etc, etc. Some comments have been ornery or critical and there are a few that are off the wall but harmless.

But there are categories of comments which have been 'edited' or 'censored' or very occasionally, rejected because on balance, they weren't worth the trouble they might cause.

One category is comments that are strewn with obscenities. "Fuck" is acceptable in some situations; in others it's gratuitous. This, it seemed to me, was particularly true of a comment which several times used the word: Buttf*** (sic). You never got to see that one which was too bad because it made some intelligent points. As with any editor, the blog moderator's job is a balancing act.

You will note, of course, that I'm reproducing in this exposition the exact words which got the comment thrown out in the first place. Hypocrisy? Or context?

Another category of comments that have been censored are those that have criticized Mike or others in ways which I haven't considered useful. I know what he's been through, as do most of you. You have the right to your opinions which may even be brilliantly insightful. And I have no particular beef with truth (if, in fact, I thought the comments contained any) but there are times when its presentation is overwhelming.

I also tend to 'censor' comments which quote without attribution. Please just send links. There are legal issues involved in the ever-evolving area of internet copyright law. Again, it's a matter of proportion and purpose.

And then there's the question of guns.

A few comments have alluded to guns and ammunition, as did Mike's article a week or two ago. Some of these comments have made it through the filter. Others have not.

I once had a conversation with Congressman Jerrold Nadler about free speech. He said, "The answer to bad speech is more speech."

That's true. With perhaps one exception.

When it comes to speech that has the potential to incite or even simply induce violence, the criterion for censorship, if I remember correctly from Law School, is whether or not the listener has time to cool off and think before acting. You can't shout, "Let's go get the mother-f*ers!" to a crowd of vigilante wannabes.

What about when a comment does something akin to that on the internet?

So far no comment has done precisely that but a few have come, it has seemed to me, uncomfortably close.

And a few comments related to weapons have been written not in an incited but a rational state. Yet it was plausible that a reader - granted, one who was already predisposed - might get an idea from the comment that his community might live (or not) to regret.

In that case, the comment would be only one of a chain of causes, a proximate if not a particularly strong cause, but I didn't want the blog to be implicated at all.

This is not an exhaustive list; there's the whole issue of links or allusions to blogs of quesetionable judgment. This is just the beginning of what will perhaps be a heated but intriguing discussion. All right; bring 'em on. The floodgates are waiting.


agape wins said...

I have never had anything "censored",
but have had things left unpublished!

After review, I made some changes which effected the tone of the issue,
or my slant.
If you do not understand Amae, do a
little research, know, & express "the Emotion of Feeling"!
How would you react to your own comments?

NB Patton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
marketTrader2 said...

I want to say thanks to Mike for his thoughtful comments on Obama's win. I think it's important to let the presidency develop. We should let the facts guide us. Not always see cooperation and unity as some diabolical plan of control.

in_the_light said...

Jenna, you certainly have a difficult job, I don't think anyone would disagree. The people reading and posting here are probably some of the most passionate people there are, so the comments you must consider for approval are probably full of all sorts of things.


What about when our criticism of mike is to better his work? This is a very important issue. There are many of us out there prophesizing (in the purest sense of the word, that is what this work is-- collecting information from a source greater than ourselves and connecting it so that those with ears may listen) and the prophets journey can be and often times is lonely and its a lot more effective to console someone's loneliness with a 'head's up' criticism than it is to wash away that lonely feeling with blind praise. Not only that, but it actually betters the message. It's not just a form of connecting with others who are speaking the truth, it's also a way to keep the work as pure and as real as possible.

I'm not saying that anyone here is blindly praising, but I had a post that was edited a couple days ago that removed my criticism of overly skepticle points of view. What was left of my post was what amounted to a nice polishing of the skeptics ass.

If the point is to save lives, then a long discussion about how to best present the material to others is in order. I think filtering the comments is a great idea, but dissent is a good thing. It keeps things in balance and helps the ideas stay organic and in an evolutionary process.

Perhaps an all or nothing would be a better approach to each post. To remove half of a post and keep the other half is to spin what someone says. Not only is that not fair to the person who speaks (one message is often contained in several paragraphs therefor cutting part is to skew the message), but it is also dangerous.

Like I said in the begining, I think you, Jenna, have a difficult job moderating this site. I criticize you not to put you down, but because I respect what you do and I am thankful that you do it.

The highest honor one will ever receive comes not by praise but by challenge.


kiki said...

the bottom line is: it is 'your' blog and the moderation rule clearly signals the intent, to me anyway...........personally, i'm grateful, i don't have to read a lot of disinformation or purposeless rants here (thanks to the moderated posts of, i'm sure countless people who would like to disrupt the exchange); where an occassional questionable verbage is used, it is 'nicer' to see it added with a purpose (personal preference)

as to other decisions that need to be made re: inflammatory subject matter: well i would say error on the side of being safe than sorry..........since the readership is much broader than those of us who post, no sense giving anyone a reason to cause more misery to MCR and team........

thank you Jenna for taking the time to keep this a great place to share ideas

Andrea Murrhteyn said...

Kiki's Corner: A Call for Action!

You say
Comments are welcome!

Okay, here's my comment, let's see how welcome it is. [Copies to FTW blog, and SQSwans Practicing Radical Hon(our)sty blog]

Interesting Synchronicity!

I knew the 'owner' of FTW blog, years before he had a blog, or a blog following; then he appreciated my blunt honesty. Then he started getting a following, a fanclub, whom he could apply his Daddyism onto, whom would bestow endless sycophancy on him with posts such as "i'm grateful, i don't have to read a lot of disinformation or purposeless rants here" (excerpt) and this would make him feel so important, like he was their big protector; and these self same people never for one minute observed their hypocrisy, contributing to his missery.

How? These support him to criticise the Federal Gov. from the President on down, for??? LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, FOR FAILURE TO FULL DISCLOSURE.

And yet, when it comes to a little blog, with minor little comments, others might feel a little offended by, they support SECRECY, CENSORSHIP AND FAILURE TO DISCLOSURE.

And then one may wonder, what fellows sitting at the NSA and CIA think about all this? Hmmmmmmm. 'Got the keys to the Forestry offices, send him and his two-faced little disclosure fascists pharisees a little message'? Perhaps? Is it possible?

So, now moving on to yourself Ms. Kiki:

Interesting how you only perceive others actions as hatred and prejudice..., not your own?

Your own actions, silencing an idea that you are uncomfortable with seriously cognitively considering as plausible or further exploring with the person, to understand whether perhaps they HAVE JUSTIFICATION FOR THEIR ACTIONS, no this you are not interested in?

Do you hate other people's ideas so much, that it's not enough that you can just ignore them, and tolerate them, but that you support that those you HATE, with your PREJUDICE, have to be CENSORED? This before you even know what the ideas are, without any enquiry into whether they have any justification? Considering that I consider your ideas increbidly boring, should I petition FTW to censor them, for their quality of boredom disinformation? Of course not!! I tolerate them or ignore them.

At FTW, you said: "thank you Jenna for taking the time to keep this a great place to share ideas"

I'll leave you with the following ideas Kiki:

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”
-Oscar Wilde

Your definition of 'ideas' appear to be only 'ideas' that you consider politically correct, according to your brainwashed mind. Any REAL IDEA, dangerous enough that may get you to question any of your fundamental assumptions, you would prefer moderators to protect you from!

As your moderator and protector of anything remotely resembling a real idea to challenge FTW visitors thinking; Jenna performs the following function:
“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.”
-Joseph Stalin

She does this rather well, with excellent passive aggressive two-faced politically correct language, devoid of honour; for numerous reasons, she couldn't bother to contemplate and definitely not to be transparent about.
But since these ideas herewith shared, are undoubtedly ideas that may challenge you to question your map of FTW, Jenna, the world, your big picture worldview; your paradigm of the world... I shall leave out these, since clearly these would be DANGEROUS IDEAS, AND PERHAPS EVERY IDEA THAT IS DANGEROUS TO YOU, YOU CONVENIENTLY LUMP INTO THE FILE KNOWN AS 'HATE' OR 'PREJUDICE'?

“One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea”
-Walter Bagehot (1826-1877)

kiki said...

Andrea, this is not a blog that invites unmoderated posts; that is the right of any blog owner (some blogs don't even accept comments)- when i post here it is with the understanding, if my post is not suitable for whatever reason, it is at the discretion of the blog owner

i said what i meant; you are free to interpret my words in whatever way suits your way of thinking

Lawrence said...


I could not be a free as you are in allowing some of the rants through. My "censorship" would be even stricter in keeping the topics on track. Bad writing would even be disallowed. If a person cannot write proper sentence structure then don't allow them to waste my time trying to figure out what the heck they mean.

This blog is a main source of information for me as I wander through the darkness. Your explanation of the management of the site was well thought out and I, for one, am in complete agreement with the management of the blog. If you were to decide a post of mine was "off subject" I would gladly accept the choice and rewrite something better.

"All we are saying is give peace a chance"
--- John Lennon

gildone84 said...

I understand the need to filter what gets posted here, and I have no complaints about it. I'm a member of a message board that for quite some time wasn't moderated.

It eventually degenerated and drove people away because of the adolescent behavior of two people, one of which liked to create multiple profiles so he could saturate the board with his point of view and use his aliases to defend his rotten behavior.

The decision was made to start moderating the board. Things improved greatly, more people began using it, and membership began growing again.

If someone has constructive criticism and can present that criticism in a rational, professional, adult manner, that's fine with me. But, if someone is going to behave like an adolescent and feels the need to emphasize his/her points by hurling insults and expletives, I'm not interested and would prefer not to see their messages. Bottom line: It's not my blog. The rules are set by the owner and moderator(s).

On another note, Obama is asking for your vision for the country:

Provide your input. The more people who say we need to confront peak oil the better.

Chris Shaw, Australia said...

FTW Blog is compact and succinct.

No matter where else I go in the course of a day's surfing, there is always a surprise or two waiting here. Therefore let's keep it that way. I like it the way it is, Jenna and Mike.

There are tons of other forums and blogs for me to unload my opinions when my ego needs a run. I wouldn't want to clutter this one, unless I thought it was really important - like now.

Cheers from Australia

Chris... feral metallurgist

NB Patton said...

The second post on this page was mine, and I did NOT delete it. FTW Admin, could you re post it please?

I am a bit saddened by the responses here. How can any rational person agree with censorship on a blog that is basically about anti-censorship? How can the awakened FTW readership disagree with the logic and reasoning that Andrea Murrhteyn speaks? I mean sure, she is rash and blunt, and it is not "fun" to read because you get a bit emotionally drained FEELING the intense energy behind each word... But damnit all, she's right!

Kiki, I know it wasn't fun getting owned like that, but in the face of such basic fundamental logic, how can you still deny her?

Nobody else smells a pile of stinking hypocrisy here? Just me and the "crazy" lady??...
I only finished calculus math wise, but I think that makes me crazy too...

Note: I do NOT think FTW Admin edits anything with cruel or evil intent. I think she is an extremely good, honorable and sincere person, I just happen to disagree passionately with this specific philosophy on censorship.

FTW admin said...

nb patton

i didn't delete your post either. if i had, i doubt blogger would have said the 'author' did it.

please please guys, if you want me to repost your posts, send them again and don't make me go hunt for them through my old discarded emails.

FTW admin said...

ok nb patton i found it.

NB Patton has left a new comment on your post "Censorship Or The Better Part of Valor?":

FTW Admin:
With all due respect; your philosophy would have rendered Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!" lost to the ages for its violence inciting qualities.

Were the Sons of Liberty wannabe vigilantes? You're damn straight they were. And what does this nation owe to them? One could easily argue their actions and their courage helped to imbue upon the colonies the will to unite and fight! Wannabe vigilantes fought bravely for your freedom! Too many Americans forget that! Too many Americans forget the only hope a populace has against tyranny lives within education and ARMS! Freedom CANNOT be had without BOTH of these.

I hold at my very core a belief that the freedom of a given society has a direct correlation to the effectiveness of its citizens weaponry.

Regarding the prime directive of this blog:
I also believe that having firearms and PLENTY of ammunition for them can save your life and the lives of those around you in many different ways. Chief among them and certainly most common, by hunting to provide nourishment. Second through trade of the ammunition for whatever you might need. Third, God forbid, to defend yourselves! But since YOU don't approve, it isn't true? That is extraordinary!

Regarding the legal concerns of what was edited from my post: Surely you jest, are you forgetting Mens Rea?
Post my deleted text so everyone can see what you are protecting the blog and its readership from.

There is a reason freedom of speech ranks #1 in amendments. Try as you might, it is impossible to rationally force a mask of justice upon something so inherently unjust.

kiki said...

npatton, i guess i see it like this: this is Mikes living room - he decides what background music he wants playing for he and his guests and Jenna changes the me it has to do with personal boundaries - Mike draws his lines and if we respect him then we accept them - each time we visit this blog it is cleanly indicated that the blog is moderated - no secret - so if we don't like the rules we don't have to post

he needn't be bothered hearing anything we have to say to him or anyone else

NB Patton said...

You are correct, and that really is where the buck stops in the reality of who administers the blog. So I get it,...

The problem I see with that logic is that I feel it infringes on one of the core values that this community holds near and dear. The freedom to publicly make fools of ourselves. :)