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Parent Article: The Media and Emotions: A Critique of Mainstream Media Coverage of the Anti-DNC Protests
Hidden with code "Policy Violation"
Re: The Media and Emotions: A Critique of Mainstream Media Coverage of the Anti-DNC Protests
09 Aug 2004
Gimme a break, Flipside. All I have been doing is hiding your comments when they violate our editorial policy. I did not make the editorial policy up on my own. It has been reached through numerous discussions among the members of the Boston IMC (that is people who show up at meetings regularly and contribute to keeping the website and other aspects of keeping the organization going). We've modified it considerably over the years based on our experiences maintaining the website and based on suggestions from users of the site who we consider part of our constituency--that is people on the left, broadly defined (liberal, socialist, anarchist, progressive, etc.). We decided on our own to hide posts that are homophobic or anti-Semitic; those views run counter to everything we stand for and we see no reason to provide people a platform to express those views. (I would also point out--again--that you have your own website to express those views on.) The part about hiding posts promoting right-wing websites was actually a suggestion from one of our users. If you check the hidden articles page, you'll see that I actually haven't been the only one hiding your posts--I've just been the one who's taken the time to publicly reply to your complaints and explain our policy to you.

I think I'll take the time to quote some of your hidden posts and reply to the points you raise, since you seem to want a debate.

Flipside: "I am glad at least you now freely understand and admit to censoring the responses to your rant against censorship. As to the "born-again" reciprocity plea that "Flipside does it too, and worse than I do." Our site does not censor incoming material. We do not delete information which opposes the beliefs of the editors. We discriminate between redundant inputs, choosing the most coherent and attention grabbing
versions. Discrimination is not censorship. YOU censor. WE discriminate."

Now you're really just playing word games. When you make decisions about what you want to appear on your site, you say you're being discriminating, in the sense (I assume) of being selective. Fine, it's your website--that's your privilege. You maintain, however, that when we do the same thing, we're censoring. I think the worst that can be said of us is that we're a good deal less discriminating than you--as long as it doesn't violate our editorial policy, we let really low quality stuff stay up as part of this experiment in open-publishing media. But we do have some standards about what we want on our site--just like you have standards for yours. The major difference is that you make your decisions before things go up ont he website, we make ours afterward. It's a simialr process though.

Flipside: "It is the nature of an epistemologically challenged person to balk at the very definitions of words. He cringes from semantics, and hides from semiotics, because those very items are the tools by which we construct meaningful and verifiable claims. Meaningful and verifiable claims are anathema to collectivists, whose sole verification principle is the mob's feelings."

Agreed upon defintions of words are necessary for clear communication. The defintions of words, however, are not set in stone. They are socially constructed and there is always a certain ambiguity involved, which is why it is sometimes necessary to spell out exactly what one means by a term in a debate. You and I appear to be operating with different definitions of the words "censorship" and "to censor". You defined "to censor" as "to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered to be objectionable." That's too simple for me. Being a sociologist, I want to put things in a wider social context. One form of censorship is heavy-handed government censorship, as engaged in by various fascist, military and Marxist-Leninist governments--certain opinions, ideas, and reporting certain facts are outlawed and cannot be publicly expressed. Many on the left argue that in this country, and other liberal capitalist republics, another, more subtle form of censorship operates--ideas and reporting facts are not outlawed, but they usually cannot find their way into the general public discourse because the corporate-owned media (which are the major media outlets) generally don't report on ideas and facts that run counter to their own interests (although exceptions occasionally occur). The common thread in both these forms of censorship is the suppression of certain ideas and facts from the general public debate, whether by legal decree of market forces. That's my understanding of censorship. If the government tried to shut down this website (or yours for taht matter) that would be censorship. That many of the stories we cover here don't find their way into the media most people watch, listen to or read is also, arguably, a form of censorship. What we do on this website is edit. There are other forums for ideas we edit out to appear.

Flipside: "[T]he "politics" that are alleged to be held in common by all the independent people on this site are not independent. They are heavily weighted toward a collectivist bias. This is the antithesis of independence. It is a crude form of interdependence. Anyone who proceeds from a hive mindest would indeed find it surprising that an INDIVIDUAL would continue to act in the manner of an Individual. So were the Saracens surprised at Muhammad, the Pharisees at Jesus, the NAACP at Marcus Garvey, and China at Taiwan.
Collectivists continue to be surprised at the concept of free speech. Much of the Cambridge crowd is. "

You're oversimplifying the beliefs of most of the people who use this website. I think it's fair to say most of us believe in the importance of both community and individual freedom. Is there a tension there? Yes. All complex systems have internal contradictions. Some of them can be healthy and the tension between individuality and community is one of them. There are both healthy and pathological forms of individuality and community. The forms of individuality and community that are prevalent in this society tend to be pathological--individualism often taking the form of the ethic of greed and community often taking highly repressive forms, such as Christain fundamentalism. Those of us on the left are looking for healthy ways to express individuality and community--ways that also complement and balance each other. One basic example is consensus decision-making, where you talk until you reach a decision everyone can live with, honoring everyone's individual concerns but trying to come to some course of action you can follow as a community. That's just one obvious, simple example.