THE CASE FOR CENSORSHIP
As Democrats we have long held the mantle for "freedom of speech", We have been the standard bearers, frequently at our own expense. The ACLU has filed amicus briefs and acted as representation on behalf of the American Nazi party, the KKK, Larry Craig, Rush Limbaugh and many other groups and individuals we as Democrats find personally abhorrent. We, Democrats, stood in unity to protect freedom of speech from the constant assaults by those who would relegate our Bill of Rights to a Bill of suggestions.
One of the most cherished privileges we possess in America, is freedom of speech, as guaranteed under the First Amendment. It is not only a privilege, it is a right, under the Constitution of the United States. A wise man however, once said:
"With great freedoms, comes greater responsibility".
The obligation to exercise restraint and good judgment concerning free speech is a topic of debate in our society. When does freedom of speech go too far?
We know one cannot scream fire in a crowded public venue without legal complications. There is an assumed responsibility for the physical safety of others when making such public demonstrations. Then the question is; Are we only concerned about physical safety? Are there other occasions or actions that would fall under review? The courts have generally protected what has come to be known as "symbolic speech", wearing hats, clothing or accessories like jewelry etc. that may contain messages or images, but even "symbolic speech" is not always allowed.
The court has emphasized the need for consideration for the "personal sensibilities of the audience." This is where I will begin my case for censorship.
The personal sensibilities of the audience.
MyDD is a private venture, it can, and has written it's own rules for engagement. They, MyDD, are, in many ways like the Boy Scouts of America, they can pretty much arbitrarily decide who can and who cannot be a part of their organization. They write the rules and we comply or we get shown the door, as it should be. But the basis for our participation as described by MyDD is:
MyDD is a group blog designed to discuss campaigns, the progressive movement, and political power.
The operative word there seems to be to be "DISCUSS", not accuse, threaten, insult, disparage, slam, smear or blame. To that end, there are even rules to which we all have agree to abide.
Users who are bashing or attacking any other user on the site, including authors of diaries and front page postings, will be banned. Candidates and politicians are fair game (but that doesn't mean you can use inflammatory language against candidates).
It is here, with these rules that I have a problem. Simply put, we are not following the intent and spirit of those rules, perhaps it is our belief in freedom of speech that is preventing us from enforcing rules that apply to everyone.
There are so many inflammatory diaries and comments on this site now, that at times, one can hardly tell if it is a Democratic site or the "freerepublic". I have gotten so frustrated with the name calling and vitriol that spews forth from some supporters of both remaining candidates, that I've resorted to filling the personal mailboxes of the three front page writers. I am not a "nanny" type of person. but as a "Trusted User", I have on more than a few occasions found myself uprating user comments that were unfairly troll rated, and troll rating other comments that were rated "MOJO" for absolutely no other reason than they were written by a "cohort".
You also have a duty to read comments posted by untrusted users (you are the only ones who can!) and rate them up if they deserve to be viewable. We hate to see users become untrusted, and want them to rejoin the community, and rating them up when they post good comments is the only way for that to happen.
What I have routinely found, is that the hidden comments largely come from a small but active group of people who continuously uprate each other's comments and diary's just to gain TU status. They are then free to post absolutely fictitious and libelous statements and diaries at will. A simple review of the diary list, recommended and otherwise will reveal very little in the way of substantive discussions about:
campaigns, the progressive movement, and political power.
rather what you will see is something very unbecoming of a Democratic site. I'm not really very concerned if individuals here personally support Hillary or, Barack, but I am concerned that the level of childishness here has made many of us so uncomfortable and offended "The personal sensibilities of the audience" that it may be time to use censorship to save us from ourselves. I know already that this would be a difficult task for the moderators as the very success of this site depends on page views and hits. It is after all as mush a "product" as it is a forum.
We as "Democrats" have turned against ourselves to such a degree that wemay indeed be causing irreparable harm. Neither candidate will ever be able to recover in the eyes of at least those of us who remain on this site. It is increasingly looking to me like there is a small but very vocal group of Hillary supporters will leave this site if Obama wins or at least will become little more than antagonists at every turn to those who supported Obama. The same can, and should also be said about a small but vocal group of Obama supporters.
Anyone who has been on this site either as a diary writer or lurker for more than a few months could not possibly have missed the de-evolution of the "public side of this site into something akin to a "Freeper" zone. I have nothing but respect for the front page writers and most of the public diary writers, but seriously, what have we come to when the number one recommended diary, with 45 recommends and 180 comments, at least at the moment of this writing, is a diary about "Saturday Night live" and a serious diary about "Al Qaeda, Impeachment, and Iraq" has no recommends and no comments? Is this really what we as Democrats are all about? Proof of our candidates greatness or fallibilities is best described by a satirical television program? How about a youtube of Bill Moyers or Amy Goodman, might they be better sources of political discourse?
I know I am going to get troll rated by many, many people now that I have openly called for reason, reason in the form of censorship, but if that is the price I have to pay so be it, and I will gladly post the first comment to my diary so you can troll rate me, but I hope I will at least strike a nerve in the silent majority who lurk here and who tire of the childish behavior that abounds. Use your status as a TU, censor those who do a disservice to our Democracy and our Democratic candidates. A little time spent searching a users comments and diary's will quickly point out who the "Freepers" are. If every comment and diary written is an affront to one of our Democratic candidates, they are most likely a "Freeper" trying to sabotage our discussions. Let's send them back to the hellish place of their origin.
Let's return to civility before it's too late, and this is a plea to everyone.