Friday, September 23, 2011

Moderation and Censorship

I know I have been on a slightly extended hiatus from here (work, life, gorgeous girlfriend... etc) but an issue has come up that sparked my motivation.

The Western Sydney Freethinkers Facebook page has been alive with activity of late. This originally started when several members visited a Coptic church which commenced a very fruitful relationship. What followed was some intelligent and thoughtful to and fro-ing between members of both groups, however the page has now come to the attention of a couple of well... trolls, with one in-particular being a conspiracy theorist.

The flood of dubious posts has brought up the topic of censorship and moderation, with one option being the separation of discussions with rules set by the original poster. While this is a tempting idea, the word Moderation always leaves me with a bad taste; whilst it certainly has its place i.e. illegal content, blatantly violent threats (even that is a grey area) and any quote from that abysmal movie “Mean Girls” (kill it with fire) I believe with the ability of personal blocking, full page moderation is not required.

Now I “DO NOT” agree with most of what is being said; actually I feel some of the ideas are personally abhorrent; but that is all the more reason to leave them for all to see, let the idiocy stand on its own wobbly, misinformed and deluded legs. The idea of Skeptics groups, pages, blogs etc. should not be to exclusively talk amongst ourselves, but instead plant the seed of doubt in the believer, show the “Fence Sitter” that the two sides do not hold equal weight and more importantly expand our own understanding of the world and the varying beliefs that occupy it.

The WSFT have done this very well, with members of varying backgrounds, relationships being sustained with different churches, events and speakers focused on the idea of education and understanding the opposing viewpoints. If all someone is doing is trawling through the comments to find what they decree is “logical” then they’re doing it wrong. I am all for ridiculing these people, using their comments to test our degree of sarcasm and abilities at humour, but moderating them on an open page is playing directly into their hands and fortifying their beliefs. We need only look to the SAVN and their applaudable use of screenshots for damming material while showing the public the AVN’s true nature as the AVN moderate the hell out of the page, do we really want to hand out the same ammunition?

Please don’t read this as accommodationist nonsense; I am a firm believer and activist for “Do be a Dickism” for people who clearly deserve it (anti-vaxers, 911 Truthers, theists who need to resort to bizarre philosophical concepts to prove their god). So here is a process of sorts (may require some expansion) as everyone loves a flowchart... hmm, just me then?

In conclusion if you really can’t stand it anymore just press “Block”; if you only wish to talk amongst the like minded, create a closed group; as for moderation in terms of deletion or exclusion in an open group, is just being hypocritical.  


1 comment:

  1. This is all very well Jay but I think it is a gross oversimplification of how real science proceeds (it is not a bad account of how WSF proceeds). You can see a thread between me and Brad Hester which canvasses some of the issues on the WSF wall tonight. cheers Doug McLeod