One of the things Dr Tanya asks this week was surrounding censorship. She’s echoed a question originally suggested by Melanie B Cee. I’m paraphrasing, but it went along the lines:
In order not to offend our readers, are there some subjects that are off limits?
Blogs are, I think, a personal platform. If they’re not a personal, then I don’t reallythink they’re a blog. In most cases, it’s not only reasonable, but commendable, that somebody holds a view on something, rather than no view at all. So I don’t think it is unreasonable for them to express that view on their blog. One person’s view might conflict with another’s, but I don’t think they should hold fire for fear of causing offense. An opposing view is not necessarily offensive.
That said, how the view is expressed can make a difference. So, it is often not what we express, but how we express it, that makes makes something offensive.
Regardless, the reader has the ultimate right to switch off, if they are offended.
In applying this, the three concrete scenarios I had in mind were:
- Writing a post on our own blog (Melanie’s case).
- Commenting on somebody else’s blog.
- When somebody comments on one of our blog.
For (1), we compose our own posts so it is our responsibility to promote our view tactfully.
For (2), if I disagree with the post, I will mostly just move on, but will sometimes say something. If I do, it is my responsibility to disagree tactfully. And convincingly. Like any other web pages, blog posts are readily accessible through the internet, so it is possible that an open-minded, third-party could stumble across the post. If I write a comment, who am I trying to sway? The poster? Who already wrote something I don’t agree with? Or, this new reader? That’s why I don’t bother arguing in a thread – I state my case and the passer-by can decide for themself.
(3) gets interesting, because the commenter has a responsibility to comment tactfully. That could bar anything from “offensive” to simply “inappropriate” material. In that case, I’m happy to censor – it’s my name on the site, after all.
To give some perspective here, I’ve had 6,400 comments on my blog, since Day #1, and I have censored about 6 so far. All except one were spam (as suggested by Akismet), the last was a genuine comment from a genuine reader, which was simply inappropriate. It might have been embarrasing for somebody (and, by impication, for me). I thought long and hard before removing it because I don’t want to be closing down discussion, but on my site, I decide.