"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Shut up and stop trying to censor me!"

Censorship and free speech seems to be a slippery concept for some people. Bill O'Rielly's schtick is yelling at guests he disagrees with to shut up and having their microphones cut off, but when Media Matters reruns his racist hateful facist crapola and criticizes him for it, he accuses them of trying to censor him, calls them the worst people in the world, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I'm all for letting anyone say anything they want, but if the nazis want to march, they better be ready to be met by a massive countermarch. If Wingnuts want to talk trash on the radio they better be ready to be universally mocked.

I also believe that media outlets using the public airwaves have a responsibililty to present opposing views and give equal time in a fair way.

CC over at Canadian Cynic has been going around and around with a two of a group of total jackasses over his policy of removing people from his blogroll if they also blogroll the aforementioned jackasses. Which I think is reasonable -- If someone on my blogroll started blogrolling Stormfront or Free Republic (no way in hell am I linking to either one here, if you need to look at them, go find'em yourself) I'd drop them like a bad habit.

You have the right to post whatever you want on your blog, but I have the right to criticize you for it on my blog and even to come and criticize you for it on your blog comments. But once I've made my point in the comments, if I continue to be a boring pain in the ass, it is no longer valid criticism -- its trolling and i deserve whatever I get, whether it is countertrolls on my blog, being banned from your comments, being told to shut up and get lost etc etc.

I wouldn't deny racist fuckwits like RightGirl and Kathie Shaidle the right to say whatever hateful idiotic dumbass thing they want on their blogs, but they need to expect that they will be made turned into social pariahs, universally mocked and despised for it. Free speech has consequences, you are responsible for what you say, so if you say something stupid, expect an earful for it.

That is not censorship. Censorship is when the government comes along and makes you shut down your blog, or bans you from having a computer/printing press/radio station, or makes it illegal to mention certain things or talk to certain people. Media organizations self-censor every day. That's why you won't see the headline "President fucks up again" in the New York Times.

In Japan, as in Canada, there is no official government censorship. The government often doesn't release embarrassing information, even when requested, but more influential on media self-censorship is the chilling effect of the violent right wing extremists. Their intimidation, combined with a lack of testicular fortitude on the part of the media and a do-nothing attitude on the part of a sometimes sympathetic police force mean you will never see a Japanese newspaper write negative things about the imperial family, conservative politicians or the right-wing extremists. People have gotten killed for it and the mainstream media here is unwilling to take the chance. So there is no examination of the "Nanjing Massacre Incident" or the sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of women by the Japanese Military the possibly forcible recruitment of some women to serve as comfort women, most of whom volunteered

In North America the chill comes from fear of losing business. I have some personal experience with this: I was once fired from a small newspaper for publishing stories about a local politician and businessman who was also a major advertiser. (I sued the publisher, we settled and no, I won't elaborate.) This was not censorship, this was just cowardice on the part of the publisher.

Big companies that own media outlets don't like to see stories critical of them or their favorite politicians. Izzy Asper centralized editorial control of their papers at one point. Conrad Black simply cut half the editorial staff at his papers (thus scaring the hell out of the other half and making them afraid to offend the boss) as a 'money-saving measure' .It doesn't have to be heavy handed. Often it is simply a publisher or editor worrying about pissing the owner.

At one place I worked, the owner was well-known to be a tory, the local MP was a tory and a buffoon, but we shied away from reporting on his buffoonery because we knew it would lead us to grief with our boss, not for any specific act, but we knew how unpleasant she could make things for us.

Big media outlets know that if they self-censor too much, they cease to be interesting. If they slant the news too much, they lose credibility. Fox News has had a good run, but unless they start pandering to the left when the political pendulum swings the other way, or actually try to become a neutral news organization, they will be out of business. Democrats refusing to be interviewed and businesses refusing to advertise will hasten that process. Wingnuttery still abounds there, but as the conservative movement totters toward smoking ruin, their days are number. You can already see some of their pundits trying to distance themselves from Bush.

Bloggers refusing to link to, blogroll or read idiots will hasten the departure of the idiots from blogtopia or at least marginalize them and grind away the veneer of respectability some of them have acquired. Eventually that means if they want to have a conservative blogger on TV it won't be Canada's Lowest Common Denominatrix (nicknamed by Pretty Shaved Ape at Canadian Cynic) or the Bush worshipping dingbats from Powerline.

So let us rejoice in the chaotic nature of the blogosphere and speak our minds while remembering that in doing so we have a responsibility not to make stuff up, spread lies or generally behave like assholes. And we have a duty to fight irresponsible hate-mongering stupidity wherever it is on the political spectrum.


The Eternal Gaijin said...

Greetings from Kobe.
Thanks for the blogroll.
I'm putting together one these days and will add you to mine.
I'll tag you when it's up.

jj said...

Yay! Go Rev.! What a great rant, absolutely inspiring! (I was hoping it would take the form of a blog post here.) Ahh, YES!! Now I feel all psyched.