2017 minus 33: Restriction of Venue

Posted: 29 November 2016 in 2017 minus

I like Kurt Busiek. He’s a nice fellow, a superb writer, and was once a wonderful guest on hypotheticals.

A while back, we – along with loads of others, including a few people reading this – were members of Compuserve’s Comics and Animation Forum. A particularly objectionable member kept causing hassles, breaching the Forum Rules on a daily basis. When the sysop/moderator finally booted him, there was, as I recall, a brief discussion on freedom of speech, and Kurt made a comment that’s always stuck with me:

“Restriction of venue is not restriction of speech.”

It’s a comment that’s always stuck with me for two reasons. As with many short snappy comments, it’s as interesting for what it doesn’t say as for what it does. Secondly, it’s a statement that while I agree with in general, particuarly as regards “the Internet”, I’m far less sure of my position when it comes to ‘real life’, cf ‘no platforming’.

What’s made me thing abiout this once again is that Twitter has finally gotten off its arse and started suspending, sometimes permanently, some accounts tweeting racist and antisemitic material.

And no, when I say ‘antisemitic material’, I’m not talking about “criticism of Israel”. I’m talking about stuff like this:

I’m talking about Jew hatred.

As others have said, if you’re “not in favour of censorship except for…” you’re in favour of censorship, just for your particular “things you think shoud be censored”.

Again, we go back to the opening bit of this entry. IS restriction of venue restriction of speech? The… people… who tweeted those – and other antisemitic material – are still free to post it elsewhere, just not on Twtter. (Although one of them has had their suspension lifted…)

I guess it comes down to “yes, it is but only a small restriction and the right of people not to encounter racist speech trumps the right to spout it.”

Would I feel the same about no platforming? I don’t know. I wish I did.

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Comments
  1. Not happy that such people as practice such thinking as we see in those screencaps feel so bold these days myself. Not happy at all.

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