18 August, 2005

Time to move?

At some point in the past I became a free-speech absolutist. I think this stems somehow from my attitude towards interpersonal relationships and the observations I've made there. When you don't talk about things, even if it means suppressing the bitter, hateful words you want to say, issues don't get resolved. Bad feelings don't go away, they curdle into resentment and anger. Speaking, on the other hand, is like surgery: momentarily painful, but ultimately vital for resolving misunderstandings or making clear irreconcilable differences. But even the latter is better, in the end; if there's an uncomfortable knot digging into your side, why pretend it isn't there?

So I've never been a fan of "hate speech" rules. I don't see any value in criminalizing speech, especially when that comes so dangerously close to political speech. Observe the ADL and its casual use of the label "anti-Semitic" to describe a broad range of anti-Israeli rhetoric. There's a slippery slope here.

And in general I don't think this country has done well by burying its hate. We maintain our prejudices, but we've sewn our lips together so that any hint of it can't sneak out. Prejudice doesn't wax because master rhetoricians are cajoling us with their serpent's tongues; it's because there are spaces for it to grow into and fear for it to feed on. We gain nothing by forcing those spaces to be empty; they must be filled with speech (other kinds of speech) in order to destroy the loam in which prejudice grows. Making speech more difficult, making people leery of saying the wrong thing, is absolutely the wrong way to encourage and allow that speech.

Why I'm ranting about this: you'll note up top that the Blogger toolbar contains a "Flag" icon. This is, according to Google, to report "hate speech". Flight might be a good response to this policy.

Mostly, though, I'm annoyed that their awful coding is spoiling my layout.


I enjoyed their take on the Wisdom of Crowds. Hundreds or even thousands of politically correct snitches are bound to set a good standard for public discourse. 

Posted by Harry

It works pretty well on Craigslist, but that place might have more of a sense of community ownership. And posts are gone in a week, as opposed to blogs. 

Posted by hedgehog

I really don't have any problem with them making an anti-spam-blog marker flag. But they've made this explicitly political. 

Posted by saurabh

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