Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You don't get to censor me - I get to censor you

I recently wrote a deliberate misquote of Edmund Burke in a comment: "All it takes for trolls to triumph is that good bloggers do nothing." Sometimes I read something on the internet that I strongly disagree with, and I feel that it is better to speak out against whoever or whatever angered me than to remain silent and just let the trolls win. And nearly every time I get a lot of comments along the lines of "you shouldn't write that", telling me that for some vague reasons of "higher standards" I am not allowed to publicly attack people or opinions I don't like, or use harsh words, because that would be "sensationalist". That is bullshit. I have exactly the same rights as everybody else on the internet to attack anything I don't like in any way that is legal. And last time I checked the rest of the internet isn't exactly shy about using their freedom of speech in that way, so why should I?

Chastity from Righteous Orbs recently had a brilliant post that applies here, pointing out the fallacy of holding public figures to higher standards. This is true especially for prominent bloggers. There are no standards on the internet, and definitively not higher ones. If Gevlon is allowed to call everybody but him a moron & slacker, and Wolfshead is allowed to call all WoW players dumb (and call me a "drooling fanboy"), then why shouldn't I be allowed to call Gevlon a sociopath and Wolfhead's latest post bullshit?

Don't think I don't understand what these attempts from commenters to tell me what I can't write about are: They are the asymmetric warfare of opinions on the internet. Some people are afraid my opinions carry more weight than theirs, because I have a blog that gets a million visitors a year. So when I write something harsh they disagree with, they are trying to guilt trip me, telling me that *because* I have a big blog, I'm not allowed the same range of expressions as everybody else. Up to the rather ironic point where they think they can make personal attacks on me for making personal attacks on others. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. You don't get to censor me. Just the opposite, I'll just use my comment deletion option more and censor anyone trying to tell me "you can't write that".

Is that unfair? No, why? It is completely symmetrical! You have exactly the same freedom as I have: All you need to do is to create a blog and complain there about me, and you can even censor all my comments on your blog if you want. You also have the right to, as some people call it, "unsubscribe" from my blog. That is a bit like "unfriending" somebody on Facebook, pretty much unnoticeable to the person being unfriended or the blogger being unsubscribed to. It's not as if there was a paying subscription here. If anything I'm probably better off if the people who don't like what I write get lost instead of hanging out here and complaining about my "journalistic standards" all the time. This blog would be useless to me if I didn't have the right to say whatever I want here.

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