Words are words are words. Censoring some of them just for their mere existence makes no sense at all. The ideas some words may convey, however, are something else.

In the recent discussion at the nexus pertaining the deletion of a couple of groups which included the word "fuck" in their titles ("Fuck Islam" and "Fuck Christianity"), I opposed censoring basing my decision in the fact that, although I personally found the titles to be highly distasteful, the groups themselves didn't endorse violence or hate against theists. On the contrary, both those groups championed human rights and denounced the abuses committed to individuals by institutionalized faith.

Almost at the same time this discussion was taking place, a group promoting bestiality within the atheist community was deleted. For those of us opposing censorship in all its forms this came as a sobering realization of the necessity to berate certain topics within the nexus.

In this discussion I'd like us to consider if there should be parametes for censoring within the Atheist Nexus site and if so, what should those parameters for censoring be? Who should be in charge of enforcing censorship?(all mods? just Brother Richard?)

My personal opinion is that censorship should be curtailed to its minimum expression and only be implemented in those rare cases in which a user advocates for human or animal rights violations (including hate speech, child pornography, bestiality, violence esp. torture and mutilation, racism, homophobia and terrorism among others).

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Replies to This Discussion

okay, I haven't finished reading your post but just a note to say, "there should be an obvious limit to my right to discuss bacon" is going to be included among my favorite quotes ever. lol
Well, you do seem to be putting a lot of faith on the mods' ability to act properly. It's my experience in previous forums that when moderators are given too much rope, there will normally be abuses been committed.

"If I post bacon-burger recipes in the vegetarian group, moderators should feel free to delete that post and, on my public board, recommend that I make a group where such topics are appropriate."
- So who judges what's appropriate and what's inappropriate? You see, I think we come back to the issue of taste. There are many things which I myself find distasteful but I'm humble enough to admit that I may be wrong. You know, what might be obvious to you might not be obvious to others and maybe, what may be obvious to an overly sensitive moderator might not be obvious to the great majority of users of the nexus.

"Finally, there is a problem with "advocating for human or animal rights violations" because, how do you define that? I like bacon, and I'm clearly hungry. An ethically motivated vegetarian would be in the right to feel that I am advocating the cruel treatment of pigs. But am I out of line? Legally, I don't believe so, based on the deli counter at my grocery store."
There are laws which protect animals from cruel treatment etc..click

"putting one of their crackers into a baggie is a "hate crime". (snicker.)"
-please explain, the meaning of this figure of speech is obscure to me.
btw, maybe the thing about the cracker and the baggie was crystal clear to you but it wasn't to me... couldn't this be construed as a "clear problem with someone's ability to be part of a discussion"? should I be asked to move on?
I think I already made my arguments clear but as an illustrative example I'll like you to consider the following discussion going on at this moment at Atheist Nexus site called Here we go again in the group Convert the Women
So, according to what you have stated, should that whole discussion be censored? or just the posts of the people who said profanities? (this particular question is for Alok Bashki, maybe not for you Nicholas)...but how could the other users understand the arguments if individual posts are been censored? is that discussion inappropriate? cause I myself find it quite appropriate but it does mention certain aspects of sexuality which I might find distasteful and thus inappropriate. I think what I'm aiming at is that while it's easier to abstractly condem certain attitudes, in real life there are so many shades of gray that this issue of censorship gets so complicated that at the end we'll be relying on mods to delete posts according to their personal taste and that I find unacceptable.
Interesting point of view but I must difer. You see, if profanity weren't allowed in this site and moderators were always on the lookout for any profane words being uttered and censor those posts; well, quite frankly they would even have to censor Brother Richard lol (and about half the discussions I've seen).
there's another reply I made in this thread which refers to what you just said Alok, please take a look scrolling up to my reply where there's a link in blue... did you find it?
I think what you've proposed is a very baseline set of rules for content and quite appropriate. I think it can be mostly whittled down to anything that is clearly abusive of others as well as content that simply doesn't have any place here (I'm thinking of pornography, bestiality and so on). However I would leave room for making policies that are advantageous to AN as a private group such as agreeing to keep profanity out of group names. Not because it's offensive but simply because it causes problems. There may be other decisions that need to be made from a business standpoint that unfortunately might upset some people but be good for AN in the long term.

All mods should be responsible for facilitating a reasonably comfortable environment for all. It's not possible to put this all on one person (i.e. Brother Richard). This is not about making mods police or enforcers at all, although sometimes that will clearly be the role they must take. Warnings should be a requirement. I strongly believe that less is better when it comes to moderation and I would hope that any overzealous moderation would be slapped down quite quickly.
I agree entirely.
In Rosa's original premise she state's that she feels that censorship should be limited to those "cases in which a user advocates for human or animal rights violations"

I concur with this - it is intent that is the key - And yet in nearly all the ensuing discussion, words are talked about as if they are the same as the deed - this is erroneuos. I can talk about child pornography, bestiality, fuck Islam and shoving a bible up the popes arse -all without advocating them! I could even be discussing the rights and wrongs of child pornography with an advocate of it and that still should be acceptable [the discussion not his advocacy lol.]

but what it keeps coming back to here is a blanket approach based on words in titles! I discussed why I think that is such a bad idea here *grin* All censorship is bad - and my answer to those who continually bleat about being protected from things that might offend them is the same as it always is - well what the fuck are you reading/watching/looking at it for if it offends you!

I enjoy the site and have made some good friends already - hi Rosa! :) so I'll accept consensus in the end - but beware of creating a safe vanilla site, acceptable to comfortable middle class America :) [btw - that's an insult in my book - comfortable middle class American = fat Jesuit pig = stupid soviet apparatchik etc *grin*]
Michaela,

I agree with the premise of your post. Unfortunately, on this site we are not as "free" as we would like to be. We are having very few complaints from people about words. Our "censorship" issues have come from two very different avenues.

First, hundreds of members check out the site while working. Good or bad, most of the NSFW filters automatically reject sites with certain "trigger" words. Until software developers train their programs to interpret the intent of these triggers, we have to work within the system.

Second, as our site grows, we must be aware of the unfair scrutiny that we will fall under. If you are aware of the media attacks against the Daily Kos you will know what I mean. We, the collective, will be judged by what is perceived as our lowest common denominator. This is wrong and disgusting, but it is the reality.

For both these reasons, we cannot allow any discussion of "child pornography, bestiality, fuck Islam and shoving a bible up the popes arse." Even if someone is speaking against them. There are plenty of sites where this may be acceptable, but not here.

Also, we will disallow any group or forum post that is disparaging against any individual or group. This is why groups like "fuck Christianity" or "fuck Islam" are unacceptable. We would not allow a group called "fuck homosexuality" or "fuck democrats." The same issues can be debated without those titles. This also leads to my final issue with your post.

I understand your intent and appreciate your position when you criticize "comfortable middle class Americans." But this is the same derogatory name calling that we should avoid. I am sure you do not intend to disparage this entire group of people. However, this is how it comes across. This is just as bad as someone blanketing all "blacks," "all gays," or "all atheists."

Anyway, thanks for your contributions to the site. We are honored to have you and many have expressed appreciation for how welcoming you have been to them.

Thanks,

Richard
Thank you Brother Richard :) As I've said here and elsewhere I'm content to accept consensus, so please just see this as a discussion of ideas not an attempt to change the policy of the Nexus. *grin*

With middle class America I was indeed talking about a group - not as in individuals however, but as in a collective that has it's own zeitgeist, this does not mean all middle class people share this view or that all who share the view are middle class :) It is simply the mainstream view of American society.

While the worst examples of intolerance and bigotry are easily laid at the feet of minority extremists, what is not so comfortable for people to admit is the culpability of mainstream society, that out of self interest, a desire to maintain the status quo and fear of change acquiesces in act's that it professes to despise.

To me, you've provided ample evidence of this in your statements above - you are not talking about protecting the site against a lunatic fringe but against mainstream thought in your country :) Not to mention the palpable sense of fear so many American atheists have expressed here with regard to being outed - once again, it is not a fear of a lunatic fringe but of mainstream society - at least the local variety :)

As for disparaging remarks and "name calling" as you put it, I agree, when talking about individuals or a group of people - but *note* people not groups. When talking about groups we are talking about the sum of the parts, not the parts themselves, we're talking about zeitgeist once again, the collective view - and this should be open to criticism, analysis, lampooning, disparagement etc.

So when I said "middle class American = fat Jesuit pig = stupid soviet apparatchik etc" it was meant in the manner of a cartoonist lampooning an attitude or creating a caricature to highlight a prevailing view. In other words I was condemning the zeitgeist not a middle class American *grin*

This applies to all, I might add - including blacks, gays, atheists etc. any collective view held by a group or sub-group must be open to evaluation, criticism, discussion, lampooning etc.

to finish on an amusing note - or at least one I find amusing *grin* - the crack about shoving a bible up the popes arse came from a song by a band called Scream Club the song is "Don't Fuck With My Babies" here it is - Once again I'd like any comments lol.

PS - I'm of to post it in the Feminist group & the Gay group because it is equally appropriate to those issues :)

In most cases, the things you list are already illegal, and therefore it is in our best interest to censor them. As an extremely strong advocate for free speech, I still agree that we must adhere to the law. I am not interested in belonging to a group that promotes any of those things and I'd hope most of us would agree.

This is a private site, and the owners have the right to set community standards. Since your target audience are freethinkers, it would be wise to keep the parameters as broad as possible, as we will all decide if it is in our best interest to stay if it becomes too restrictive, but I have no issue with illegal activities to be restricted here as well. Just my .02.

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