Free speech and the private sector and Bobby Tony blocking comments
Published: Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 @ 2:41 pm
By: Bobby Tony ( More Entries )
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Why I block people on my comments at BCN.
Here is why I block comments on some of my posts. I have found that there is seldom a resolution when debating in the comment section. The publisher has wisely allowed writers to block all comments or block selected comments. He also allows the writer to delete comments, as they deem necessary. Some had hinted that it is cowardly to block comments. The publisher has the administrative prerogative to comment on any and all post. I create a post not to change minds but to offer my opinion or an experience and nothing more. I am neither on a crusade for change nor am I terribly interested in the number of views for my post. I have found that creating post which often contains some personal observations or information allows me to be more thoughtful and circumspect in forming my own opinions. The post are more like messages in a bottle, I set them afloat and if they are found so be it, if not so be it. Neither event will change the world.
I have also found that open comments are often used to begin a diatribe on the commentor personal opinions rather than a rational discussion of the subject of the post. Sometimes the comments are nothing more than a hijack of the post to divert attention away from the main points of the post.
It often reminds me of the old saying, "Never get in a mudslinging contest with a pig because the pig likes it." For the same reason I usually apply the same technique to debates in the comment section that I do when walking down the street; If I see a pile of crap in my way, I don't make any effort to determine who left it or why it is there. I just step around or step over it and go on my way. In my opinion, debates in the comment section are the digital equivalent to a pile of crap on the sidewalk.
Sometimes people get confused about what Freedom of Speech actually means. It does not mean you can say anything you want to at any time in any location.
Application to cyberspace: Many private institutions with religious affiliations prohibit blasphemy on campus. These institutions may apply the same restrictions in cyberspace, limiting expression in Web pages, e-mail, Usenet postings, chat rooms, and any other Internet communication.
Click here for link to additional information on the context of Freedom of Speech
The laws are even MORE restrictive when you are in a private location. This includes a private person's home, their car, their back yard, and their private web forum. All of these are owned by an individual and are governed by the rules of that individual. This is a critical part of law, that an individual has full rights over what is said in the location they own.
It is nonsensical for a person in that situation to complain, "but I can paint my house blue in Orlando, Florida, so I should be able to do it here too." That comparison has nothing to do with the rules of the private entity. If a private entity chooses to make rules about X or Y, then those rules are in force in that private location. They are legally binding.
The same is true for a web forum. A web forum is a private location, run by a private entity, and maintaining a set of rules for all forum members to abide by. Those rules are publicly posted and all members need to abide by them.
Additional useless information on posting laws
I usually post a paragraph at the end of opinion post that I hope explains the issue.
"Certain Comments on this post have been disabled because a reasoned and opposite view deserves its own forum. Feel free to write and submit a post. It will add to the debate without deteriorating into a slug fest".
The fact that I felt it necessary to even create a post on this subject is evidence enough that the comments section can be and has been abused in my opinion.
I admit that I have not always followed my own rule and debated on other post but eventually concluded that comments over about 80 words may be better expressed as a standalone post. But I may continue to comment on post as the keys are always in the writers hands and not mine.
As long as the format allows blocking comments, I will continue to do so occasionally but it is not to censor or prevent alternate opinions. I will also comment on other's post when allowed. It is the writer's choice to allow or disallow comments.
It is just tiring to rehash the same items repeatedly but: