Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Worst Part of Censorship is...



I write books for a living. Both fiction and nonfiction. And one thing that stick's in my craw is censorship. Whether it is censorship of an author or artist's artistic vision, I cannot tolerate censorial attitudes. Whether it is censorship of a live video of an author talking on YouTube about their craft, I think the urge to censor reveals a lot about the people wanting to censor others.

​Censorship is just something I cannot abide. And it's worth saying a few words on.

Censorship of ideas is a form of thought police. It limits free expression of ideas. It kills discourse dead. It interrupts the dialectic with the white noise of whiners and complainers who'd rather hear the sound of their own caterwauling than try to have a civil discussion.

​Like the image above, it leaves blanks spaces in our discourse. As the button says, the worst part of censorship is.... *message redacted.*
​It leaves you paranoid and wondering about what the information was. Was it important? Trivial? Was it dangerous? Or vital to our safety? You see, censorship changes our perception by deleting information that helps us evaluate or determine certain ideas. Perhaps worse still, is it leaves open a gap to be filled with Newspeak. That every overly politically correct dialog that is filtered through government bodies, regulated, and monitored. When governments begin to censor, things take a dangerous turn down a dark path. But it is no less disreputable when individual's try to censor one another either.

​I was recently censored by a fellow author in an online discussion because I called him on something he said that I perceived to be racist, and I may have used a curse word in my response. God forbid someone get angry at a racist comment and cuss at the person who said it. But, if you're wondering, I didn't use too harsh of language. Not really. Just told him to shove his puritanical white privilege where the sun don't shine.

​Now, after the fact, it's quite clear to me he didn't quite fully understand why his comment was racist. Institutional racism often goes unnoticed by those who have failed to check their white privilege. But it was basically a political directed comment about all the minorities and people complaining about the Trump election and the results of the presidential campaign. This person, although probably not intentionally trying to be racist, essentially made the unveiled comment that these people weren't true American's and they should get out.

​But it was in a public post, and the setting of the post was set to public, and I take that to mean the person has set up the discourse to be a public discourse. Instantly my post was removed and the author called me out to say he doesn't allow "bad" words.

​But he's fine with insinuating people of color and minorities should get out, because they can't accept the results of the election.

Way to stay classy.

What he neglected to do, however, was look at things from their perspective and maybe, just maybe, take the time to sympathize with their very real concerns. Instead, in condescending and dismissive fashion, he told them to get out.

​That's shirking responsibility and brushing your hands for dismissing an entire group of people--and that IS institutional racism. Instead of addressing their concerns, which may be genuine if not entirely valid, he wanted them to pack their opinions up, shut up, and leave. That won't solve anything. And quite frankly, it's rude as hell.

And I spoke out against what I perceived to be mistreatment of others.

And got censored for it.

​"My house, my rules," was the response I got.

And, well, it was on his blog, so he has the right to regulate content as he sees fit. But he chose to censor someone calling out institutional racism and who dared to challenge his point of view.

​And that's the problem, you see.

If you only want to retreat to the echo chamber of your own biases and prejudices, you'll never grow as an individual. Your imagination will suffer, because you will never expand your mind enough to make your art meaningful, your personality well rounded, or your worldview broad and all encompassing.

Your opinion will lack experience, knowledge, and will be restricted to all the other white noise of those with limited intellects, endless opinions on everything they know nothing about, and who seemingly have a never ending urges to speak their mind--as if their uneducated opinions meant anything to anyone with have a brain.

​But I won't sensor their opinions. Even the dumbass ones who say #DAF things like, "Trump was the lesser of two evils."

But I will shut down their racism.

​Because although I'm against censorship overall, there are two things I won't hesitate to censor. Racists. And sexist (often misogynistic) bigots.

Attack people of color, I shut you down.

Attack people for their gender or sexual orientation, I shut you down.

It may be your house, your rules, but why would I care about your rules if you're a sexist, racist, pig? Come on, I have a modicum of self respect, and acquiescence to bigotry is never noble.

What I will do, however, is shut you down.

That said, it is my humble opinion that restricting their views isn't technically censorship. Not really. Allow me to explain.

Censorship of hate doesn't limit how they can express their dissatisfaction. Not in the same way as limiting what words people can or cannot use. Shutting down their hate doesn't prevent them from stating in grown up words why they think or feel the way they do. But telling someone to stop complaining and get out does. And further, telling anyone who stands up for those people to shut up and then deleting their comments, is limiting in such a way that causes harm to the discourse.

So, you see, shutting down hate isn't censorship. It's getting rid of a cancer.

​Even so, I should point out that when it comes to racism and sexism that are parts of stories, characters, whether in books, television, or movies...I think that all of it should be allowed because it captures the climate of the time and preserves it for posterity. With perhaps the addendum that it's not propaganda unfairly singling out or targeting people to attack.

​But people who make direct attacks on others. I do not accept that as a fair form of expression. And I will always jump to the aid of the downtrodden, the abused, the underprivileged, the minority. And that you can count on.

Does that make me a keyboard justice warrior? Hardly. I don't seek out assholes trying to pick a fight. I just stand up to them when they're picking on others. Or when they're acting superior. Or when they are being dicks. And I'll call them on it.

Censor me if you'd like. But that says more about you than it does me.

​Anyway, I just wanted to vent. Sorry for the interruption. Now back to your regular scheduled programming.

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist