"In general I am in favour of free speech but..."
Reader comment in response to an interview with one of the moderators of Encyclopedia Dramatica.
To me this person completely contradicted themselves in 10 words. You cannot be in favour of free speech while supporting any form of censorship. There are no 'buts' with freedom of speech - it's all or nothing.
Encyclopedia Dramatica has some of the most confronting stuff I’ve seen on the internet. Read an article about any minority group (or majority group for that matter) and it will be filled with every offensive stereotype you can imagine and more. But should you censor this stuff because it is highly confronting and mostly offensive? Cunt is another word for vagina, e=mc2, coke is black and bubbly and according to ED - niggers love fried chicken. These are all valid pieces of the human web of knowledge. Every last scrap of this information was generated in the mind of a human and even if you do censor them they still exist. To me this makes ED just as valid as Wikipedia. It’s what you choose to do with knowledge that makes the difference. Like the majority of humans on this planet, I don’t want to hurt anyone.
It’s likely that ED will be blacklisted under the new internet clean-feed that the Government wants to implement. Unfortunately it will be one of the many sites that will be blocked because it will be given a classification of “Refused Classification”. The government reasons that anything that you can’t buy on the shelves in Australia now (i.e. – has an RC rating), will be blocked on the internet with the clean-feed. So it kind-of sounds reasonable, except that pretty much everything that is rated RC isn’t even illegal in the first place. For those of you out there into ‘golden-showers’ (or anything remotely kinky), sorry… you’ll have to hunt that stuff down via illegal avenues if the government have their way.
Already we have a government telling us what we can and can’t see on our store shelves even though it’s not necessarily illegal. All this done under the guise of the “Australian Classification Board” - really, they should actually be called the “Australian Censorship Board”. Who in the government is making these rules? Why are we not being consulted? If we’re going to ban ED because of its offensive content, perhaps we should have banned the works of Einstein. After all he was the one who proposed e=mc2, and that was key to the creation of the atomic bomb. Where does it stop? That’s the problem with censorship – once you begin, it can never end.
Having been reading about this topic for several months I’ve come to the conclusion that censorship is bad for humanity. It shouldn’t exist at all. However, classification is a good thing, we should have an informative system (don’t get me started on the whole R+18 rating for games) so everyone knows what they will be seeing before they look. Obviously this isn’t always going to work but that’s life.
"History is full of people who out of fear, or ignorance, or lust for power have destroyed knowledge of immeasurable value which truly belongs to us all. We must not let it happen again." – Carl Sagan
I would say more about the internet filter but there are others who have done a much better job than I ever could have. I urge you to read the following:
The Internet Filter Explained
An Interview with an ED Moderator