By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated G)
“The context of social networks serving as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people is not what we intended.”
-Former Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt 1
Censorship is the control of public speech by a government agency; it has always existed and always will. Even the freest government cannot allow state secrets to be published. Censorship, when kept in its legal place, is good; when it is not kept in its legal place, it is bad.
A young friend was posted to duty in Whosestupidideawasthisistan (and is safely home). I never asked him where he was and he never told. I didn’t need to know, nor did bad people who might want to dox out his parents’ identifications and location as well as that of the military unit’s location and mission.
I wish at this point to interrupt the development of my thesis on censorship and privacy in order to allude to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution which states in language simple enough for even a senator to understand that only Congress is empowered to declare war.
Now, back to censorship and privacy.
And then there is the matter of privacy, which is not censorship. Your bank account numbers, job evaluations, medical condition, legal titles, photographs, adoption papers, and so on are no one’s business but yours. If you refuse to release that information it is not censorship, it is privacy, and privacy is protected by the 4th Amendment.
Censorship has become a matter of discussion now because of the endless nonsense dribbling like the results of a bladder control issue from the various anti-social sites on the InterGossip. The free dissemination of news and, yes, gossip is now often challenged by those who want some InterGossip content restricted because it is “fake news,” which is defined as anything the reader disagrees with.
Grub Street, we’ve got a problem.
InterGossip sites and search engines are private enterprises, and are open to all customers. If someone on, say, MyFaceSpace says something that someone else doesn’t like, should MyFaceSpace be suppressed?
A rough comparison may be made to a paper company which sells paper of all sorts, including the paper used in books and magazines. If a sad wretch purchases a pack of paper and uses that paper to write wicked things, is the paper company at fault for that? Should the logger, pulpwood truck driver, or millworker be required to follow every sheet of paper and oversee how it is used?
Should the manufacturers of MePhones and the installers of InterGossip services be required by some government agency to regulate the conversations and content transmitted by citizens who purchase the gadgets and the bandwidth and airtime?
The problem, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars – or our gadgets or our sheets of paper – but in ourselves, that we suffer a collective tendency to believe whatever nonsense comes across on the InterGossip.
We are free to read or not to read, and free to dismiss someone else’s argument without demanding that a police officer enforce silence on that someone else.