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People who throw around accusations of censorship, when government is not involved may be engaging behavior that endangers the first amendment.
I just approved an article from the queue titled Spirit of censorship haunts discourse
. I disagree with what the writer DC Larson asserts:
"Advocates of quashing expression contrary to their particular views will in a heartbeat announce that theirs cannot be a censorial effort, as censorship refers to government action, not citizens'.
While technically true, that argument is meant to blur that self-appointed and unaccountable interest groups aim to engineer the same chilling effect as did, say, the Reagan-era Meese anti-pornography Commission or a slew of Moral Majority book burners.
I call it the Spirit of Censorship."
I'm one of those who say that censorship is done by government. When publishers make decisions on whether or not to publish it is not censorship. Period.
Conflating editorial decisions and content curation with censorship is very dangerous, like shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater. Why? It muddies the waters and weakens the real protections against censorship done by government. if everyone starts claiming that censorship is being perpetrated, then the seriousness of real censorship, by government, is diluted.
Freedom of speech IS being threatened. Whistleblowers are being prosecuted at historically high levels. Pulitzer winning NY Times journalist James Risen is living under threat of jail for not disclosing a source. Journalism is under real threat-- from the Obama administration and the Holder justice department, from security and intelligence agencies trying to silence truth-tellers.
I say that every publisher has a right and obligation to make decisions on what it publishes. Those decisions are based on a number of factors. While people have the right to write and say things, they do not have a right to be published. The NY Times does not have an obligation to publish what every narcissistic hack writer submits, even if the writer thinks his article is THE article that will save the world. He or she can write that article and post it where he has the ability to post content-- his blog, on facebook, etc.-- but saying that rejecting it is censorship is not only untrue. It can also be ignorant, self-indulgent, reckless and dangerous to abuse the integrity of the first amendment by blaming people doing their editorial and curatorial jobs.
When people falsely shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater, they risk endangering people's lives. and the Supreme court concluded
that this is not protected free speech and could be a crime.
When people falsely argue that editorial decisions are censorship, they are endangering the first amendment, and it's in enough danger already from real threats, like over-reaching presidents and government agencies.
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