Free speech

There is an opinion that is going around in these times of blogging, commenting, and twittering. This opinion states that every blog is a venue for free speech. The corollary to that is this: if someone deletes a comment another person made in one’s own blog, one is suppressing free speech.

Well, this opinion is false. I would not try to suppress someone else’s blog from the blogosphere. Not only is it impossible, but it’s their blog. They have the right to say whatever they want to say, and I have no right to try to suppress that in their blog. If I don’t like what that person says there, then I have the option to use the “Page Down” key to scroll it by.

However, when I am writing in my blog, I do have the right (and privilege) of suppressing comments to my blog posts that I don’t wish to appear in my blog. This is not suppressing free speech. The analogy is the “Letters to the Editor” in a newspaper. The newspaper is not required by law or custom to print every letter sent to it, no matter how inaccurate, hateful, or even libellous it is. That is because the newspaper owns the printing press. When the letter’s author buys his or her own printing press and prints a newspaper (analogy: starts his or her own blog and writes in it) then s/he is perfectly privileged to write whatever s/he pleases.

If it were suppressing free speech to delete a comment (and if that were illegal/immoral/fattening) Live Journal wouldn’t allow an author to delete comments.

I won’t go into the other situation where people mistake “Live Journal friends” for “real life friends”. This is often not the case. I haven’t met most of my “LJ friends” and probably won’t. But, of course, I said that I won’t go into this so I guess I won’t.

For various reasons, I am screening replies to this post. And if I suppress your reply, remember, just post something in your own blog.

5 Responses to “Free speech”

  1. qnetter says:

    Obviously, you’re entitled to run your LJ the way you see fit.

    But to me, either you allow comments to a journal (or an individual post) or you don’t. Having comments enabled is an invitation to people to tell you what they think; asserting that they can say what they think as long as you want it to appear is a lot like starting a conversation at a party in your own home and, when you don’t like what someone says, saying “it’s my home – shut up.”

    By analogy, I think it’s only appropriate to delete comments that, if a person made the same remark in your home, you’d ask them to leave.

    (As for LJ friends, I disagree with you there as well — I don’t think there are more than 5% of my LJ friends that I’ve never met in person, or if I haven’t, have good mutual friends and have known them online for at least a few years in space beyond LJ. I wouldn’t sully the word “friend” otherwise. But, again, your journal.)

  2. legalmoose says:

    “Suppressing free speech” applies to the government, not to private entities – the only protection guaranteed (at least in the U.S.) is that the government will not interfere with speech. Private broadcasters and publishers are free to deny the use of their services to anyone they disagree with (within anti-discrimination laws, where applicable, of course). Most people who scream about “free speech” when their comments are deleted haven’t the least clue about how this process works, of course.

  3. rfmcdpei says:

    The Volokh Conspiracy notes that if people feel censored they can always start up their own blogs.

  4. chrishansenhome says:

    Most people who scream about “free speech” when their comments are deleted haven’t the least clue about how this process works, of course.

    Truer words have seldom been written.

  5. chrishansenhome says:

    I thought that a link to the Volokh Conspiracy might be a good thing in case someone over here didn’t know what it was.