Thursday, July 06, 2006

When do you know that censorship has gone too far?

I am miffed. Not just miffed, but pretty pissed off. If you know me, you know it takes a lot to get me po'd. What has me all worked up? Censorship. I have been censored. I don't like it, and I don't think it's fair.

I belong to a stay-at-home mom meetup group here in Erie. Someone had posted on our message board asking for some info on a certain company. I originally thought it was a phone company of some sort. When it was brought out that it was a telemarketing company, I made the comment to the effect that I hate telemarketers. They call at the most inconvenient times and never take no for an answer. I've had to ask for their supervisor before (so has Brian), just to tell them to STOP CALLING ME! This was after I hung up on them because they would not take no for an answer. Yep, that's right, they called me back! Anyway, I digress. Apparently, someone in our group works for this company and was offended because I said I hate telemarketers. I have yet to meet this person and had no idea that she worked for this company or that she was a telemarketer at all. So, instead of coming to me about it, she went to the organizers of the group.

When I got online Tuesday after being gone all weekend, I had an im from one of the organizers telling me they were concerned about my reply that I hate telemarketers and that I offended one of the members because she is a telemarketer. They then asked me to rephrase my response, which I was happy to do. I would gladly have explained myself, letting her know that I didn't know she was a telemarketer, and that I was not directing anything toward her, especially since I've never met her before. However, upon trying to do that, I found that my response had been deleted already. Now, I realize that the organizer of the group has that right, but when does that right go to far? Is it worth alienating a few of your members to keep one happy?

So, I'm wondering, when did the "right to NOT be offended" take precedence over the right to free speech? Don't I have a right to say what I feel, even if it risks offending someone? I'm not the type of person to purposely offend anyone. I don't try to do that and I wasn't trying to do that here. I was just expressing the way I felt. But, apparently, I am not allowed to do that with that particular group.

So much for freedom of speech....

Comments on "When do you know that censorship has gone too far?"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:34 PM) : 

You have freedom of speech and you just exhibited that by posting in your blog. But the last word goes to the owner of the forum/group/board/host on which you posted your comments. Many groups have very strict rules about what they consider "hate speech." If they don't allow comments such as "I hate Jews," then they probably won't (and shouldn't) allow statements like "I hate telemarketers" or "I hate plumbers." Think of it as writing a letter to the can say whatever you want in the letter, but the newspaper has the final say as to whether it gets published or not.

As long as they make the rules clear up front and apply them across the board, I don't see a problem.

Have you registered on the Do Not Call list? I haven't gotten a single telemarketing call since I registered. It's wonderful!


Blogger Jerry said ... (4:48 PM) : 

Certainly, private groups have the right to stifle speech to any degree they wish. I do agree with you, however, that it seems that society has taken the "right not to be offended" and placed it in paramount position in relation to any other right or privilege, especially speech. It's the byproduct of a blameless society, where self-esteem is king, brought on by a strict adherence to moral relativism.

You know who I blame this on? Well, not me, of course.


Blogger Trisha said ... (5:42 PM) : 

See, Emma, that's the problem. There are no specific rules about that stuff. As specific as it gets is to not bash other members. But I couldn't possibly have been bashing another member since I didn't even know she was a tellemarketer.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:29 PM) : 

I am from Corry. My dear wife is a stay-at-home mom. I didn't realize there were SAHM's out there? (just being a smartass)

Seriously, I thought it wasn't politically correct to be a SAHM!

All the Best!


Blogger Michael K Mahler said ... (9:47 AM) : 

Hmm, I am not certain that the term censorship applies when it is something over than a government. Turning this around, let's say that I left some content in here that you found to be disturbing or inappropriate. Example, I say that it's a shame that Al Qaeda didn't kill more folks on 9/11, or that all Christians are basically Nazis, advocating legalizing heroin for preschool age children or used a string of curse words describing your family. You would, quite justifiably I think, probably remove such a wildly inappropriate comment. I think that there is a difference between a private individual or group deciding what will be be posted in the space that they are paying for or running as a business versus the government declaring that it is illegal for anyone to engage in some form of speech or expressive comment.

Therefore, since you oppose censorship, I take it you also oppose a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning? You also oppose the Bush administration's policy of not allowing to be shown the coffins of soldiers who died in Iraq? You also think that Shirley Phelps-Roeper should be allowed to demonstrate today in Bradford at the military funeral of the soldier who died in Iraq? The Westboro Baptist Church, which mostly consists of the members of the family of Fred Phelps, Shirley's dad, are a right wing group of wackos who are protesting at military funerals because they believe that America is too tolerant of gays. Their official web site is They first gained notoriety protesting at Matthew Shepherd's funeral. I got a call yesterday that dear Shirley was hitting Bradford to raise a ruckus at a funeral. They see this as spreading Gods word.

I am not sure which of these legitimately be restrained. Persoanlly, I oppose an amendment to ban flag burning I don't think that it's a frequent enough problem for so drastic a measure. I think that the Bus administration should have to deal with the consequences of sending people off to die in a trumped up war. Although some states have passed laws banning protests at funerals and the Phelps clan are truly detestable, I don't think that the law will pass constitutional muster.

Sorry about the long ramble, but I wanted to point out that censorship quite frequently comes from directions other than those cited ib other replies, and that the issue can be trickier than it first appears.


Blogger Michael K Mahler said ... (12:46 PM) : 

A truly egregious example of censorship about a veteran being threated with arrest simply for wearing a T-Shirt in a VA facility that read Veterans for peace. Your government at work, folks. Click here


Blogger Trisha said ... (10:08 PM) : 

Well, I appreciate your oppinion. There have been some rather nasty comments made about my family (see poster Steve in the Plan B post) that I did not delete. It is, after all, his right to say what he did. That's the beauty of free speech. Even if I am offended (and I was) and even if I think what he has said is vulgar and/or wrong. It is free speech nonetheless.

No, I don't agree with the ammendment to ban flag burning. That, too, is a right people have, even though I think it's detestable. I have no idea who Shirley Phelps-Roeper is, but I don't think it's appropriate for peole, wacko left wing or wacko right wing, to protest at ANY funeral, military or not, gay or not.

I would not be complaining if this were something the group did across the board. But it is not. It is selective. And there are no clear rules as to what is allowed and what is not in terms of replies or posts. Why, then, am I to be told that my response was inappropriate and some of the others were not? When is it fair to single out one person in a group of 26? Aren't we all human? Don't we all make mistakes, say things which we don't mean, or say things in a way in which we probably could have said it better?


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