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Ethical Quandary

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Freedom of speech. A right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. One in which I strongly support. For it is freedom of speech that encourages the free-flowing of ideas. Allows for blogging. Publishing any and all thoughts, ideas, convictions.

A society in which the exchange of differing principles is a healthy one. We certainly know what happens in culture that stifles such expression. The word ‘censorship’ stirs up dark memories of a recent past. I am convinced that people must have access to diverse voices. Even voices spewing hatred. At least in theory…


Yesterday, I was notified that I had a comment awaiting moderation. If it was just a person with an opposite point-of-view, there would be no question. In keeping with my belief about censorship, I would allow the comment without hesitation. For the first time, however, someone filled with violent loathing and representing biased lies has left a comment. Anti-Israel. Anti-Zionist. Anti-American. Anti-Semitic.

What to do? Do I allow the comment? By incorporating it into my blog, does that allow for other hate-filled liars to use MY BLOG as a platform with which to spread their false understanding of history?

Even if you do not normally take the time to comment here, I ask that you do this time. After all, it is my readers who will be affected by my choice.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Thursday, 3 July 2008 1:38 pm

    I am grateful that the comments are moderated. I believe that protects us all. As I understand Freedom of Speech, it means that the government is prohibited from punishing people for expressing their opinions. Yet, even that has its limits. The well-known example is not permitting a person to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. People filled with hate have plenty of opportunities to express their loathsome ideas. You certainly have no obligation to provide them a forum. Indeed, you might lose valuable readers if they feel they may be subjected to anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, anti-American diatribes on this blog.

  2. Thursday, 3 July 2008 1:58 pm

    I wouldn’t have a problem with a comment that disagrees with your post, if presented in a thought-out respectful manner. I do have a problem with hate-filled comments. Some of your posts may be considered controversial, but never disrespectful or filled with hate. I would expect your readers to comment on your blog with the same respect.

  3. Thursday, 3 July 2008 2:28 pm

    I receive comments like that more often than I like. There is a line in my head that I won’t allow people to cross.

    Comments that go beyond that do not see the light of day. It is easy to criticize Israel, Judaism, whatever without resorting to racial epithets.

  4. Camille permalink
    Thursday, 3 July 2008 2:56 pm

    Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that YOU don’t have the right to decide what goes into YOUR blog! It also doesn’t mean that anyone can say/write anything they want anwhere they want. You have the right–the responsibility, even–to maintain your blog consistent with your values. If you value a respectful presentation of opinions, then I believe you’d be right to weed out comments that you find disrepectful, regardless of whether you agreed with them.

    It’s not about giving everyone a voice with no parameters. It’s about providing a forum for an exchange of ideas and for sharing opinions–within standards. And “standards” is not a dirty word, as some would have it be.

  5. Thursday, 3 July 2008 6:25 pm

    I agree with your DadGiraffe completely. There are plenty of outlets for people filled with anger and hate – it is not required of you to give them another, if you do not wish. That’s your freedom of speech, since this is your blog. If people wish to give voice to their own opinions, that’s what their blogs are for.
    Also, you’d have to give up your G rating, I’m assuming, if this place became un-moderated.

  6. Thursday, 3 July 2008 7:28 pm

    Yours is the blog I return to time and time again. Those with hate filled speech or ideas have numerous other outlets and while I am aware of them, I choose not to submit to reading them on a daily basis. Please continue to be a source higher standards and ideals. Continue to lift us up rather than the opposite!

  7. Thursday, 3 July 2008 7:30 pm

    This is definitely your playground and your rules.
    Having not read the post I can’t comment on it, however I was recently on another blog were someone with strongly opposing views was commenting on a religious gender issue. Thankfully, whether by lack of English skills or simple rabidness they came off looking pretty silly.

  8. Thursday, 3 July 2008 8:33 pm

    I’m a first timer here (Hi! Nice to meet you!) so my opinion doesn’t really count but, being a blogger and all, I am still going to share it. 😉

    I, personally, would not approve it. This is your space and you decide what words are alllowed here. Discussion is different than hate, and hate shouldn’t be permitted anywhere.

  9. Sunday, 6 July 2008 9:23 pm

    your house your rules. i have a comment policy…maybe that would make you feel better. if it’s posted, then you can always point it out.

  10. Monday, 7 July 2008 9:21 am

    Your living room, your rules.

    I find it helps to set a strong commenting policy, then approve or not based on those. Check Seraphic Secret or My Shrapnel for great comment policies.

  11. Rivkah permalink
    Monday, 7 July 2008 1:27 pm

    For someone to disagree respectfully with you is one thing. For someone to use the opportunity of posting as a soapbox for all the hate and nastiness they harbor internally is another. I agree with Phyllis that you should consider a posted comment policy. There’s no reason commenters shouldn’t be capable of civility.

    An aside, I haven’t posted before this, but I very much enjoy your blog. Even when not in complete agreement with my own, your views are well-thought-out, and I enjoy them. Thank you!

  12. Frume Sarah permalink
    Thursday, 10 July 2008 1:16 pm

    I appreciate the thoughtful responses! They confirmed what I was feeling and I have, in fact, deleted the ugly comment from the queue.

    And I will be crafting a comment policy in the near future. Great suggestion.

    And to those of you who are new to Frume Sarah’s World, welcome!

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