Censors and Cowards

So that we’re all on the same page, here are some handy definitions:

Censor: an official who examines materials (as publications or films) for objectionable matter. For example: Government censors deleted all references to the protest.

Coward: a person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty,opposition, pain, etc.; a timid or easily intimidated person.

When someone deletes a troll’s comments, it’s not at all unusual for the troll to complain that the owner/moderation of the blog/forum/discussion group is a censor and/or a coward. Not only is that not true, but it’s so stupid it inspired me to write an entire post about it.

When you censor someone’s writing, you are preventing it from reaching a significant number of people.  Here in Canada, our customs agents can censor shipments of books by refusing to allow them across the border. According to the Canada Border Services Agency’s Policy on the Classification of Obscene Material:

2. One category of goods (tariff item 9899.00.00) differs
from all others however, and involves material that is
suspected of constituting obscenity under subsection 163(8)
of the Criminal Code. The Customs Tariff prohibits the
importation of such material into Canada, including written,
visual and audio materials.
(emphasis mine)

Because Canada customs is a government agency, they actually do have the power to censor people. Refusing to allow material into the country is a fairly effective way of controlling what all the residents of Canada can and cannot read.

A publishing company, however, is physically unable to publish every book submitted to them. Picking and choosing which books to publish doesn’t make them censors, it makes them rational. By definition, a single blogger’s refusal to approve any particular comment, or to edit a comment until it meets their approval is not censorship. Nothing I do on my blog prevents anyone from commenting elsewhere, starting their own blog, making pamphlets and handing them out on the street, or just yelling about their ideas on a street corner.

Because FetLife is an overwhelmingly popular kinky social network, it could be argued that its refusal to post a given comment anywhere on the site would be censorship. Deleting a post from someone’s own writings section would likely be a dick move, but it wouldn’t necessarily be censorship. They can always comment on other sites, after all. Insisting that someone follow the rules that they agreed to follow when they joined the group is definitely not censorship. Again, having to edit yourself to meet a group’s standards, or even being banned from that group in no way prevents you from joining another group and commenting there, starting your own group and commenting there, commenting on your ‘wall’ or your friends walls, posting in your ‘writings’ section, adding your comment to your profile, joining another discussion site entirely and commenting there, commenting on another blog, or starting your own blog. That sounds like an awful lot of options to me.

As for group rules, not only do you have to read them (or at least scroll past them) to join the group in the first place, but nothing is forcing anyone to join a group with rules they don’t like. Also, group rules, at least the ones that I’ve seen tend not to be very restrictive. Disagreeing civilly and refraining from outright bashing other group members is simply not that great a hardship. And if you really feel the need to ridicule people for being idiots, there are always personal blogs 🙂

Speaking of ridiculing idiots, it has finally become necessary to have a comment policy on my blog. Namely, idiots will be ridiculed and, after at most one warning, banned. My blog is not a democracy.

Now, let’s get to the ridiculing. Someone going by the name rjkj attempted to post the following comment on my post about ‘forced’ feminization:

i think that forced fem is a monstrosity and it should be wiped from the face of the earth like the crap it is. And im an athiest so gone preach bible nonsence but i do belive that women should sumit to to men and deal with i mean if thier abusive then thats diferent but it doesnt justify this crap nothing does.

For starters, that’s a truly impressive number of misspellings and grammatical errors for a two sentence comment. Hardly the worst thing about it, but it’s a particular pet peeve of mine. I feel that at least trying to spell correctly and use reasonable sentence structure is a sign of respect for the owner of the blog you’re commenting on. Rjkj’s comment might as well be graffiti for all the thought they put into stating their thoughts clearly.

The meat of my problem with this comment is the idea that women should submit to men. Only a worthless troll would come to a dominant woman’s blog and say that women are meant to submit. Don’t feed the trolls, you say? To quote Greta Christina:

“Don’t feed the trolls” is bull. Ignoring Internet misogyny is exactly how the trolls get fed. Speaking up destroys them.

If I ignore this troll, they might think that their comment was just eaten by a glitch. Quietly deleting comments from the moderation queue fails to send the message that being an asshole is not cool. Trolls, and more importantly every else reading, need to hear that what they’re doing is unacceptable. This is not censorship, it’s simply having standards. Rjkj is completely free to post their drivel anywhere but on my blog.

And it really is drivel. The second sentence is so poorly constructed I’m not entirely sure what they’re getting at. “im an athiest so gone preach bible nonsence”? Really? I’m afraid that calling yourself an atheist doesn’t magically make your opinions stop being nonsense. If you’re ‘not going to preach bible nonsense’ (my best guess at what rjkj meant), then what justification do you have for saying that women are meant to submit?

I have to say, I’m disappointed in the quality of troll I’ve gotten. Kitty Stryker’s trolls on her post about candid pornography put far more effort into being complete assholes. People, if you’re going to troll me, do it whole-assedly, okay? Half-assed trolling is just sad.

Now for the accusations of cowardice. Trying to hide a problem is certainly cowardly, and deleting unflattering comments is certainly one way of hiding a problem. Deleting comments that add nothing to the discussion, as in Kitty’s case, is not cowardice. It’s boredom. Aside from a flash of irritation, there’s nothing to trolls. They’re not making a point, they’re not thought-provoking, they’re not furthering discussion, they’re just being dicks.

In rjkj’s particular case, I can’t very well be accused of cowardice for singling out their comment for ridicule. However, any further stupidity from the same person will never make it out of the moderation queue. Why? Because rjkj is boring, and on the basis of their spelling and sentence structure, too stupid to argue with. I no more owe them space on my blog than a business owner owes vandals graffiti space on their building.