So somebody has finally posted a link to pornography in the comments section (see nikkicraft, July 16 at 05:32 PM) of a ZNet blog that appeared the other day under Noam Chomsky’s name (“Hustler Interview Context,” July 12)!
And who knows what else in the 60-odd comments that turned up before this particular post. And are bound to turn up after it.
Anyway. Hopefully, ZNet’s moderator(s) will resist any tendency or pressure to delete this post and any others that may come along just like it. After all, they come with the territory, and ought to have been expected. Besides, to delete such a post would be to degrade Chomsky’s name and everything he stands for on questions concerning freedom and the overcoming of unjustified authority.
Still. I want to go on the record here stating as clearly as possible not only that this post both deserves to be, and to remain, exactly what and where it is. Without deletion from the space it currently occupies. And without the individual who posted it—who happens to be making a very powerful use of the space, incidentally—though whether it is or is not a powerful point ought to be quite irrelevant to the ultimate fate of the post—suffering banishment from the comments sections of the ZNet Blogs.
But, most important of all: I want my fellow ZNet bloggers who at any time in the past have deleted posts from the comments sections of their blogs to know what despicable acts I think those were. And what kind of company it shows you really keep. Progressive affectations to the contrary. All talk of “etiquette” aside.
To think that a project once upon a time as truly progressive, anti-authoritarian, and cutting-edge as Z‘s not only should have permitted one or more of its bloggers to delete the posts of others that they deemed inappropriate.
But also condoned this practice. And even defended it.
And this at Z?
Postscript. Within an electronic medium such as the comments sections of these ZNet Blogs make possible, can you imagine anything more authoritarian than the threat or use of the delete-command? As we used to say to each other while trying to resolve playground disputes as kids: Who elected you God?
Disgracefully, though, this is not the spirit in which some of the other bloggers have always run the space. But since the Blogs are divided into two sections, (a) the individual blogs (e.g., Michael Albert’s, mine, and so on), and (b) a comments section that follows each individually posted blog (i.e., there being as many comments sections as there are original blogs posted), it seems to me that each comments section ought to be treated as a common space, open to everyone to freely participate and use however they see fit.
Under no circumstances, therefore, should anyone ever feel compelled to post or not to post anything other than what he or she feels like posting. Nor should there be a Gestapo looking over the posters’ shoulders, breathing down their necks.
In the comments section, what any one person says goes as much as what any other person says.
No one owns it. No one possesses it more than anyone else. No one dictates its content.
Neither Lords. Nor subordinates. Nor hierarchy.
Postscript II. I see that Nikki Craft, the poster in the Chomsky case, happens to be involved with both the Hustling The Left website as well as the F.U.C.K. network (Feminists Uncovering Censorship Knowledgeably). According to the latter website, F.U.C.K. is “dedicated to fostering ethical and anti-oppressive, anti-repressive speech acts which expose unethical and oppressive and repressive speech acts.” And that their “first speech-action,” and perhaps their principal one as well, has been
exposing the unethical speech acts of Hustler Magazine. We have chosen Flynt’s magazine for exposure, due to the oft-held but mistaken belief that Flynt is pro-”Free Speech” and “Anti-Censorship”. Flynt has a long determined history of using his publications and videos as an attempt to silence feminists and their speech through systematic mischaracterizations, intimidation techniques, and racist, classist, and woman-hating mockery. He has shown no respect to women or feminist activists; rather, he uses and exploits women to make money.
We find this unethical: repressive of potentials for human intimacy, mutuality, and respect between women and men, while also demeaning and oppressive to women of all classes. Flynt, in short, is not remotely respectful or tolerant of feminists’ First Amendment right to speak out against him, and other racist, classist misogynists.
But now a few queries for everyone at F.U.C.K. and Hustling The Left.—
Can you tell me whether any of Larry Flynt’s media properties includes a web-based blog-and-comments section similar to the ZNet Blogs? (Specifically, I mean one set up so that the bloggers get to post their material, and each and every individual blog automatically generates its own space in which other people can post comments.)
And if there is a Flynt site set up such as this, can you tell me whether the bloggers (or whatever they may call themselves) at the Flynt site have ever engaged in deleting posts that the general public places on the site—as, for example, Nikki Craft was to post to the comments section of Chomsky’s July 12 blog?
And can you tell me whether the Flynt site ever prohibits (or bans) certain individuals from posting again?
Last, whether or not the Flynt site deletes comments and bans certain individuals from ever posting again, can you tell me what you think about any site that would engage in such practices?
Apologies if the comparison is fuzzy and unclear. The fact of the matter is that I’ve never actually seen the Flynt site—though I have now seen the F.U.C.K. and Hustling The Left sites.
Besides, I tend to avoid blogs like the plague.