Thursday, December 30, 2010

No need for censorship, when you have self-censorship

In the Jihad Watch thread in which I have become an off topic, Marisol wrote:

And the initial point stands: We do not selectively delete people's names from random comments like a Joan Crawford character cutting faces out of a photo album.

To which the obvious observation leaps to mind:

Sure, you don't have to delete people's names from random comments (or even from un-random comments), when the commenters do it for you.

The revelation that one such commenter -- "dumbledoresarmy", an otherwise intelligent, erudite, helpful, assertive supporter of Jihad Watch over the years -- actually felt herself inhibited from the unremarkably normal (at least in a sane universe) typography of citing the name of the author (the dreaded Andrew Bostom) of a book (the dreaded The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism) she was talking about is disturbing enough. Were "dumbledoresarmy" a simpleton or a sheep, it would not be that remarkable. The fact that she is as intelligent, erudite, helpful and assertive as she is makes the question -- why did she feel so inhibited she felt she had to censor herself? -- that much more acute. It is fast becoming outrageous that nobody over at Jihad Watch seems to care, and instead seem to care more about their faultfinding of me and my "obsession".

So yes, it's bad when the free expression of an intellectual community is officially censored from on high, and it's good when it's not. But is it that much better when the members of that intellectual community dutifully police themselves in the name of the censorship of free expression?

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