This is really important folks...this is about the very fabric of a free society and the spirit of this blog site; freedom of speach.
I love ATS/BTS and have enjoyed reading literally thousands and thousands of posts and have learned a great deal about a wide variety of topics and
ideas. I felt it has been for the most part a very successful forum for the “free flow” and “free exchange” of ideas and information,
organized well in categories and kept to topic well by excellent forum moderators.
Recently however, I have been extremely disappointed in what I feel is blatant censorship by staff on several topics and I will point out two primary
examples. What I believe leads them to stop a thread is that they “feel” or “judge” the thread to be too “offensive” or controversial and
then believe it best for the site to stop and lock up a thread, or in some cases I would imagine, even have one removed. This is where the rubber
meets the road. How should one define what is offensive or too controversial and if so does that mean that the idea can not be explored? Consider
the flag burning issue. Yes, I too find it offensive when a flag is burned, however it has been ruled free speech. Is ATS/BTS for or against free
speech? I would argue that they are for it, but with constraints, and I submit in the two instance I am about to share, that the constraints are
indeed to constricting, and as a result have shut out the free flow of further discussion about the topic in lieu of offending a percentage of the
people interested in the topic area.
Example 1. www.abovetopsecret.com...
I took a multicultural class during graduate studies at University and was very
interested in this thread area. Did I agree with everyone in it? No way! Was I offended by what some people had written? Of course I was. It’s
an incredibly controversial topic area and so one would expect a bunch of people to not handle it maturely, but should the baby be tossed out along
with the dirty bath water? Anyway, after reading a few pages it occurred to me that a very important point in that field of discussion was lacking in
the thread and I really wanted to post it because I think it was seriously important and is an integral point in the academic study of racism and
multicultural studies. Much to my dismay and great disappointment, when I decided to post, I found that the moderators had decided on locking up the
thread making it prohibitive to reply. I would assume it was done in the name of “protecting us from being offended”, but what the action did
instead was prevent further discussion and did not allow for the thread to freely take it’s course where it could evolve and grow, or perhaps shrink
Example 2. www.belowtopsecret.com...
*thread insert* I have entered into debate and discussion multiple times on the area
of religion on here, and have read so many posts whereby a religious person or creationist comes on here and I for one have found a ton of “their
stuff” greatly offensive. I have however, also learned from them, and freely entered into the thread whereby I knew what I was reading about in the
first place, and had a general good idea of what to expect and what I would likely encounter. However, despite myself and others being greatly
offended by some of these other threads and explicit name calling even, I have seen very few of these threads closed or locked up. The one I started
*thread insert* of course is going to be offensive to some, but not to all, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to point out the obvious
stranglehold religion has on people’s minds and perception, almost to an absurd level whereby all reason and objectiveness flies out the door when
one dares to challenge these castles in the sky. Anyway, it was posted at BTS and didn’t even survive a full 12 hours before it was locked away. A
lot of people happen to agree with what the thread was about, and I feel it was a knee jerk reaction by the staff to stop what they felt was something
that was “too controversial” or “offensive” and so locked it up. Once again, to perhaps appease the holly rollers, the Christians, the
religious, the creationists, the free flow of information and exploration of ideas was curtailed. Now, if this were a church and I walked in and
proclaimed such a thing, I think it would be extremely inappropriate, however this is not a religious web site. It’s a forum for alternative
topics, conspiracy theories, and obscure fringe ideas.
I am very surprised at this to say the least. One of the most attractive aspects to this web site has been the exploring of topic areas far outside
of the mainstream. Of course some of it is going to be offensive to some, that’s the nature of these topic areas!!!
What recourse does one have with the staff when a thread you want to participate in and make further contributions and learn from is suddenly closed
down? I’m stopping short of saying there is a pro-religious or politically correct agenda going on at ATS/BTS, because I don’t think it’s at
that level. No, I truly feel, although I could be wrong, that such decisions are honest attempts to keep it civilized and avoid it degenerating to a
name calling match, however it sometimes comes at a price, because it sometimes shuts out important aditional information from being added.
I’m curious to see how you all feel about this. I am not interested in debating on this thread about if god exists or not, or if science or
creationism is supreme, so if you are thinking about posting something like that here, don’t waste your time, besides there are plenty of threads on
the subject already going. I want to know if anyone else has experienced what they felt was censorship? Also would be interesting to hear from the
moderators as well as to how such decisions are made and what they do to try and remain objective and prevent their own biases to crop into the
decision making process of whether a thread should be closed or not. Maybe this isn’t that big of an issue? I don’t know, but I do know I have
experienced it twice in two days, and it’s not congruent with my previous experiences on here or what I have believed the site to be all
about…that is the free flow of ideas and topic discussions.
Here's another poster who apparently shares my views on the matter, and his thread was shut down even before the first reply!
Yikes what is going on here???
*not sure where this should be so feel free to move it where you think would be most appropriate*
[edit on 9-6-2008 by skyshow]