Round 2: skeptic1 vs Heike: *******?

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posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 04:57 PM
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The topic for this debate is "Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On The Internet."

skeptic1 will be arguing the pro position and will open the debate.
Heike will argue the con position.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

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posted on Mar, 9 2009 @ 07:00 AM
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Thank you to MemoryShock for such an interesting topic. Thank you to the readers and judges and especially to my opponent. This should be a good one....

 


"Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On The Internet."

Of course it is.

First off, let's define "censor":

verb
1. forbid the public distribution of [syn: ban]
2. subject to political, religious, or moral censorship
[1]

And, "censorship" (for this debate):

noun
1. the act, process, or practice of censoring.
[2]

This debate is not about censoring the internet as a whole. This debate is about the censoring or banning of certain topics to facilitate more effective and efficient communication on privately owned websites.

While I am not for censorship under normal circumstances, I can see the benefits of censoring certain topics by private websites.

Some will bring up the fact that censorship of topics on websites infringes on one's right to free speech. Well, let's define Freedom of Speech:

–noun
1. the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.
2. the right to speak without censorship or restraint by the government. Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution
[3]

Well, as we can see, free speech is protected from censorship by the government. Privately owned websites can censor to their heart's content. It is their right. They own the site. They make the rules. And, members, users, and/or participants on these websites have to follow those rules. Most privately owned websites make members agree to a set of rules before even signing up.

If they don't like rules after the fact, let them find somewhere else on the Web to play.

So, why is censorship necessary for effective and efficient communication on the internet?

Website Focus

Most privately owned websites focus on certain topics.....entertainment, conspiracies, people, places, religion, etc. Censorship is necessary to keep the focus of the website where it belongs. It is perfectly fine for a religious website to censor topics that they don't want on their website. It is perfectly fine for a conspiracy website to ban topics that have no conspiratorial aspect.

It is a privately owned website. It is their right. And, it is necessary in order to keep the topics in line with the focus of the website, hence facilitating effective and efficient communication flowing.

Offensive Content

Privately owned websites have a responsibility to protect its membership from offensive content. A website that focuses on discussion of popular television shows does not need to allow sex videos to be posted simply because someone sees them as "on topic" since they are on film. A website that focuses on discussion of the positive aspects of Catholicism does not need to allow discussion of abortion and pictures of aborted fetuses simply because someone opposes the Church's stance on abortion and wants to add "shock" value to the website.

It is a privately owned website. It is their right. They can ban offensive content to keep the focus on the primary topics of the website and protect their members from what they view as offensive. This keeps the communication flowing efficiently without the disruption of offensive material.

Owner and Member Protection

Privately owned websites need to protect themselves. Some also want to protect their members. This is especially true as it pertains to discussion of illegal activity. Website owners can ban topics that would put them in a sticky legal position of being seen as promoting and facilitating discussion of illegal activities. They can also ban topics that would put their members in a position of admitting the participation in or committion of illegal activities. A conspiracy website does not need to allow members to post about their personal drug use. An education website does not need to allow discussion about bringing weapons to school.

It is a privately owned website. It is their right. Those activities are illegal and could get both the owners and members in some very hot water with the law if they are allowed to be discussed freely and openly. This keeps the communication flowing efficiently without the fear of legal incrimination.

There is no reason why a private website should not be allowed to censor whatever topics they wish to censor. These websites are not public forums where anything goes. People participating in these websites are not protected by the First Amendment; they aren’t being censored by the government, nor are the topics. This is not a free speech issue.

These are privately owned websites with their own rules, their own needs, and their own focus. They make the rules and allow people to participate as long as they adhere to said rules and keep to the topic of the website.

If people want to discuss other things, then let them find another privately owned website that focuses on the things they want to talk about.

Socratic Questions

1. What reasons are there for forbidding privately owned websites from censoring certain topics?
2. Should privately owned websites be forced to allow discussion of any and all topics in the name of banning censorship?
3. Is censorship on privately owned websites inherently bad?



posted on Mar, 9 2009 @ 08:37 PM
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Before we begin, I must express my gratitude to my opponent and friend, Skeptic1 (who has promised to keep Sally out of this), our overworked and underappreciated tournament hosts, MemoryShock and Semperfortis, and our volunteer judges and readers. Thank you, all of you.

 



Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On The Internet.

Since Skeptic1 has graciously saved us some time and character count by defining censorship and freedom of speech, we can move right along to the internet. What, exactly, is the internet? I know that a lot of people don’t actually understand the concept when I get questions like “Do you have the internet on your computer?”

Let’s throw out a couple of “official” definitions so that you all know I’m not making it up as I go along:


Today, the Internet is a public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility accessible to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Physically, the Internet uses a portion of the total resources of the currently existing public telecommunication networks.
[1]


Today, the "Net" is the world's largest source of information on every subject known to humankind and the world's largest mail-order catalog. By 2005, the Internet surpassed one billion users.

[2]

Wow! Over a billion users and the world’s largest source of information running at least partly on public telecommunication networks - and my opponent wants to censor it?

Don’t we have enough censorship already? Aren’t there already too many secrets and cover-ups and taboo topics?

The internet is truly an amazing tool. I knew within minutes when there was violent rioting in the streets of a town in South Africa because a forum buddy of mine posted about it as it was happening outside his _ I can tell the world about what’s happening to me, or with me, and anyone anywhere in the world who has internet access can know about it in minutes. Like any human tool, it can be abused, but that’s not reason enough to censor it.

My freedom of speech ends where your safety begins; it’s the old “you can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater” thing. But how many people will get up and run if I type “FIRE!” into a chat room? Perhaps some people are even now stockpiling supplies for the coming end of the world that they learned about on the internet, but is it any different from people standing on street corners with signs? We all know by now that many of the people who put information on the internet are just ordinary people like you and me, and our own judgment is required to determine what is good information and what is bad. Does the government - or anyone - need to make those decisions for us? I don’t think so.

The internet is sort of like a giant town meeting, or the old general store where people met to talk about stuff. Anyone can talk about anything they want to talk about, and those who aren’t interested in that topic can leave or join a different conversation. Do we want the government, or some official organization, coming in and telling us what we can or can’t talk about?

If you are a guest in my house, or a customer in my store, I can reasonably tell you that I won’t tolerate offensive language or certain topics of conversation. My place, my rules. If you don’t like it, leave. But out on the street, or in a public area, do I have the same right? No. I have the right to walk away, or to disagree with you, but I don’t have the right to tell you that you can’t talk about “that”, whatever “that” may be, in a public place.

The internet, as a whole, is a public place. If you are reading this, your computer is part of the internet. You may have a firewall or other security measures to prevent me from looking at your computer, but you could just as easily let me in, if you wanted to, and have a domain and a website that you want people to look at. Should anyone have a right to tell you what you can or can’t say on your website, on your computer, just because it’s connected to the internet? I say, if it’s not against the law (such as child pornography), they shouldn’t.

Consider again, please, our debate topic. It doesn’t say “Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On Privately Owned Websites.” It says “Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On The Internet.”
The Internet. The whole thing. Not just private websites.

If you have a website on your computer, and you’re paying for the domain, the bandwidth, the storage space, and the ISP, you are certainly allowed to control what people can’t or can’t talk about on your website, especially if you post the rules up front. You’re the boss, it’s your computer - censor and delete to your heart’s content. If you censor too much, the people will simply go somewhere else. But that isn’t the issue here. The issue is whether or not the INTERNET - including your website on your computer - should be restricted from discussion of certain topics. The issue is whether the government - or some oversight agency - should be able to shut down your website on your computer if you are presenting information or discussing topics they don’t approve of.

Furthermore, “efficient communication on the internet” includes email. That’s right. Your email. The government and the post office aren’t able to censor your regular mail. You can write anything you want in a letter and mail it; if it isn’t a crime (like extortion or fraud), there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Shouldn’t email be like that, too? Sure, there are hackers and people out there who can read your emails, but it isn’t any easier than stealing your letters out of your mailbox and reading them. So, you tell me - do you want your email to be censored? Do you want to have your ISP be able to “shut you down” if the content of a personal email message is something they don’t like? I hope not - I certainly don’t.

My opponent’s Socratic Questions:


1. What reasons are there for forbidding privately owned websites from censoring certain topics?


None. Their house, their rules.


2. Should privately owned websites be forced to allow discussion of any and all topics in the name of banning censorship?


No. Their house, their rules.


3. Is censorship on privately owned websites inherently bad?


No.

Socratic Questions to my opponent:

1. Please briefly explain your understanding of “the internet.”

2. You said “This debate is not about censoring the internet as a whole.” Please share with us your basis for claiming this.

3. Who do you think should decide what topics we can or can’t discuss on the “public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility” called the internet?



posted on Mar, 9 2009 @ 10:52 PM
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I will first address my opponent's Socratic Questions....



1. Please briefly explain your understanding of “the internet.”


Well, my understanding of the internet is that it is the place I go on my computer when I click on the Internet Explorer icon on my desktop.

On a more serious note, the internet is the world.....on a computer. I can visit anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse. I can shop at almost any store with the click of a mouse. I can connect with almost any nationality of people with the click of a mouse. I can get information on almost anything with the click of a mouse. The world is basically at my finger-tips....with the click of a mouse.

I can visit forums, private websites, governments, chat groups, personal information, etc., whenever I want.....any time of the day or night.



2. You said “This debate is not about censoring the internet as a whole.” Please share with us your basis for claiming this.


The internet, as a whole, is made up of websites. Those websites are generally owned and operated by and private entities, companies, and people. We may send information via public telecommunication lines on the internet, but we are communicating mainly on privately owned websites. Therefore, efficient and effective communication takes place mainly on private sites. Those sites have the right to censor or ban any topic they wish.

The internet may be available to everyone with the click of a mouse, but the websites on the internet are owned by someone. And, if they are private sites, they can be censored.



3. Who do you think should decide what topics we can or can’t discuss on the “public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility” called the internet?


Well, since the internet is made up of privately owned websites, I think that the owners of said websites should decide what topics we can or can't discuss on their "privately owned" websites.

And, you agreed. Your words and answers to my Socratic questions:


1. What reasons are there for forbidding privately owned websites from censoring certain topics?

None. Their house, their rules.



2. Should privately owned websites be forced to allow discussion of any and all topics in the name of banning censorship?

No. Their house, their rules.



3. Is censorship on privately owned websites inherently bad?

No.


And, with those answers and the topic, I could say that you agreed with my points and proved my side of the debate.

But, more information and more debate never hurt anyone.

 

My opponent states:


The internet is sort of like a giant town meeting, or the old general store where people met to talk about stuff. Anyone can talk about anything they want to talk about, and those who aren’t interested in that topic can leave or join a different conversation. Do we want the government, or some official organization, coming in and telling us what we can or can’t talk about?


On this point, we agree. Anyone can talk about anything they want....and if they aren't interested, they can leave. On a private website, they can talk about what they are allowed to talk about.....or leave.

Like you said, a private website's owners can censor whatever topics they want to censor. Their house, their rules.

The government isn't censoring a private website. An official organization isn't censoring a private website. The owners are censoring the site they own. That is their right and privilege.

And, we, as members and users of their websites have to follow their rules or we can leave and go somewhere else to join another conversation.

My opponent states:


If you are a guest in my house, or a customer in my store, I can reasonably tell you that I won’t tolerate offensive language or certain topics of conversation. My place, my rules. If you don’t like it, leave. But out on the street, or in a public area, do I have the same right? No. I have the right to walk way, or to disagree with you, but I don’t have the right to tell you that you can’t talk about “that”, whatever “that” may be, in a public place.


That's just it.....as members and users of private websites, we are guests in someone else's house or customers in someone else's store. Therefore, we have to follow the owner's rules. If we don't like it, we leave.

If those rules state that we cannot talk about certain subjects, then we can't talk about certain subjects.

Private websites do not constitute as public places.....even on the internet.

My opponent states:


The issue is whether the government - or some oversight agency - should be able to shut down your website on your computer if you are presenting information or discussing topics they don’t approve of.


No, it isn't.

This is not about the government. At this point in time, they do not own the all of the websites where communication takes place. They do not get a say in what is included on private domains. They do not set the rules for privately owned websites. They do not set conditions for website focus and the communication of topics related to that focus.

This is not about oversight agencies.

This is not about free speech or the First Amendment.

This is about private websites and their owners being able to censor certain topics that are discussed on their websites, which are privately owned. Freedom of Speech is not a right granted in private areas owned by private parties.

The public cannot say whatever they want in privately owned places.....even on the internet.

As far as e-mail is concerned....well, that's not privately owned. You own your e-mail. You are responsible for its content. If you don't censor yourself and say things you shouldn't......don't be surprised if it comes back to bite you someday. In this day and age, in the environment the world is in now, if you don't think someone is monitoring your e-mail, then you've been living under a rock. You are sending it over "public" telecommunication lines, so it is all basically public information.

Whether you censor yourself is up to you.....no one else. It is called personal responsibility.

Like I said, I don't believe in government censorship of the entire internet. But, this debate is not about the entire internet. The entire internet is made up of websites owned and operated by someone. And, it is not about government censorship. It is about the censoring of topics on privately owned websites to facilitate effective and efficient communication.

Private websites with members have "Terms and Conditions of Use". These are the rules people have to follow if they want to use or become a member of that private website. Those T&Cs outline what is allowed and what is not allowed.

Just because a person doesn't agree with those T&Cs does not mean that they can come on the site and disrupt the flow of communication on that private website.

Private websites have a focus; this is the area of communication and information that the website is about. Owners can censor topics that are disruptive to efficient and effective communication on that focus.

Private websites don't have to allow offensive material on their sites. This disrupts the efficient and effective flow of communication and can be censored whether people like it or not.

Private websites have an obligation to protect themselves and at times, their members. That means if they don't want illegal activities discussed on their sites, then it isn't discussed and is censored or banned.

If people don't like the censorship or banning of topics on private websites, then locate a "Wild West" public site where anything goes and play there. Leave the private websites, which have rules, to the people that don't have a problem with them.

Socratic Questions

1. Can the internet really be considered “public” when it is made up of “privately” owned domains and websites?
2. If people don't like the censoring of topics on private websites, should they be allowed to disrupt the flow of communication in the name of "Free Speech"?
3. Is efficient and effective communication on private websites hindered by censorship or banning of certain topics that do not relate to the focus of said website?
4. Are privately owned websites required to recognize and honor everyone's First Amendment rights with no regard to their own interests?



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 01:30 PM
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First, my opponent’s Socratic Questions:


1. Can the internet really be considered “public” when it is made up of “privately” owned domains and websites?


It isn’t entirely, or even mostly, made up of privately owned domains and websites. Libraries, universities, schools, government agencies, political parties, chambers of commerce, national and state parks, television stations, radio stations, magazines, newspapers (and etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum) have websites. Furthermore,


Electronic mail is the most widely used application on the Net.

[1]

Individual websites may be privately owned, but the internet as a whole is a public venue.


2. If people don't like the censoring of topics on private websites, should they be allowed to disrupt the flow of communication in the name of "Free Speech"?


No. Not on a private website owned by someone else. However, they should be able to discuss any topic they wish on public websites, their own website or in their personal email communications.


3. Is efficient and effective communication on private websites hindered by censorship or banning of certain topics that do not relate to the focus of said website?


Not always. But then, who is to decide what is effective and efficient? Efficiency is “productivity without waste.” One man’s waste is another’s treasure, to paraphrase an old adage. Much depends on the purpose of it and how it’s done. In fact, I’ll explain later that what you’re talking about doesn’t really even qualify as being “censorship.”


4. Are privately owned websites required to recognize and honor everyone's First Amendment rights with no regard to their own interests?


No.

 



This is not about the government. At this point in time, they do not own the all of the websites where communication takes place. They do not get a say in what is included on private domains. They do not set the rules for privately owned websites. They do not set conditions for website focus and the communication of topics related to that focus.


The most important words in that paragraph are “at this point in time.” At this point in time, most of the internet is free of overt governmental censorship. I say most, because not all of it is. In Australia, for example, the internet IS censored by the government.

Some years ago my husband and I bred and showed English Budgerigars, a variation on the common parakeet. Although called “English” budgies, they are a modification of Australian stock - as are all grass parakeets - and Australia has many budgie breeders. An email list I belonged to had members in Australia. During the course of a genetics discussion among breeders on the list, I referred to one of my male birds as the “cock,” which is the correct term. It was, however, flagged by Australian internet censorship and I was subsequently banned from sending email to anyone in Australia because of my use of “profanity” in an email message. It took quite a while for this issue to be straightened out, and although it eventually was, it is an instructive example of true internet censorship and how easily it goes horribly wrong.

We have also seen the growing trend towards ISP censorship, which restricts the (paying!!) user’s access to certain websites or certain parts of the internet. For example, some British ISP’s block access to certain websites, and American ISPs are taking steps towards becoming the Internet police for economical reasons – they want to block access to P2P and other file sharing sites to prevent copying and sharing of copyrighted music and video files. Just last year, Wikipedia was reported to the FBI for “erotic” content of an album cover, and reportedly 95% of British ISP’s blocked access to Wikipedia due to IWF rules.

Yes, internet censorship IS about the government, and political groups or parties, and conservative religious groups, and intelligence agencies, and organizations like the Internet Watch Foundation, and other “watchdogs” trying to censor the internet as a whole!

By my opponent’s own definition of censorship as presented in her opening post,


verb
1. forbid the public distribution of [syn: ban]
2. subject to political, religious, or moral censorship


What she’s talking about doesn’t even qualify as censorship!

Suppose I have a mail-order business selling maternity clothing. In order to attract customers to my site, I’ve set up free “public” (as in, no purchase or membership required) forums for pregnancy and nursing mother support. When someone starts a thread about how to reduce your electric bill by using DIY solar panels, and I shut it down, is that censorship? Is it? If the venue were anything other than a website forum, we’d know the answer.

Suppose I am the facilitator of a therapy group for rape victims, and a woman comes in and starts talking about the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. When I ask her to either talk about something relevant to rape recovery or leave, is that censorship? No. I’m not trying to “ban” the topic, or judge it on political, moral, or religious grounds. It’s simply not appropriate here and now.

Suppose I own and publish a magazine of home decorating ideas. When I refuse to publish an article about the latest Roswell saucer crash witness coming forward, is that censorship? No. The article simply isn’t appropriate for my magazine. I’m not trying to keep the topic from the public, or prevent it from being discussed, I’m just not going to print it in MY magazine.

So, back to the first example of the maternity website forum. Is it censorship? No. It’s just maintaining the purpose and focus of the website and keeping out “spam” in the sense of irrelevant off-topic material.

Now suppose I own a website dedicated to the discussion and exploration of Chemtrails, and along comes some foreign meteorologist who makes a lengthy and informed post about how Chemtrails don’t really exist, they’re just condensation trails. If I delete or shut down that thread, is it censorship? Yes, and any educated adult with an IQ above drooling knows that it is censorship, and immediately understands how it is different from the previous examples. In this case I AM trying to prevent the discussion or public distribution of opposing viewpoints, and doing so will stifle and prevent efficient or effective communication, not allow it. What kind of reasonable communication and discussion can there be if only one viewpoint is allowed to be presented?

Internet censorship is not about a few private websites staying on track and focused on their subject or area of interest. It’s about the real and wannabe “Powers That Be,” whether economic, governmental, ideological, or religious, trying to limit what you and I are allowed to see, know about, or be exposed to. It’s about the fact that what’s really going on in the world isn’t as easy to hide now that people thousands of miles apart can instantly talk to each other. It’s about keeping us – you and me, and everyone else – under control and under the proverbial thumb.

My opponent also seems to be making the assumption that no privately owned venue has any responsibility to uphold freedom of speech. Yet, aren’t newspapers, CNN, news magazines, and other informational media privately owned? Yes, they are, but we expect them to honor freedom of speech, don’t we? Why is the owner of a “public information” website any less responsible to avoid censorship than the owner of a newspaper?

Yes, we do know that our “MSM” (as we not-so-lovingly call it on ATS) does practice censorship, but we call that “yellow journalism” and other negative things and are generally against it. What sense does it make to be opposed to censorship when practiced by privately owned newspapers, magazines, and TV news, but in favor of censorship when it’s being practiced by a privately owned website which claims to provide public information?

No matter how wide your buttocks may be, you still can’t sit on both sides of the fence.
 

Socratic Questions for my opponent:

1. Is nytimes.com a “privately owned” website?

2. Is censorship of topics acceptable on nytimes.com?

3. Is it all right with you if your ISP decides what portions of the internet you may visit?

4. How can an automated censorship program determine the difference between me mentioning my pal Richard who goes by Dick, and the use of that word as an offensive slang term for a portion of the male anatomy?

5. Whose responsibility is it to protect children from offensive content, the parents’ or everyone else’s?



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 02:16 PM
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I will address my opponent's Socratic Questions first....



1. Is nytimes.com a “privately owned” website?


Yes. It is owned by The New York Times Company.


The New York Times Company, a leading media company with 2008 revenues of $2.9 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 16 other daily newspapers, WQXR-FM and more than 50 Web sites, including NYTimes.com, Boston.com and About.com. The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.
[1]

This is a publically traded company, run and directed by company executives and a Board of Directors. It is owned by its stockholders. Those stockholders determine the direction the company takes.

Just because nytimes.com is owned by a publically traded company does not make the website a "public" website open to anything and everything.

Like any other privately owned and operated website, they have T&Cs that people accessing and using their website have to adhere to.



2. Is censorship of topics acceptable on nytimes.com?


Of course it is. If they don't want to run sex-seeking ads on their site, they don't have to. If they don't want to post graphic videos on their site, they don't have to. If they don't want members of their site discussing illegal activities, they can say "don't do it" and remove said material.

Private company, private website. Their house, their rules.



3. Is it all right with you if your ISP decides what portions of the internet you may visit?


Is my ISP provider a privately owned company like AT&T (which it is now)? Yes, it is. I agree to their T&Cs when I sign up for service with them. If I disagreed with them, then I would find another service provider.

Private company. Their lines, their service, their rules.



4. How can an automated censorship program determine the difference between me mentioning my pal Richard who goes by Dick, and the use of that word as an offensive slang term for a portion of the male anatomy?


It can't. And, it shouldn't. If you can't use a little common sense, if other members/users on a website with automated censorship programs cannot use a little common sense when they see or realize that said program is in place, that is your problem.

If you see that it removes the word or *snips* the word, then use his given name, not what he goes by.

Private websites owned by private people or companies. Their house, their rules.



5. Whose responsibility is it to protect children from offensive content, the parents’ or everyone else’s?


The parents', of course. To use your words, any educated adult with an IQ above drooling knows that.

But, private website owners, whether they be company or person, have the right to protect themselves and their members....if they choose to do so. They can protect themselves and their members from self-incrimination, libel, slander, offensive material, etc.

Private website. Their house, their rules.

 




We have also seen the growing trend towards ISP censorship, which restricts the (paying!!) user’s access to certain websites or certain parts of the internet. For example, some British ISP’s block access to certain websites, and American ISPs are taking steps towards becoming the Internet police for economical reasons – they want to block access to P2P and other file sharing sites to prevent copying and sharing of copyrighted music and video files.


Guess what? If an ISP is owned by a private entity, they can restrict where their users go on the internet. I am sure that is spelled out in their T&Cs.....which the user had to agree to when signing up for said service.

If they didn't like it, they could have gone somewhere else and got service from another ISP provider. There is still such a thing as free choice and personal responsibility.

As for blocking access to P2P and other file sharing sites.....a lot of what those sites do is illegal. And, since the ISPs are privately owned, they are allowed to protect themselves from the potential illegal activity of their users.

My opponent brought up the definition of censor again....



verb
1. forbid the public distribution of [syn: ban]
2. subject to political, religious, or moral censorship


And says what I am arguing doesn't even qualify as censorship.

Does anyone else see that censor has 2 definitions?? My opponent is referring to the second....I am referring to the first: forbidding the public distribution of (banning).

All censorship is not due to governmental, religious, or moral interference.



Suppose I have a mail-order business selling maternity clothing. In order to attract customers to my site, I’ve set up free “public” (as in, no purchase or membership required) forums for pregnancy and nursing mother support. When someone starts a thread about how to reduce your electric bill by using DIY solar panels, and I shut it down, is that censorship? Is it? If the venue were anything other than a website forum, we’d know the answer.



Yes, it is censorship. You are forbidding the distribution of that information....banning the discussion. By the very definition of censor, that is what you are doing.

And, the venue is a website....so, once again, the answer is yes, it is censorship. The same holds true for your other examples. Forbidding the distribution of information or banning discussions, whether or not they oppose the focus of your website, pose offensive material, subject you or your members to self-incrimination, libel, slander, or any other legal penalty, or oppose your point of view is censorship.

It is banning topics from being discussed.

It is forbidding the distribution of information.

It is, by its very definition, CENSORSHIP.

But, since you own the websites in your example.......that is your right. It is your right to keep the discussion of your site's members or users on the topics YOU see fit....not the topics THEY see fit.



My opponent also seems to be making the assumption that no privately owned venue has any responsibility to uphold freedom of speech. Yet, aren’t newspapers, CNN, news magazines, and other informational media privately owned? Yes, they are, but we expect them to honor freedom of speech, don’t we? Why is the owner of a “public information” website any less responsible to avoid censorship than the owner of a newspaper?


Yes, they are privately owned. They also tend to have websites. If people that use their websites post information that they do not want discussed on their websites.....they can remove it and ban said discussion.

Private websites. Their house, their rules.

This debate is not about the press. This debate is not about the media. This debate is about the internet. This debate is about censorship being needed to facilitate efficient and effective communication on websites on the internet.

And, if those websites are privately owned, they can censor to their heart's content to keep the communication on their sites efficient and effective.

Socratic Questions

1. If private websites banning the discussion of certain topics is not censorship (by its very definition), then what is it?
2. Is there a real, honest-to-goodness example of a "free and public" site on the internet, free from scrutiny, free from user information removal....free from censorship?



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 04:28 PM
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My opponent’s Socratic Questions:

1. If private websites banning the discussion of certain topics is not censorship (by its very definition), then what is it?


You said it yourself, so why ask me this? “keep(ing) the topics in line with the focus of the website.” Staying on-topic is not the same as censorship.


2. Is there a real, honest-to-goodness example of a "free and public" site on the internet, free from scrutiny, free from user information removal....free from censorship?


By your definition here, probably not. Certainly not “free from scrutiny” unless it requires a password to get to, which in that case it’s not really “free and public.” Actually, it’s sort of impossible to have a website that meets all of your requirements here.
 



If they don't want to run sex-seeking ads on their site, they don't have to. If they don't want to post graphic videos on their site, they don't have to. If they don't want members of their site discussing illegal activities, they can say "don't do it" and remove said material.


It is interesting to me how narrowly my opponent focused this. We are back to considering what really is censorship, and what kind of censorship we are talking about. She is quick to say that pornographic materials and discussion of illegal activities is acceptable censorship, but she doesn’t mention things such as a conservative paper refusing to print a study on the long-term success of gay marriages, or a “loyalist” paper refusing to print a story about the outrageous misconduct of a senator.


Is my ISP provider a privately owned company like AT&T (which it is now)? Yes, it is. I agree to their T&Cs when I sign up for service with them. If I disagreed with them, then I would find another service provider.


Nice sidestep on that one. ISP censorship is often conducted without the knowledge of the user, much less with their consent. I just dug up the AT&T Terms & Conditions and read them, and nowhere in there does it say anything about the company restricting your access to certain parts of the internet. Part of the outrage over this issue had to do with consumers not knowing that it was being done, so that rather negates the “I agreed to it” argument.


… website with automated censorship programs cannot use a little common sense when they see or realize that said program is in place, that is your problem. … If you see that it removes the word or *snips* the word, then use his given name


Apparently my opponent didn’t bother to read (or consider) my real-life example. I did not know that Australia’s “clean feed” objected to my use of the proper term for a male bird until the next time I attempted to send a message to my list and got a failure notice. Again, we are not just talking about websites! In fact, as I pointed out previously, the majority of internet usage is email.


If an ISP is owned by a private entity, they can restrict where their users go on the internet. I am sure that is spelled out in their T&Cs.....which the user had to agree to when signing up for said service.


Actually, no it’s not. It’s not in mine (Wildblue), and it’s not in AT&T’s. Let’s please not forget that this is a service I’m paying for. As a paying customer, I do have some rights. If I’m paying for “unrestricted” access to the internet, then that better be what I’m getting, or I’m going to have a problem. I actually find it highly unlikely that my opponent would be so blasé about this if it were actually happening to her. Especially if, say, AT&T decided that abovetopsecret.com is too subversive and denied access to it?


My opponent brought up the definition of censor again....


I sure did, and my opponent STILL doesn’t seem to get it!


I am referring to the first: forbidding the public distribution of (banning).


So was I. Perhaps we need to review the definition of “public.”


Of or pertaining to the people; belonging to the people; relating to, or affecting, a nation, state, or community; -- opposed to private; as, the public treasury.
-----
Open to the knowledge or view of all; general; common; notorious; as, public report; public scandal.
[1]

By deciding that solar panel installation is not an appropriate thread topic for my maternity support forum, I am not trying to prevent this knowledge from reaching the general public, the nation, or society as a whole. I merely don’t want it on my forum because it’s not relevant. I don’t care if the ladies who frequent my forum know about solar panels or not, but solar panels don’t have anything to do with the focus or purpose of my website, nor is that the type of information my “customers” come to my website for. I have not judged that this information should not be public knowledge and attempted to keep it from “belonging to the people,” I have merely said “please discuss it somewhere else.”

Although we have detoured slightly into the realm of censorship of profanity and obscenity, our debate statement clearly says “Censorship Of Some Topics,” not censorship of some words. Therefore, we are really debating the censorship of entire subjects, topics of discussion, not individual words that someone may find offensive.

The intent of censorship is a very important part of its true meaning. Inherent in the concept of censorship is the idea that the censor is trying to prevent anyone – and everyone – from having the censored information.

Let’s take a quick look at some deeper definitions of censorship:


Censorship is a word of many meanings. In its broadest sense it refers to suppression of information, ideas, or artistic expression by anyone



Censorship: supervision and control of the information and ideas circulated within a society.



technically censorship means the "The Removal of material from open access by government authority


[2]

Do you see the common thread here? Censorship is about keeping information out of circulation, about making it completely unavailable to society and preventing general public access to it. Censorship inherently implies that a judgment has been made that the topic is dangerous, offensive, immoral, contrary to the censor’s beliefs, etc. Irrelevant, off-topic, spam, and just plain dumb aren't usually reasons for "censorship."

There is a HUGE difference between trying to prevent a fact or theory from becoming common knowledge (censorship) and me deciding that something is not an appropriate topic for my forum. I am not trying to prevent the general public from having the knowledge, I simply want it to be discussed somewhere else. That’s not the same thing as trying to suppress information.


This debate is not about the press. This debate is not about the media.


That is a very shortsighted and narrow point of view. My husband never reads a newspaper and seldom watches the news on TV. Where does he get all of his information about “what’s going on in the world”? From www.cnn.com and www.nytimes.com and www.bbc.co.uk . That’s right, from privately owned websites. In my opening statement I showed you that “the internet … is the world's largest source of information.” Since the internet is replacing newspapers and radio and TV as a primary source of news and information, it is becoming part of the press, and part of the media. Why then should it not be held to the same standards as other media sources of information?

Here’s a fine example of Internet Censorship:


China blocks or filters Internet content relating to Tibetan independence, Taiwan independence, police brutality, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, freedom of speech, democracy, pornography, some international news sources (such as the VOA), certain religious movements (such as Falun Gong and the Roman Catholic Church), and many blogging websites.
[3]

The people of an entire country aren’t allowed to read about, learn, or understand the concepts of freedom of speech, or democracy. That’s real “Censorship Of Some Topics” on the internet, and there’s no way in the world it “Is Necessary For Efficient Communication.”



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 05:11 PM
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1. If private websites banning the discussion of certain topics is not censorship (by its very definition), then what is it?

You said it yourself, so why ask me this? “keep(ing) the topics in line with the focus of the website.” Staying on-topic is not the same as censorship.



I asked YOU because you clearly stated it was not censorship. I wanted to know your definition of "a private website banning the discussion of certain topics.

My definition calls that censorship.

If "ban" is a synonym (a word or expression accepted as another name for something [1] ) for "censorship" (referring to my definition of censor in my opening statement), then how is banning certain topics on private websites to "stay on-topic", keep the flow of conversation constant with the website's focus, prevent offensive material, and protect the owners and members not censorship?




2. Is there a real, honest-to-goodness example of a "free and public" site on the internet, free from scrutiny, free from user information removal....free from censorship?

By your definition here, probably not. Certainly not “free from scrutiny” unless it requires a password to get to, which in that case it’s not really “free and public.” Actually, it’s sort of impossible to have a website that meets all of your requirements here.



Exactly. Where the internet may run on "public" lines, we share information and communicate (sans e-mail) on mostly PRIVATE websites.

Free speech doesn't have to be taken into account in private areas. Even and especially the internet.

 


My opponent states:


We are back to considering what really is censorship, and what kind of censorship we are talking about.


We are talking about the banning of information on the internet, specifically websites on the internet.

My opponent brings up the examples of papers refusing to publish certain things that don't fit in with their ideology.

That is fine for another debate. This debate is not about the media.

This debate is about the internet. This debate is about the efficient and effective flow of communication on the internet. The internet is divided into websites. This debate concerns communication on websites.


ISP censorship is often conducted without the knowledge of the user, much less with their consent. I just dug up the AT&T Terms & Conditions and read them, and nowhere in there does it say anything about the company restricting your access to certain parts of the internet. Part of the outrage over this issue had to do with consumers not knowing that it was being done, so that rather negates the “I agreed to it” argument.


I have yet to find any website that I want or need to go to blocked by my ISP. Have you?

And, guess what one can do when they find out that their ISP is blocking certain websites? They can change providers.

Problem solved.

They are private companies and can do what they want to do.....whether their members/users like it or not. They can ban sites to their heart's content.


Apparently my opponent didn’t bother to read (or consider) my real-life example. I did not know that Australia’s “clean feed” objected to my use of the proper term for a male bird until the next time I attempted to send a message to my list and got a failure notice. Again, we are not just talking about websites! In fact, as I pointed out previously, the majority of internet usage is email.


No, I did not miss your "real life" example. I just don't see ignorance of the rules as a good reason to complain. Not everywhere has the same rules as the US, and if you are going to do business in another country over the internet, you need to make yourself aware of their rules about what you can and can't do in the process of communications over the internet.

Personal responsibility is pretty important. Just because you didn't bother to look into the rules, doesn't negate your responsibility.

And, now, my opponent brings up what exactly constitutes the public. Well, the public are people. People make up the public.

And, by "banning" (censoring) the talk of solar panels on your site to keep the topic on the focus of your site.......well, technically, you are keeping that information from the public. Obviously, not all the people wanting to partake in the discussion on your site are solely interested in pregnancy. One, at least, was interested in giving info on solar panels to the other people.

People = Public

By removing that information (which is your total right on YOUR private site), you censored that member of the public, hence keeping information from other members of the public.

Semantics can go both ways.

Censorship has one basic meaning: the act, process, or practice of censoring (from my opening)

Censor has 2 meanings (from my opening):

1. forbid the public distribution of [syn: ban]
2. subject to political, religious, or moral censorship

The reasons don't really matter when we get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter. If you do not allow discussion of certain topics on your website, you are censoring said topics.

You are banning said topics from being discussed by the public and with the public on your website.

Banning = Censorship


From www.cnn.com and www.nytimes.com and www.bbc.co.uk . That’s right, from privately owned websites. In my opening statement I showed you that “the internet … is the world's largest source of information.” Since the internet is replacing newspapers and radio and TV as a primary source of news and information, it is becoming part of the press, and part of the media. Why then should it not be held to the same standards as other media sources of information?


Yes, it is the world's largest source of information. And, for some, it may be replacing newspapers, radio, and TV as a primary source of information. But, until you can prove that the website is refusing to provide what the hardcopy paper contains, what the TV station is showing, and what the radio station is broadcasting (under the same name, minus the .com), then your argument holds no water.

These private websites can censor what members/users post on these sites. Just because they are media sites does not mean that they are obligated to carry every person who accesses that sites point of view.

Freedom of speech of the public does not have to be honored in private areas. Even the internet.

My opponent brings up China and their internet "censorship":


The people of an entire country aren’t allowed to read about, learn, or understand the concepts of freedom of speech, or democracy.


Last time I checked, China did not recognize free speech. When they do, then that argument can be brought up. They don't have a constitution that allows their public freedom of speech and expression. When they do, that argument can be brought up.

Once again, this debate is not about the media, the press, or communist societies that aren't free to begin with. This debate is about the need for the censorship of certain topics on the internet to facilitate efficient and effective communication.

The internet, while a public source for information, is separated into private websites with their own rules and regulations. If we want to communicate on those websites or via e-mail to other countries, other areas with different rules, then we have to abide by their rules.

If they don't want us to say certain words, we can't.
If they don't want us to talk about certain topics, we can't.
If we don't like it, we can go to another site.

Private websites can ban or censor whatever they want. And, they need to do so for effective and efficient communication, to prevent offensive material, to protect revenue, and to protect themselves and their members/users.



posted on Mar, 10 2009 @ 08:46 PM
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My definition calls that censorship.


There are a few basic ways to arrive at a usable definition of a word that has many definitions. One, my opponent’s choice, is to pick one of the definitions and decide that it is the one correct definition. The other is to look at all, or most of the definitions and find what they have in common. I have chosen the latter.

The synonyms for censorship include: control, forbidding, infringing on rights, iron curtain, suppression, and thought control. By adding those to the definitions provided in my last post, and others contained on various websites, I can arrive at a distillation, a synergistic understanding of what censorship means. Censorship is about attempting to control a people - a society, nation, or culture - by limiting their knowledge.

The very simplistic definition being used by my opponent has far too many applications to be effectively used here. A mother telling her child not to use “bad words” would be censorship. An AA group asking a man not to mention specific brands of whiskey would be censorship. A dieting woman who asks her friends not to talk about chocolate is practicing my opponent’s definition of censorship.

Censorship doesn’t mean “I don’t want you talk about this topic here, or now.” Censorship means “I don’t want people to even know this topic exists, so don’t discuss it here, there, or anywhere, ever!”

Comparing the deliberate and determined efforts of the Chinese government to prevent their citizens from even being aware of concepts such as free speech, democracy, or police brutality, or to have knowledge of the Tiananmen Square incident, to a website owner telling a wise guy not to post threads about natural male enhancement on a cryptozoology website is laughably ridiculous. The Chinese government is afraid of “freedom of speech.” They fear the consequences should their people learn about - and ultimately want - free speech. Censorship is about fear and control, and fear of losing control. Neither applies to website owners who simply want to keep their forums “on topic” and the discussions moving along with a minimum of strife, flaming, and random detours.


We are talking about the banning of information on the internet, specifically websites on the internet.


No, we are not. If I am a website owner, asking people to refrain from discussing a certain topic on my website does NOT equate to banning that information from the internet. That’s like saying that me asking you not to talk about your religion in my house is the same as prohibiting all mention of that religion everywhere, forever. They aren’t the same thing.


This debate is about the internet. This debate is about the efficient and effective flow of communication on the internet. The internet is divided into websites. This debate concerns communication on websites.


I don’t agree. That is an arbitrary narrowing of the topic designed to redefine it so that my opponent can win her argument. The internet is NOT just websites, and certainly not just private websites. In fact, many definitions of “the internet” specifically point out that the internet is NOT the World Wide Web, on which we find websites, and the WWW is NOT the internet.


Unlike many computer networks, the Internet consists of not one but multiple data systems that were developed independently. The most popular and important systems are: E-mail, USENET newsgroups, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Gopher, Telnet, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), Videoconferencing, and the World Wide Web.
[1]

Do you notice that the World Wide Web, the backbone upon which all websites reside, is the last item on the list? We simply can’t reasonably claim that private websites are the sum total, the majority, or even the most important part of the internet.


I have yet to find any website that I want or need to go to blocked by my ISP.


Well then, obviously that form of internet censorship is not necessary, since they aren’t doing it (yet) and we’re communicating just fine. A point for me!



Not everywhere has the same rules as the US, and if you are going to do business in another country over the internet, you need to make yourself aware of their rules


Excuse me, but that isn’t quite what happened. I belonged to an email list hosted on a server in America. Some individuals in Australia also happened to belong to the same list, and that is how the problem arose. Until the incident happened, I’m not sure most of us were even aware that those individuals were located in Australia. I wasn’t “trying to do business in another country.”


And, by "banning" (censoring) the talk of solar panels on your site to keep the topic on the focus of your site.......well, technically, you are keeping that information from the public.


No, I’m not. Asking a specific (and relatively small) segment of the public to refrain from discussing a certain topic on my website does not equate to withholding that information from the public. They have access to other websites on which they may freely learn about and discuss that topic, and I have no desire to prevent them from doing so.


The reasons don't really matter when we get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter. If you do not allow discussion of certain topics on your website, you are censoring said topics.


I disagree. Censorship is all about the reasons, as I’ve mentioned before. I am limiting the topics of discussion on the private site that I own, not banning those topics from the internet.


But, until you can prove that the website is refusing to provide what the hardcopy paper contains, what the TV station is showing, and what the radio station is broadcasting (under the same name, minus the .com), then your argument holds no water.


I don’t need to prove that censorship is occurring. That isn’t the debate topic. I only need to point out that censorship isn’t necessary in order for those websites to communicate “effectively and efficiently” with the public. And that, in fact, censorship tends to inhibit effective communications.


Last time I checked, China did not recognize free speech. When they do, then that argument can be brought up. They don't have a constitution that allows their public freedom of speech and expression.


And that has what to do with the price of tea in China? Or, more importantly, this debate? My opponent has repeatedly defined “censorship” without basing the definition on free speech or even mentioning free speech. Censorship, therefore, can and does exist independently of free speech. In fact, I submit that censorship is more prevalent in places that do not have freedom of speech! And the question, once again, is this: is censorship necessary for efficient communication? I say that it is not; I say that communication is improved by the absence of censorship.

Have you ever played that game where you try to get your partner to guess a word without being able to use one or more of the common words you would normally use to explain it? Tough, isn’t it? In the same way does censorship of topics interfere with communications on a broader scale. It’s much harder to discuss the election of the US President with someone if you can’t bring up the concept of democracy, for example.


If they don't want us to talk about certain topics, we can't.
If we don't like it, we can go to another site.


There you go. The information is available on other sites. It is, therefore, available on the internet. Thus, they have not censored (banned) it from the internet or prevented the public from having access to the information, they have only limited the discussions that may take place on their one website.


Private websites can ban or censor whatever they want. And, they need to do so for effective and efficient communication, to prevent offensive material, to protect revenue, and to protect themselves and their members/users.


So they can, and do, and perhaps it is necessary for some private websites to limit topics of discussion in order to avoid chaos, mayhem, and total disorder. However, private websites are not the internet, and the internet doesn’t need to have certain topics censored in order for people to be able to communicate with each other effectively or efficiently.

Socratic Questions:

1. Is communication between two people more, or less, effective if they are prohibited from mentioning certain concepts or subjects?

2. Is asking a person not to talk about a particular subject in a particular time or place the same as trying to prevent that person from having knowledge of that subject?

3. In your opinion, what is the purpose of censorship?

4. If, as you say, the internet can be divided up into nothing more than a bunch of private websites, then please explain the existence of email, newsgroups, chat rooms, instant messaging, p2p file transfer, and the other parts of the internet which are independent of the world wide web.



posted on Mar, 11 2009 @ 09:22 AM
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Before I close my side of this debate, I will address my opponent's Socratic Questions....



1. Is communication between two people more, or less, effective if they are prohibited from mentioning certain concepts or subjects?


It depends on what they are talking about and where they are talking about it.

If they have a topic they are discussing, if other topics are off the table, then communication is more effective and efficient if they stick to that topic.

That seems pretty obvious to me.



2. Is asking a person not to talk about a particular subject in a particular time or place the same as trying to prevent that person from having knowledge of that subject?


Of course it is not. But, this debate is not about keeping knowledge away from a person. It is about censorship on the internet....and that doesn't just include the broad stroke of "knowledge". It is information.....could be trivial, could be important.

You can try to broaden the definition all you want, but I am not going to shape my argument to shape your definition anymore than you are going to shape your argument to fit mine.



3. In your opinion, what is the purpose of censorship?


It can have many purposes depending on the situation. In the situation we are debating, the purpose of censorship of certain topics or the banning of discussion of certain topics has to do with facilitating effective and efficient communication on the internet.

Censorship or banning of certain topics does this by:


  1. Keeping the discussion and communication on the focus of the website
  2. Keeping offensive material off the website to keep communication flowing and effective
  3. Protecting the owners and members of the website from self-incrimination, libel, slander, discussion of illegal activity, etc.
  4. Preventing ISPs from facing criminal responsibility due to their user's actions (especially as it pertains to the downloading of copyrighted material, which is illegal)
  5. Keeping e-mail, which flow on public lines but are provided (for the most part) by private providers, open to all as long as the rules of the areas of the sender and receiver are followed


If the focus of a website is not stuck to, then the website suffers, as does it members. This hinders communication.

If offensive material is allowed simply to avoid censorship, then the website suffers, as does its members. This hinders communication.

If the owners of a website don't protect themselves and their members by preventing the discussion of illegal activities, then the website suffers, as can its members. This hinders communication.

If ISPs allow anyone to go anywhere and do anything just because they pay for the ISP service, then the potential is there for the ISP to be held responsible for the activities of its users (especially with file sharing of copyrighted materials). If the ISP is taken out of commission due to illegal activity, it suffers, as does its users. This really hinders communication.

If privately provided e-mail allows anyone to send anything to anyone anywhere, regardless of the rules of area where it is being sent or received, then that e-mail service can get shut down for breaking the rules or the sender/receiver can get cut off for breaking the rules. They suffer, we suffer, and this really hinders communication.



4. If, as you say, the internet can be divided up into nothing more than a bunch of private websites, then please explain the existence of email, newsgroups, chat rooms, instant messaging, p2p file transfer, and the other parts of the internet which are independent of the world wide web.


I have explained most of those in my above answer and my previous posts. But, whether you want to see it or not, chat rooms, IM, file transfers, and other parts of the internet are owned, operated, and provided by PRIVATE PARTIES. Those private parties can operate however they want....including the censoring or banning of topics to facilitate the flow of effective communication.

We had a recent example right here on ATS with their chat room. They banned a topic. Some idiots decided not to follow the rules. Chat was shut down for everyone.

I'd say that hindered communication a great deal.

Their site, their chat, their rules. Those rules weren't followed and guess what? Chat was shut down and in a way, an important means of communication was taken away.

If the rules had been followed, the censorship/banning of said topic respected and followed by certain members, then chat would still be open and efficient and effective communication would still be flowing freely.

See, censorship and banning of certain topics is necessary to facilitate efficient and effective flow of communication on the internet.

 


My opponent has tried to broaden the definitions of censor, censorship, the public, the internet, etc., through this debate. She has tried to broaden the scope of this debate to include the media, the press, and even communist countries that don't recognize free speech or expression at all.

That is not what this debate is about.

This debate is about:

"Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On The Internet"

Not censorship of all topics.
Not censorship in the press.
Not censorship in the media.
Not free speech and expression.
Not keeping knowledge from the public.
Not governmental censorship.
Not moral censorship.
Not religious censorship.

This debate is about the necessity of the censoring or banning of some topics on the internet in order to facilitate effective and efficient communication.

It is.

Yes, the internet is a great source of public knowledge. Anyone in the public with a connection can access the internet and the worlds of information it contains.

But, just because the public can access the internet does not make the internet a "public place".

ISPs are owned and operated by private entities.
E-mail is owned and provided by private entities.
Websites are owned and operated by private entities.
Chat rooms and IM are owned and provided by private entities.
File sharing websites are owned and operated by private entities.

If they are owned, operated, and provided by private entities, then those private entities have the right to censor or ban certain topics from being discussed. We, as users and members, have to agree to rules, regulations, and T&Cs to use their services, whether we pay for them or not.

Their houses, their rules. Those rules are there to protect the owners and the members/users. Those rules are there to facilitate communication. And, if those rules ban or censor certain topics, communication can be more effective for the owners and the members/users.

If we don't like those rules, we can find somewhere else to play.

The sites we communicate at on the internet or any of its parts and pieces are not public places. They are privately owned and operated and provided places. Free speech does not have to be recognized or upheld in private places....even the internet.

If people don't like that and insist on "denying censorship" and using the internet as a free-for-all place of discussion about anything, anywhere, at any time......see how long they are allowed to effectively and efficiently communicate on the internet.

.....Many thanks to my wonderful opponent, Heike, to the readers, to the debate moderators, and to the judges....



posted on Mar, 11 2009 @ 04:35 PM
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this debate is not about keeping knowledge away from a person. It is about censorship on the internet....and that doesn't just include the broad stroke of "knowledge". It is information.....could be trivial, could be important.


Censorship of the internet IS about keeping information and knowledge away from people. Just yesterday we cried “Censorship!” when Symantec software systematically deleted all reference to a little file named PIFTS from their forums, and then mention of that same file began disappearing from Google and Digg … That was an example of censorship, and it was about keeping knowledge away from people – all the people. And that fine example explains as well as I possibly could the difference between censorship and keeping forums focused and on-topic.

Yesterday they were censoring Pifts, and if you look at the ATS thread and follow a few of the links, you will see that their censorship led to everything BUT efficient communication. In fact, for most of the scared and frustrated people who were trying to figure out what to do, censorship resulted in complete lack of communication.

 


In Closing:

Language, like the people who speak it, is ever growing and ever changing. In the English language there are many words which have taken on a meaning and concept of their own which is greater than – and sometimes apart from – the original root word.

Such is the case with the word “censorship.” Its simplest and most basic meaning is “the act of censoring,” and censoring has a definition as simple as “to suppress or delete as objectionable.” But, in today’s world, censorship means much more than that.

This becomes obvious when we look at common answers to the question “What is censorship”?


Censorship is when government founded agencies control and monitor content on your T.V., radio and computer.
[1]

Censorship is when the government controls or limits what the media can portray to the public.
[2]

My opponent would like you to see “censorship” as the simplest of its possible meanings, and narrow the internet to a group of private websites who must be allowed to delete Spam, insults, totally off-topic remarks, and so on, in order to protect the integrity of discussion and prevent it from being derailed into mega flaming wars and chaos. Her reasonable words and logical arguments may have you nodding in agreement like a bobblehead “of course, she’s right, they need to be able to do that…”

Until, at some point, you find that you have agreed that Internet Censorship is Necessary, and you aren’t quite sure how you got there because you know that “Censorship” is more than deleting a few advertisements and profanity-laden rants, or refusing to allow discussion of topics that simply aren’t relevant to the site in question.

Our fellow ATS member VIPPER knows better:

Trying to censor any kind of information is the one single thing you must never ever do online, the only cardinal sin on the internet. Censorship online will ALWAYS backfire.
[3]

The Internet is much more than a few private websites. It is our meeting place, our community billboard, the place where messages we send out in virtual bottles actually get read and responded to. It is our e-mail, our telephones, our connection to each other all over the world, and increasingly our main source of information about what’s happening in the world.

We already know that the government, a fine collection of alphabet soup agencies (who like icebergs, reveal only the smallest tip of themselves), the politicians, the rich bankers, and the elite would like nothing better than to keep the public ignorant and quietly under control. We know that “they” are already doing this by censoring our sources of information. People are threatened and killed to keep their secrets, and the press and the media, if they actually manage to find out more than the public knows, are also pressured, bribed, or otherwise prevented from telling us, the public, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

One venue is left that they do not control entirely, simply because it is too cumbersome, too awkward, too huge, and comprised of too many small independent parts to be readily controlled: the internet. Make no mistake, it is next. They’re figuring it out.

Soon “they” may be able to literally control what parts of the internet you can access, who you can email or what can be said in your emails, and internet forums may be reduced to giving us only the same useless celebrity gossip, animal rescue stories, and updates on any natural disasters, catastrophic weather events, or spree shootings that may have taken place in the past few days that our TV news and newspapers dish out.

Am I just exaggerating and fearmongering? Making it up as I go along? No. It’s already happening, a bit here and a bit there. They try something, and if there’s too much public outcry they take it back, and work on a sneakier or less obtrusive way to accomplish the same end. Look around – over 30 countries now have some form of internet censorship, and the U.S. FCC and ISP’s are working on ways to monitor and control individual access.

THAT is internet censorship. Don’t let yourself be fooled into agreeing with it under the guise of “oh, we’re just deleting the spam to protect our members.” I personally am grateful that the forums I belong to have moderators who bring order out of the chaos and limit my exposure to idiots, stupidity, spam, and raving lunatics. But that is not censorship.

Censorship is never about protecting anyone, although that is the candy coating most often given to make it palatable. Censorship is about controlling people by controlling knowledge. Censorship is about power, and about fear of losing that power if the people you are controlling with it learn too much.

The internet is our biggest and best venue for actually communicating with each other and being able to tell the truth, sometimes with the protection of relative anonymity. Censorship will only hamper that communication, and it is NOT necessary.



posted on Mar, 22 2009 @ 12:11 AM
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The Judgments are in and Heike wins through majority decision. Heike will be advancing to the Third Round.



I judge these as I go. I do not read them, and then score them. I take it round by round, so here we go:

Round 1: Opening Statements
10-10 Tie
Perfect opening statements from both. I am leaning towards a side already, but I will reserve judgment until I hear the actual support from each fighter. I am interested in how skeptic1 will address Heike’s argument that the topic is about the entire Internet, and not just a website-by-website basis.

Round 2: Rebuttals
10-9 Heike

This is absolutely brutal to judge. I had to give it to Heike, only on the note that I agree with her what the topic is about. I think the topic is most certainly about censorship of the Internet, not about private websites. Skeptic1 will have to do some work to get me to change that view. Also, Heike, did a fantastic job supporting the argument (assuming she is correct that it is about the whole Internet).

Quote of the round:


Originally posted by Heike
The most important words in that paragraph are “at this point in time.” At this point in time, most of the internet is free of overt governmental censorship. I say most, because not all of it is. In Australia, for example, the internet IS censored by the government.


I also really enjoyed the argument about the difference between censorship and keeping things on topic: deleting something relevant and deleting a thread about Obama’s birth certificate in a rape therapy website.

Round 3: Rebuttals
10-9 Heike
I had to give this round to Heike. Two reasons:
1) I am still agreeing with Heike that this is about censorship of the Internet as a whole.
2) I disagree with skeptic1 completely that it is the ISP’s right to censor information. First, they have a monopoly of that area. I have two ISPs here: AT&T and TWC. If they both begin censoring information, I cannot go to a little c-lec in the area, as they use these mega-conglomerates lines, and would be subjected to the same rules.

Really, because of the total monopoly these communication companies have, there is no real agreeing to T&C’s. It is either have the internet, or do not have the internet. I could be wrong about this, but my impression has always been the c-lecs are basically at the mercy of the i-lec (they are, of course, leasing the lines to begin with).

Quote of the round:


Originally posted by Heike
I actually find it highly unlikely that my opponent would be so blasé about this if it were actually happening to her. Especially if, say, AT&T decided that abovetopsecret.com is too subversive and denied access to it?


Round 4: Rebuttals
10-9 Heike

Overall, whether or not it is censorship when websites filter off-topic material is interesting, but it is not on topic either. The real argument is whether or not we are focused on private websites, or the Internet as a whole. If you agree with the private websites only theory, then skeptic1 has this debate in the bag already. I do not agree with that, which is why Heike has the upper hand.

It would be interesting to see what the argument over the Internet as a whole would have been – whether it is okay for the government or ISP’s to filter information and sites based on what they find to be morally questionable.

Quote of the round:


Originally posted by Heike
Do you notice that the World Wide Web, the backbone upon which all websites reside, is the last item on the list? We simply can’t reasonably claim that private websites are the sum total, the majority, or even the most important part of the internet.


This almost proves without a shadow of doubt that e-mail, IRC networks,
USENET, FTP and anything “Online” would be subjected to the censorship.

Round 5: Closing Arguments
10-10 Tie.

Well summed up arguments. Neither fighter could have done better at closing and wrapping up. This brings the totals to:

Skeptic1: 47
Heike: 50

First perfect score I have given out, I think. Congratulations to Heike for the win (in my book, but there are other judges), and to both fighters for a well-fought debate. Skeptic1 clearly had the more difficult argument to make, and really put up a good fight, but Heike hit all of the correct talking points and made it near impossible for anyone to argue against.



"Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On The Internet."

This debate felt like a trick question.

First off, censoring a word in an email, is different than censoring a topic.

So Heike’s Australia example, while good in terms of general censorship, doesn’t work within the parameters of the debate question. The question also states SOME topics, but doesn’t specify which kind, only if it is necessary for efficient communication.

It also doesn’t ask if it is necessary for control of information by a third party. But doesn’t state by whom. So I feel the statement is wide open.
Skeptic1 kept the debate focused on websites, where most “topics” are discussed.

I think she was in a better position to hold firm with that description, but Heike brought up China and other forms of government which throws in a new element.

I had to determine for myself whether or not an email conversation is of a “topic”. I have never heard of a topic in an email being censored except for word content.

I had to determine for myself whether or not RESTRICTING by ISPs is censoring of a “topic”. An IP address is not a topic per se, but a site of topics. Something that should not be restricted by a third party, especially by a company that provides internet service, unless it was for safety reasons or at the customers request.

A topic can be defined as a resource though, so a pift file being denied to the public is a good example in my mind of censorship, although in that case it was a private company trying to deny the public of a resource. I believe that also falls under the their house, their rules argument except that it extended to search engines which does not. I believe restriction of search topics would not be necessary or efficient. Freedom of speech includes opinions that you can say without fear of being burned at the stake (albeit consequences), not commercial enterprise denying the public of information for their own gain. (although I am not sure what happened there, am guessing, and wasn’t supplied a link)
I believe skeptic1 showed completely that censoring of topics is necessary some of the time on privately owned websites. In this regard I would have to agree with that argument.

Heike took this a step further with government, or official censorship of topics. In this regard I cannot agree, because it is not necessary for efficiency, but for control.

I am left to decide if the debate question includes this type of control. If a government issued the statement "Censorship Of Some Topics Is Necessary For Efficient Communication On The Internet." I would raise hell with the rest of the them. In this case the “their house, their rules” does not apply, in my mind.

If the government began restricting and denying topics and/or resources like Symantec, there would be hell to pay.

Skeptic1 stressed that the debate was not about censoring the internet as a whole, while Heike stressed that it should and stated.”There is a HUGE difference between trying to prevent a fact or theory from becoming common knowledge (censorship) and me deciding that something is not an appropriate topic for my forum.”

A theory or fact can be considered a topic.

Here is where, after a fairly equal debate on both sides, I have to decide whether or not the question is asking this. If I found out that the government or another official agency was denying information on a cure for cancer, quite possibly natural, because it would make pharmaceutical companies have problems with “efficient communication” for their product on their private website then I would say it was not necessary.

It was a tough one...but I am going to give the nod to Heike.





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