Thursday, May 2, 2013

Comment Censorship

by M. J. Joachim

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while I get drawn into a comment conversation on a blog. It can be mine or anyone else’s. The topic is hot, politically charged and opinions (complete with emotions) are clearly expressed. When this happens on my own blogs, as long as the conversation remains civil, I let everyone say what they will, thank them for engaging in the discussion and let visitors make up their own minds.

As you know, I don’t pre-approve comments or anything like that. If someone spams me, I’ll delete it. The rest of you are welcome to express yourself on my blogs, as long as you’re above board and not degrading to my work, me or others here. You don’t even have to like my work. Simply put, hate, slander and garbage will be deleted. It’s offensive regardless of who or what it’s directed toward.

Yesterday, I engaged in a conversation on someone’s blog about gun control. My first comment was fairly open ended. The reply to it confused my meaning and beliefs. So I politely clarified in a second comment. Comments have to be approved before being published. Since that time, several comments from other people have been approved. All are in agreement with the blog owner, and all replies to them are flattering and of a collective mind-set – all except my comment which clarifies the meaning of my first comment and doesn’t appear to agree with the political position expressed in the blog post.

I’m being patient and checking back regularly to see if my comments are being censored. More importantly, I’m curious to see if commenting on this blog puts me in a position of furthering someone’s agenda of fighting for beliefs I clearly don’t agree with. My initial comment in conjunction with blog owner’s reply clearly twists my meaning, which could ultimately leads toward people thinking I stand behind something I clearly don’t agree with, as clarified by my second comment which has not been published.

The way I see it, I have no choice but to delete my first comment, if my second comment remains censored. Unfortunately, this experience will likely prevent me from further commenting on this person’s blog and perhaps some other blogs too. I don’t want to become cynical or anything, but I don’t want my words and meanings twisted and used against me like this either.

My writing tip for you today is simple. If you don’t want to be open to all opinions when you publically publish your blog, don’t invite all opinions to be expressed on it. If you do invite all opinions, be sure you accept them for what they are and allow everyone to take the stand they feel and believe is appropriate to the issues and opinions you express on your blog. Whatever you do, don’t twist someone’s meaning, using their name to further your own agenda.

Gun Control is a topic better suited for Effectively Human. I haven’t written the post yet. It’s moved up on my priority list because of this experience. All comments and viewpoints will be welcome, provided they are civil and show respect for anyone and everyone who visits, regardless of whether or not they agree with me.

How would you handle being censored in a divisive issue, where your opinion clearly differs from the one expressed in the article and other comments published? 

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips.

M. J.

Photo credit:  Library of Congress, Public Domain
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