Saturday, August 20, 2005

Flag?????????

Seems that Blogger has implemented a new "Flag?" reporting system whereby readers can mark/report blogs they consider objectionable. This is troubling in at least two very important ways related to the freedom of self-expression.

First, how does one define "objectionable" in the context of blog posts where opinions and thoughts and world views will range across the spectum? There's a lot out there that each one of us could consider objectionable to one degree or another. In the context of freedom of expression wouldn't it simply be easier not to read something "objectionable" rather than report it to the authorities?

As an example: I am an atheist. The closest thing I have to a "belief" system is an adoption of various, rational aspects of Buddhist philosophy. I grew up in a hardcore fundamentalist Christian home and long ago cast off these beliefs due to their (in Jeffersonian terms) "tyranny over the mind." What happens if I decided at some point to post on what I see as the singular deficiences of fundamentalist Christianity in a rational, Enlightened world. This would be my opinion, yet it would also be an opinion with a "high offense potential" to funadmentalist Christians. I could very well be flagged for this one time or many, yet it's still my own opinion. Should I not post on such a topic out of fear of offending others? Should I post and be potentially damned? Where does one draw the line on objectionableness?

On the self-regulation side of things, perhaps bloggers will be hesitant to post thoughts and opinions (whatever they may be) out of fear of being flagged. The concept of flagging is a slippery slope and the degree of self-regulation will probably depend on how quickly and the degree to which this form of censorship spirals out of control.

Much danger I see in this "flag?" business.

2 comments:

wanting said...

censorship is alive and well after all...I just didn't think people were that stupid...

Al S. E. said...

I am putting together a separate blog on this particular topic.