I've just spent an hour or so reading only two blogs which are on my regular list of blogs I read, and 90 percent of what I read was abusive, obscene, insulting, and a waste of time. What's making people so testy lately? Is it the hot weather, or is it the seeming crescendo of crazy out there in the 'real world'?
Something seems to be going on.
Now, every blogger has to make a decision as to where to draw the lines. Some bloggers believe in essentially allowing everything, while others use a heavy hand in moderating and in censoring posts or hitting the 'delete' or 'ban' button.
There's got to be a happy medium between shutting down discussion and allowing a free-for all.
I won't name the blogs I am thinking of here. That would be counterproductive in that it might cause bad feeling or more division on our side. But my readers can probably guess which blogs I refer to.
Much as I like the idea of free speech, too much of it can be a bad
thing. "Free speech" is like fire; it has to be wielded with care.
I'm mindful that there are, according to some articles I've read, paid operatives who visit dissident blogs and purposely sow dissension, fear, disinformation, or just stir things up for the sake of it. It's often hard to tell who is doing what. Much of it may be just plain old 'meanness' and human contrariness.
There are people who take a perverse thrill in stirring up hornet's nests, and watching the 'fun' when everybody is at each other's throats, and the good people just walk away in disgust.
So for a blogger, it's a delicate
balance between allowing free speech (which for me, means a free
exchange of ideas and thoughts) and allowing anybody to say just
anything on any subject in any way they choose.
But I hope my fellow bloggers will take into consideration the harm done to the discourse at your blogs, and sometimes to other blogs, as the rancor spills over. I really dislike the claim that we need to tone our self-expression down so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of the 'unawakened' people who may happen by, or the people who are mortified by strongly-expressed opinions. But for our own sakes, for the sake of being productive in our conversations, we really need to weed out the comments that provoke flame-fests, thus driving away the people who don't want to join into a free-for-all with no holds barred. Nothing is lost, usually, by deleting the offending comments, but leaving such comments to stand, letting them and their authors come to dominate a blog's discussion, is really destructive. It's discouraging to bystanders and many lurkers. It gives the same impression of a blog as that which one gets from seeing a building which has been vandalized and graffitied, and left neglected by its owner. The old 'Broken Windows' analogy.
The bad drives out the good, if left to do so.
Free speech has to be accompanied by responsibility. I'd like to see responsible free speech proliferate, and the bile-filled, malicious, obscene railing disappear. It's a waste of everyone's time and as our right to free speech is always under siege, we should value it and use it as wisely as we can, while we have it.