Katherine Viner has waded into fray, waving a battle standard, The Guardian, she says ultra-po-faced, admits to having a “problem with abuse”. She is lying. Their own shoddy statistical analysis says that 1 in 50 comments is removed, which means 98% of Guardian comments are non-abusive. That is no problem.
Of course that implies that every single moderated post on CiF is abusive, which is obviously not the case. That they moderate for opinion and content is well established. Check these moderated comments here, here and here. Just yesterday a reader sent us this comment, which was removed. Hell, we have a whole category devoted to Cif censorship. Do these posts seem “abusive” to you?
The Guardian claim that, of their top ten “abused” authors, 8 are women, 3 are gay and 6 are non-white. This statement, never backed up with evidence, is used by Viner to offer up “proof of what we have long suspected”….that CiF is a hot-bed of racism, homophobia and misogyny…in the 2% of comments that require moderation.
The article is long, rambling, hysterical and self congratulatory. Viner bleats like the sheep chorus from Animal Farm. Free speech baaaaaddddd, censors goooood. It’s thousands of words, and feels like tens of thousands. Ignore it all, the only important passage is this:
As editor, I think we need to act more decisively on what kind of material appears on the Guardian. Those who argue that this is an affront to freedom of speech miss the point. That freedom counts for little if it is used to silence others. When women and minorities don’t feel able to speak their mind for fear of insult, threat or humiliation, no such freedom exists.
Read that back. Let it sink in.
Those who argue that this is an affront to freedom of speech miss the point. That freedom counts for little if it is used to silence others.
Our freedom of speech counts for nothing, because of the huddled unnamed mass of women, ethnic minorities and members of the LGBT community who are just too afraid to speak up against the torrent of abuse that they face 2% of the time. Orwell would be so proud.
Make no mistake, this is a very dangerous time for free speech, and the internet in general. The Guardian is just the first domino waiting to fall.
Since it is now established with “statistics” that freedom of speech is meaningless, we should be happy that they are planning to take it away. First the Guardian will shut down or cripple its comments sections – and then opportunistic, climbing MPs will cite the “destruction of comment sections in newspapers” as reason to impose the legislation that is already written, and just waiting for our permission to pass.
They will attack anonymity first, under the guise of reducing threats. Then they will move on “conspiracy theorist” websites that “offer up hate speech” by attacking governments. Or “racists” who criticise Europe or refugee policies. Critics of Israel will be “antisemites”, critics of Hillary Clinton will be “misogynist”, critics of Saudi Arabia will be “Islamophobes” and anyone who dares side against the press consensus on Syria or Ukraine will be “apologising for war crimes” or “spreading Russian propaganda”.
They are trying to make the web they want. It’s important we don’t let them.