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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the conversation-clips dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Stephen T. Stone weighing in on one of the many comment-section incarnations of the neverending debate about conservative censorship:

Conservatives like Koby have a specific issue with words like ?censorship?: They prefer usage over definition, even when the term has an actual definition. Social consequences become ?censorship?, even when conservatives haven?t actually been silenced, because they were taught to see anyone trying to deny conservatives a platform they?re not entitled to use (or anyone criticizing conservative speech in even the lightest way) as ?censorship?.

For them, ?censorship? isn?t the government trying to suppress speech by any means necessary. It?s Gina Carano being fired for likening the Holocaust to people shit-talking Republicans. (And if someone thinks she was fired for ?being conservative?, they may want to reconsider that position.)

In second place, it’s John Roddy with a simpler version of the sentiment:

There has never been any credible evidence suggesting “conservative censorship.” Why do you keep insisting otherwise?

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment from Stephen T. Stone, on the subject of link and snippet taxes for journalism, and specifically in response to the oft-raised defense that the journalism business does have very real problems:

A government forcing Google to subsidize journalism by way of a link tax will not solve that problem.

Next, it’s PaulT offering some translation services for Brendan Carr’s comments about net neutrality and big tech:

What Brendan Carr thinks he said in his tweet:

“we need to look at the big players in the marketplace, and not treat small independent companies the same as major corporations”

What he actually said:

“As the FCC commissioner, I haven’t the first clue of the massive fundamental differences between ISPs and platforms, and should be immediately removed from any position with any power over either of these markets”

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous suggestion about how to turn the tables on cops who play copyrighted music to interfere with people recording them:

Send the clips to the collection agencies, as I am sure they are interested in unlicensed public performances.

In second place, it’s That One Guy taking a moment to enjoy Trump being deprived of Twitter:

What a pleasant start to the week

Normally hearing about an addict going through withdrawals is anything but funny but I gotta say, in this case it’s downright hilarious.

After being given the long overdue boot from two major platforms where he had millions listening to him he’s reduced to scribbling on pieces of paper and hoping that someone around him will post his ramblings online(risking their accounts as well), and adding to the humor is that he could easily use some of the money he conned from his cultists to set up his own site to post on but he’s so obsessed with the audience on the current social media platforms that he apparently refuses to do so(though I suppose it could also be that if he did easily set up such a site it would somewhat ding the ‘tech is silencing me!’ narrative).

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got a pair of jokes making reference to TV shows — one I understood, and one I had to look up. First, it’s Nate Piper referencing The Office for an idea about Trump:

Trump Thoughts

No need to even connect Trumps mini-twitter to the internet. Just make a word document and tell him everyone can read his thoughts.

Next, it’s Jojo with a joke I had to Google to identify as a reference to Spongebob Squarepants:

Backlash to Section 230 in a Nutshell

Hatch: ?Section 230 poisoned our water, burned our crops, and brought a plague on our houses!?

Other senators: ?He did??

Hatch: ?No! But are we going to wait for that to happen?!?

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:


It’s just a change in meaning. Like "tragic" which nowadays merely means "awful" rather than "as a direct consequence of trying to prevent the malady", "censorship" in "conservative" (another word that has changed meaning beyond recognition) circles has become synonymous to "repudiation".

"Conservatives" think they have a constitutional right not to be contradicted. At least they are doing their best for conserving some uses of the term "snow flake" in language if not in climate.

charliebrown (profile) says:

Google Docs

Trump could write his "Tweets" in a Google Docs document and set it to "Public". Although I don’t think it’d tell him how many people have read it which is something he probably can’t live without.

Having said that, I am enjoying the peace and quiet of no Trump online. And it’s not like he’s gonna read Techdirt, so I doubt he’ll ever see my suggestion. Even if he did, I just choose not to click on the link to see his document. I’ll just wait for one of the late night talk show hosts to dismantle and shit all over it.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

CDA §230

I can’t wait for the "liberals", "progressives", and "conservatives" to remove CDA §230 law that protects websites.

Then we won’t have

  • best of TechDirt
  • funniest of YouTube
  • best DIY sites

Wow. What a better world that would be, where we can’t share knowledge, humor, and have fun.

Thanks, politicians! You ran on "I will represent you in Washington" and now you’re all on the "I know better than you."

Someone should pass a law to… oh yeah, you won’t do that to … you.


Anonymous Coward says:

Censorship is censorship, regardless of the source

The End Result remains the same.

A voice is silenced

Information is lost

Discourse is harmed.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the government, big business/tech or a mob of people that does it.

In the end, it’s all the same.

Aaron Swartz said it best "I fear big tech more than big government, because big tech has no one that they have to answer to."

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Censorship is censorship, regardless of the source

"It doesn’t matter if it’s the government, big business/tech or a mob of people that does it."

That’s a long way to drag your straw man. Government holds the violence monopoly and can send you to jail.

All big business can do is toss you out from their premises and inform you you’re no longer welcome.

"Aaron Swartz said it best "I fear big tech more than big government, because big tech has no one that they have to answer to.""

Trust the alt-right to try to shanghai a dead man’s words to fit their narrative. Aaron would be the very first to come down on the alt-right asshats whining that they’ve been tossed out of the neighborhood pub for heiling on the dance floor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Conservatives or "conservatives" may be trying to redefine the word "censor" to include getting criticized or fired for saying something stupid on social media, but then the other side is just as much trying to redefine it to exclude platform moderation. Maybe both should crack a dictionary before getting into that argument. Even Wikipedia would do in a pinch.

As long as the dictionary says it means "to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable," that’s what I’m going by.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think it’s perfectly fine if someone wants to use the word "censorship" in the broad dictionary verb sense of any act, by anyone, of removing content that they for any reason consider objectionable. You are right, that IS the most basic definition.

But here’s the thing: if that’s the meaning of the word we’re using, then "censorship" is not even slightly remarkable. It happens every day, in a million different contexts, most of which are completely unobjectionable – from a comedy club kicking out a drunk heckler, to a daytime news broadcast blurring out footage of a naked person, to a parent telling their child not to say a bad word. And so if that’s the meaning we’re using, simply calling something "censorship" is not by itself a particularly compelling condemnation or objection.

And so when someone complains about "censorship" with the very clear implication that they mean it is obviously, automatically objectionable and perhaps even illegal, what they are necessarily implying is that they do not mean the broadly generic dictionary definition of it as a verb, the thing that happens every day all the time – they must be thinking of a more specific cultural/political definition of the concept of "censorship" as a presumed evil that must be fought in every incarnation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

your logic is fine. Great in fact.

But you overlooked the cognitive dissonance. It seems people who complain about censorship (in the US is the scope of what I am talking about) often want people the think the act is objectionable, while still using the broad, non-objectionable meaning.

This of course leads to lots of problems, including diluting our ability to notice, find, and deal with/correct actual, objectionable censorship in the US.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And that’s part of the reason why I developed this paragraph:

Moderation is a platform/service owner or operator saying “we don’t do that here”. Personal discretion is an individual telling themselves “I won’t do that here”. Editorial discretion is an editor saying “we won’t print that here”, either to themselves or to a writer. Censorship is someone saying “you won’t do that anywhere” alongside threats or actions meant to suppress speech.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I do think this is a good breakdown especially for the kinds of issues we discuss around here – though at the same time, I increasingly think it’s best to avoid getting bogged down in semantics.

There are situations in which I’d use a different definition of censorship, for a different kind of conversation, or at least in which I wouldn’t object to other people doing so.

I was thinking the other day about the example of a company that produces family-friendly edits of movies. That’s content moderation in your breakdown, which is what I’d usually call it to. But to be fair, the person there who goes through the audio to bleep/dub bad language probably literally has "Censor" in their job title, and the job they do has been referred to as "censorship" longer than I’ve been alive.

That is of course largely irrelevant to the kind of thing we’re discussing here – but I raise it as an example of how, yeah, the argument some put forth that we are trying to override a very basic and accepted dictionary definition by insisting that lots of things "aren’t censorship" can indeed carry some weight in some contexts. It’s a word that can be used in different ways.

(None of that excuses the people who actively try to use it in a manipulatively vague way, or who shout "censorship!" as a one-word argument against perfectly reasonable acts of content moderation)

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I admit that in both of the columns I wrote on the matter, the “family-friendly edits of films” thing never crossed my mind. (I don’t think it did, anyway. I have a somewhat faulty memory.) I would’ve probably called that “censorship” in the past, too.

I try not to stay tied to prescriptivism on the matter (save for the “moderation is actually censorship” thing). But people yelling “censorship” where none exists grinds my gears. That’s another reason I developed the moderation/discretion/censorship bit.

As for the example you offered: Yeah, I’d probably call that a mix of moderation and editorial discretion — albeit a legally shady version of it. Whether I’d sincerely refer to the editors as “censors” would probably depend on my mood at that moment.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'No really, I actually AM being censored this time!' 'Nice try.'

And therein lies the big pitfall of using the term that way, it waters it down such that should a meaningful example of censorship happen people are much more likely to just shrug it off as yet another complaint and crocodile tears by someone facing social consequences for their words/actions, rather than something that’s worth taking seriously.

In trying to garner sympathy by playing the ‘censorship’ card to excuse horrible behavior those doing so have instead effectively turned the accusation downright homeopathic and just as effective to anyone who’s not already bought into it, leaving themselves wide open should anyone ever decide to make their accusations true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 'No really, I actually AM being censored this time!'

So you admit that the only actual racists/nazis in existence in the US in 2021 consists of about a dozen mouthbreathing Klansmen and about half a dozen LARPers dressed in ersatz SA uniforms, none of which anyone takes seriously? Because then you’d be right and have a valid point.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

people … tend to use "censorship" in cases where they disagree with it and a less emotion-negative synonym when they agree

And that gets into the whole “usage vs. definition” issue I mentioned in that top comment from the article. Censorship has a strict definition, but people upset over the removal of content or whatever ignore that definition in favor of colloquial usage. (Hence the “I have been silenced!” comic to which I linked.) The word then becomes, as you said, a method of tribalistic opinion. Thus, the colloquial use of “censorship” is the tribalistic use.

I developed my bit about moderation, discretion and censorship partially because I needed a way to avoid that bullshit mindset. Someone getting the boot from Twitter doesn’t censor that someone. Whether I agree with the politics/opinions of that someone is irrelevant to that fact.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"It seems people who complain about censorship (in the US is the scope of what I am talking about) often want people the think the act is objectionable, while still using the broad, non-objectionable meaning."

Of course they do. The alt-right relies almost exclusively on context not being a thing in the narrative they want to spin, because whenever that’s introduced their argument comes apart like a soggy paper towel under a sand blaster.

It’s quite deliberate, of course. Almost every alt-right asshat knows at some level that bringing the arguments they actually believe in – white supremacy, the belief in the global jewish supremacy, or the evil satanist cabal of child-traffickers helmed by the Kenyan Muslim – will be rejected by everyone not "enlightened" enough to subscribe to those beliefs from the start.

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