I was repeatedly censored in a thread while discussing freedom of speech. When I posted again, connecting my censorship directly to the topic, I was censored again. I would like an explanation.
A very curious thing happened in the thread "Hanging Judged
." The topic was a sophomoric undergrad art project on a college campus, showing flags streaked with bloody red crosses and several nooses. The project was obviously trolling, it was a juvenile attempt to provoke people at best, egregiously naive about the historical and societal implications of the noose symbol at worst.
Alongside the usual sorts of discussion of social implications, and the cluelessness of the "artist," comments clearly indicated that this ridiculous provocation was too stupid to take so seriously. The first of those comments:
No noose is good noose.
posted by jonmc at 8:11 PM on April 27 [7 favorites +] [!]
My own response was even more terse, invoking a stupid internet meme to comment on how the project was itself now a stupid internet troll:
This mode of commenting is becoming fairly common on text-based internet discussion boards. Further discussion appeared in this same mode, invoking that old meme with Freddy Mercury raising his fist:
slow noose day
posted by GuyZero at 9:06 PM on April 27 [4 favorites +] [!]
From all the favorites, it is apparent that people enjoy this mode of communication. A discussion can be serious and not take itself too seriously. So I continued on with another response in that mode, starting with a quotation from 23skidoo that was already being discussed, but I quoted it anyway for specific context.
>it's not like every noose HAS to make people think of lynching.
Both of my comments were removed from the thread, while other remarks such as GuyZero's were untouched. It seemed that the mod who censored my remarks was acting capriciously, illogically. I could not imagine why any mod would do such a thing, particularly since the discussion involved topics of whether artists should be allowed to use provocative imagery, and whether it pushed the limits of free speech. Perhaps the mod merely misunderstood the message. This was also a topic of the thread:
If you leave your communication open to multiple, valid interpretations, don't be surprised when people interpret it in one of those ways.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:58 PM on April 27 [1 favorite +] [!]
So I made another comment to tie this act of censorship directly to the subject under discussion. I considered making the post in MetaTalk but this seemed specifically related. But I knew the mod was acting strangely, so I kept a copy of what I posted.
>The artist's free speech should be protected.
Yes, even sophomore art exhibits that are poorly thought out are protected speech. But nobody guaranteed you a life free of annoying, even sophomoric speech.
When 23skidoo says "it's not like every noose HAS to make people think of lynching." and I respond with "close_enough.jpg", no less authority than the New York Times has declared these sort of shorthand notations for visual images as a new frontier of expressive language. It is unworthy of MeFi moderators to censor and remove such remarks, particularly in a thread discussing the limits of freedom of speech.
Using meme/emoticon/verbal imagery like this can work on multiple levels. Other comments in this thread used the same mode to express that we are not taking this outrage too seriously, after all, the art project is a sophomoric attempt at trolling for outrage and deserves a response in the same sophomoric mode. Yet at the same time, when 23skidoo says that not all nooses evoke lynching, I say it's close enough to that symbol that of course it will be recognized as such.
So sometimes I just don't know what the hell is going through MeFi mod's minds when they pull relatively innocuous remarks like "close_enough.jpg". Are they protecting the sensitive, paper thin skin of mefites? Or perhaps a stalwart defender of old school online linguistic modes against the depredations of meme based communication?
Face it, kids these days communicate in terse symbols. The noose, the white flag with a red cross, these are almost minimalist. They are clearly conveyed without any reduction in impact even in the crude 400x250 pixel jpeg in the FPP link. I responded by invoking similar imagery, with a method that is now becoming commonplace online, when people want to evoke the sentiment of a well-known internet icon without bothering to link to the photo. When I say "close_enough.jpg" almost anyone who has been on the internet recently knows exactly what I mean.
Except apparently MeFi mods.
This comment was also removed. Discussion continued, with other people making comments "The artist's free speech should be protected." I responded:
MY freedom of speech should be protected. I'm taking this to MetaTalk.
This comment was also removed. It seemed relevant to the discussion that part of it was censored. Removing that message was unreasonable.
So perhaps the unknown moderator who persistently removed my comments can explain their actions to me. It is unseemly for MetaFilter moderators to remove comments from a discussion about the limits of freedom of speech, particularly when the targets are the most innocuous comments in the entire thread, and other similar comments were not censored.