Wednesday, December 12, 2007
A commenter writes:
“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime . . . .” — Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
Also a hallmark of Webutante.
I am flattered by your compliment and remain, happily, guilty as charged.
When I was a newspaper reporter a long time ago, I met the First Amendment for the first time. I may have thought I understood it before then, but I didn't. Not really. Today I probably have more to learn, but I've now come to believe there is nothing more misunderstood by the citizens of our country than the First Amendment. And of the issue of censorship. And the huge differences between personal and government censorship.
Censorship, in our free, democratic world, has for the most part, been taken out of the realm of the government and put in the hands of individual citizens.
The magnificent concept of individual censorship also has another name: free speech. Free speech not only means I can say, write, think, watch, ingest, buy and read what I want---within the limits of the law---it also means I can discern and decline what I choose to think, write, watch and read.
I can and do write what I want here within the bounds of the law and my own sense of propriety, but just as important, no one is compelled to read a thing I say here. Amazing!
I can accept or reject comments for good reason, or no reason at all! Even on a whim. And call it what you may, I am guilty as charged. The Constitution guarantees me this ineffable privilege.
We individuals live and breathe individual choices and censorship thousands of times each day. I censor what I eat, who my friends are, what I blog and don't blog and who I publish in my comments section. Rarely I do reject a comment, sometimes for content and other times for taste. The First Amendment guarantees this right to me and you, but it doesn't and can't guarantee our feelings will never be hurt, or that we won't sometimes be offended.
Others have the same privilege. I may not always agree or like their censorship choices, even when they might censor me, but I staunchly defend their right to disagree with me, censor me and even reject me, even when I think it is uncalled for. The shoe of personal censorship fits both feet.
The First Amendment gives me the individual right of first refusal, so to speak. And guess what, Oh Anonymous Commenter, I can and do exercise that right for good reason, or for no reason at all on this blog.
It gives me the right to walk away, turn off the remote, delete or block an e-mail, refuse to respond to a caller. Remain silent. Be offended, and on and on and on.
And that's good news for you too. Because, if I don't publish your comment, you may still publish it on your own blog for anyone else to read, or not read, as they so choose.
That's freedom within the limits of our law, for that I am most thanbkful. And hopefully you are too.
So, Mr. Anonymous, I'm on my way to a day of personal censorship in myriad ways, and I hope you are too. If you don't like my censorship choices, then you certainly have The First Amendment's permission to walk away from me and my little choices.
The Pope uses his First Pope Right to condemn and dissuade.
Posted by Webutante at 6:21:00 AM