Like many people on the Interwebs, I read the opinion piece in Forbes, Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money. (Thanks to the magic of the Internet and cached content, you can see what was supposedly “deleted.”) Now, before we get into the discussion whether or not I agree with the piece, let me state emphatically that I think it’s wrong on a multitude of levels. That being said, I also think that Forbes should not have pulled the article in response to the shitstorm that ensued over it. Yeah, it is a form of censorship.
Living in a Land of Confusion
Forbes caved to pressure from the masses, pure and simple. Whether the piece was well-researched or not, was completely immaterial. Why do I say that? Because it is a fucking opinion piece, folks. That article is the opinion of the writer, who may or may not have the same opinions as the Forbes magazine. It may not be a popular opinion; it may not even be a valid opinion. But it is an opinion, nonetheless. It doesn’t mean that the person is right or intelligent.
The opinion piece brought up something unpopular. Oh well. Does that mean that magazines and news outlets should cave when someone objects to something they wrote? Does this mean that they should censor their opinions for fear someone or something is going to call them on it or make such a fuss that they look bad?
The “C” Word
Yeah, I just used the “C” word: censor. Granted, it’s not the government cracking down on free speech, but it might as well could be. You see, just because an idea is unpopular doesn’t mean it should never be talked about. I mean, if this guy wants to talk about shutting down libraries in lieu of coffee shops and Amazon bookstores, who the fuck am I to prevent him from talking about it? It’s his idea and if Forbes thought it was good enough to print, they should just stick with it and take their lumps. They’re not inciting violence, nor are they talking about doing something illegal. The author just put his unpopular opinion out there.
Whether you think Forbes should not have published something like that is immaterial. Forbes published it. They needed to put on their big boy (or girl) pants and deal with the fallout. Because not everything everyone publishes is going to be popular with people.
Where the Line Needs to be Drawn
At this point, you’re probably wondering what I think about other more controversial views, such as racism, Nazism, slavery, or child pornography. Obviously, I’m against those things that exploit innocents, and I am sure as shit against things like slavery, racism, Nazis, and child pornography. That being said, there is a lot of gray when it comes to freedom of speech. Writing a racist blog is one thing; inciting people to riot or to kill other ethnicities because you don’t like the look of that person is another.
I have to draw the line at harm and things that exploit other people. If it causes harm, or intends to cause harm, I have to be against it. If it is just a bunch of trash talk, then while I don’t like it, I certainly tolerate it, because not everyone is going to agree with my point of view.
Destroying Freedom of Speech Destroys Your Right
One thing I have never understood is why people are so quick to give up their freedoms when their own group is in charge as if it will never affect them. In America, at least, nobody’s party is in charge forever. When you deny freedoms for the other groups, you’re denying yourself freedom when the other groups get in charge (which inevitably happens). It’s like you think the good times are going to keep on rolling forever, and you can’t see beyond the next week, let alone four years from now. One thing is for certain: you give up a right, even if you aren’t using it now, and you will regret it.
So the morons who goosestep in their mom’s basement want to march? Okay, let them. If they get out of line and break the law, throw their asses in jail. If you don’t let them march, then when you want to march to promote Heathen awareness or something like that, the Christians may decide you are too controversial to march. After all, you offend them with your pagan gods.
Censorship Doesn’t Make the Ideas Go Away
One of the big problems with censorship is that ideas that are censored simply go underground. In the face of overwhelming opposition, people don’t change their minds, they look for other people to validate their beliefs. When Christianity came into power, the pagans went underground. Eventually, many of them converted just to avoid the consequences, but paganism never went away 100 percent. Many people simply adopted the appearance of being Christian while still keeping with their pagan traditions. We can see that even today.
Being Tolerant of Other’s Ideas
You’re not going to agree with everyone. Some people are going to say things that in your mind are positively stupid and unenlightened. Get over it. Let them say their piece and present a rational argument against them. Don’t turn it into a shouting match, because you’ve lost the argument and the discussion. Why do you think I frown mightily on ad hominem attacks? It’s not because my feelings are hurt — it’s because it is a form of bullying that turns people off to the conversation. When you start attacking the person rather than discussing the idea, it becomes obvious you don’t want a conversation. You just want to shout me down.
That doesn’t work. Never has.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about. Maybe something actually clever. Let me know what you think.