Thursday, April 21, 2005

Blogger Censorship

Hey everyone! Today's post is for YOU, and hopefully you will help me out here!

Recently I commented that I write my blog entries with more concern about being honest, raw, and shameless than writing my entries to impress anyone else or for getting attention or for presentation. I have that same philosophy in my personal and public life that just seems to be naturally-inclined to be transparent and vulnerable; not packaged or presented in any way other than as who I am. Most people in my life would agree that they don't feel like they have to "get to know me;" they feel my vulnerability and honesty immediately and a closeness is encouraged very quickly. No surprises or facets or personas. Just me.

That being said, I am extremely mindful and considerate and perfectly appropriate for all social occasions. (Friends who know me, back me up here, please) You really can take me anywhere and I can be adaptable.

Well... THAT being said, recently I offended a fellow blogger by posting to his blog something he deemed inappropriate. I have a fairly close, extremely playful, and genuinely enthusiastic rapport with him, having contact nearly on a daily basis. My post was intended as playful, silly, and raunchy, but certainly NOT as offensive and inappropriate. My post was deleted with no indication as to why, nor was I informed in any way.

Today I asked about the situation and discovered the apparent offensiveness as interpreted from my rather innocent post. To make matters worse, the offense wasn't actually against the blogger, but against the imagined responses from his readers. He explained he was concerned about "grandmothers" and "moms" reading my words about the perils of living with straight girls and the inevitable funk of Scooter. New York Subway/Bus riders and my readers and friends will know that is... LOL!

Now, this entry ISN'T to dispute my fellow blogger's reaction or stance against my post. We talked and I totally, TOTALLY understand. I learned something new about my pal, today.

Instead, this post is a kind of survey. I think I may have been naive and clueless as to the motivations of others for a personal blog. Please use the COMMENTS link to answer these questions about which I am extremely curious now:

If you have a personal blog (not a commercial or specialized blog), do you blog for your audience or for yourself? Or for what other reason?

Do you censor your blog, knowing that there are certain people or kinds of people who read it?

Do you delete comments that do not absolutely praise and support you and your blog (other than spam)?

Do you believe that being published online for the world to see, along with activating interactive tools for all to use, is automatically an invitation for differing opinions and expressions? If not, do you believe that blog should indicate its restrictions and warn of censorship?


That's all. I'm very curious now!

And fellow blogger pal whom I offended: it won't happen again.

Thanks everyone!

Troy

16 comments:

potusol said...

I write my blog for myself AND my friends. Anyone who stumbles across it by accident does so at their own peril. So far, not much peril...

I don't get that many comments because most of my friends respond to me through e-mail. This works out great because it can be a personal communication. Nothing bugs me more than when someone puts personal information in a comment that would be better sent through e-mail. Don't tell me you got laid by commenting on MY blog. Also, don't write a book when commenting, send an e-mail or post it on your own blog (that's what it's for).

I have not had to censor any comments. I have had to throw away hate mail and ignore people who think my blog is frivolous (because I'm capable of better, they say). But I reserve to the right to delete comments in the future that might offend my friends or attack them in any way. Anything against me or the things I say I'm not so worried about, I have really thick skin (that is surprisingly soft thanks to Neutrogena).

that = my 2 cents

Yvonne said...

I have a personal blog that is not published on any listings. It is only for me and no-one can even access it. So citricritic is very much a means of exchanging ideas with people whom I admire/learn from. It’s pretty clear that I never censor myself. I would only delete a comment if someone were cruel to a third party. For example, if Bob says he likes petunias and Jill says only a fucking asshole would sniff a petunia, then Jill won’t be around long. Jill can call me a fucking asshole if she wants, though, as long as she gives me a reason for doing so. If I am being insulted gratuitously, I’ll delete it because I don’t think it adds to my readers’ experience. As for “automatically inviting differing opinion/expressions” – absolutely.

Having said that, I DO worry about offending people - causing emotional pain is worse, in my opinion, than causing physical pain. Nevertheless, I plunge ahead with my sharp-tongued blog and with less-than-P.C. posts because it’s what I set it up to DO. I give my cyber-friends credit for having a brain and making adult choices for themselves.

It is interesting that this issue comes up at this time. My recent posts on HIV (Hey, you but the bee in my bonnet!) are not pleasant: I expose myself as a lost and frightened person struggling to survive my “self” as much as the threat of infection. Perhaps by being horrified by my mistakes, someone else will make better choices. I truly hope so.

Your photos (below) are fun. You clearly know how to live life joyfully. It is inspiring to visit your blog. Now for a little more True Groove Lounge...

PJS said...

Since I am, presumably, the evil censoring Nazi described in this post, I think perhaps I should clarify my position.

Just because we CAN say anything we want doesn't mean we SHOULD say anything we want. Abraham Lincoln once said "my right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins".

I've been blogging nearly every day for six months, and have only found occasion to delete two comments. Two. One, I felt, was hurtfully attacking someone I like and respect. The second one, I felt, was just a little coarser in terms of language than I wanted to have floating around on my blog.

I never wanted to censor anyone, and have never ever deleted someone just for disagreeing with me. Heck, my blog is generally so boring it would be unfathomable for controversy to arise... but the few times it has, a spirited and uncensored debate has ensued.

Who is my audience? My friends, and strangers who stop by and like what they see -- some of whom become friends themselves.

For me, it's not about censorship, it's more about courtesy. I realize this makes me sound old-fashioned, and probably ridiculous to some. There are plenty of places on the internet where people can go for profanity, discussions of genitalia, and other things I've had the temerity to deem "offensive", that's just not what I'm trying to be in my little homestead on the web.

As far as the moms and grandmas reading my blog, it sounds humorous to categorize them that way, but to me they're individual people that I know and care about. In addition to the moms and grandmas, I have drag queens, lawyers, Germans, lesbians, housewives, Christians, atheists and substitute teachers reading my blog. Call me crazy, but I don't really want to offend any of 'em.

That's not "repression", it's just good manners.

CocteauBoy said...

Parley, you didn't have to out yourself! d'oh!

As for your defense, I have no problem with that at all. Ultimately, it's your blog and that's all that matters!

I would, however, invite you to consider that there is a contradiction in your explanation above. If "courtesy" and "old-fashioned" and a deep interest in not being offensive was your movitation, then a nice email to the unintentionally offensive blogger would have been a nice gesture. It seems a contradiction to protect a few phantom opinions vs one of the regular, devoted contributors to your blog; you know?

Considering the daily, playful, oft-times raunchy exchanges we share, AS WELL AS the often-raunchy, playful characters who regularly contribute to your blog, to delete my post was just totally surprising. I think it made it worse that there was a complete assumption that I should have known better. There is NO WAY I would have known that vaginas were not allowed to be mentioned among such a free-thinking, playful mix of characters!

There would have been no way for me to know you were more concerned with an image presentation to a grandma over a genuine interaction with those whom you've created a strong rapport.

Therein lies the contradiction and irony: the protection of an image to be upheld for grandmas vs the genuine intimacy being nurtured with a person you call a friend.

I think a quick email alerting me to the bumbling offense and what you did to manage it would have been even MORE courteous and old fashioned than a flippant deletion and assumption of intended offense.

But... it's all good.

I'm now only curious as to how many people blog with those kinds of unspoken restrictions. It's fascinating!

Yvonne said...

I'm having a pout that I can't get onto the True Groove Lounge again. Oh well, back to my Cher collection, I guess.

Yvonne said...

Thanks for pointing that out, cocteauboy! I didn't even know I had my email turned "off". It is citricritic@hotmail.com

See ya!

SquareSlant said...

This is an interesting subject…and I’m going to weigh in if you don’t mind.

I have two blogs and post basically the same thing on both. One is for my family and “real life” friends. I own the domain name and uses my real name and that of family members on that site. Rarely do I give out that email or URL. Why??? Because my mother and aunts read it and I was afraid that people would use language that would offend them. That being said…I started a blog on Blogger so I could get different opinions. If I did not have another blog for family I would censor comments.

Since she has visiting me – I have read her posts and comments from Blogger…but I change some of the words. She is offended (right or wrong) by some words. Everyone has the right to say what they want…but not everywhere they want. So censoring is a fact of life.

If someone posted something anti-gay or something that Carlos might take wrong on your blog – you too would probably censor.

Just because something does not offend me…does not make it inoffensive to others. It is a judgment call and the call is made by the Blog’s author.

PJS said...

I can see Troy's point about letting him know... "hey, look, you might think this is nutty but I just deleted your post about "X", I understand what you were trying to say, but some of the language was a little racier than what I encourage using on my blog posts & comments".

I've been accused in my personal life of expecting people to 'read my mind', so perhaps it really is more 'courteous' of me to let people know if they've crossed one of my imaginary lines.

but i stick to my guns about the gull-durned language!

sincerely,
The Church Lady

duff said...

i suppose i treat my blog the same way i do my radio shifts- while working from the angle that i am the only one who actually hears/reads what i'm saying allows me to be more open than i would be otherwise (pick up a microphone in front of even 1 person i don't know- uh, NO), i also try to make sure that what i'm saying is of at least passing interest to whomever may overhear (or read over my shoulder).

i have it in mind to get some of my more interesting stuff into a book someday- the less interesting stuff- whatever happens to be on my mind at the time- i suppose just encourages people to check back in to see when i'll say something worthwhile again.

i'm not big on censorship, but i will admit i have been somewhat cautious about some of the things i talk about- most of my thoughts on child-rearing are out, since i work at a preschool, and i know my boss checks in. (however, as soon as i leave that job, i have a backlog of observations/anecdotes i'll have to share.)

as far as comments are concerned, i have deleted three- all from some anonymous coworker who felt the need to spew endless negativity all over my blog.

i've always felt that the exchange of ideas is a great concept- it's fantastic to hear from folks with different perspectives- but comments should only enhance a blog- not detract from it.

one said...

- I blog for myself, but I have some daily stalkers.

- One look at my blog, and you'll get the answer to this one. No censorship.

- I once deleted comments to mess with someone. My readers bash me so bad, I've created a club...The Blogging Hyenas.

- Once you've decided to post something online, it is for the world. It is "out there" to be had. Some might like it, some might not. I think uncensored blogging is great...it's a way to leave your mark (or stain!).

Like your blog BTW!!

Tara said...

Just started my blog a couple weeks ago...thought it was just for myself, but the first positive comment disabused me of the idea that my ego was uninvolved! Hindsight being 20/20, I think I am practicing expressing my "private" self in public while keeping the emotional safety of relative anonymity...

I do not censor my blog... that would defeat the purpose for me. I would rather have an authentic history and just respond to comments I disagree with, though I believe I would delete postings in which I can't find any message beyond expression of hate. So far I haven't said anything to prompt hate mail (must not be doing it right yet ;-)

In general, I think people should run their blogs any way they want... we all have different reasons for having them. But at the same time, I do think that in publishing public discourse there is a level of responsibility to present all the discourse that has been generated... or to inform readers that the blog is NOT a dialogue but rather a monologue!

CocteauBoy said...

Oh the irony! From Parley's own blog in response to someone editing herself...

QUOTE:

PJS said...

Ah, [edited name], we're all about the open exchange of ideas here at NOW A WARNING. Speak your mind! The only comments I've ever deleted have been: a) from a specific villain lurking in the Deep South, b) from a friend who accused me of boosting my own comments to appear more popular, c) from rude "drive-by" anonymous commenters who just wanted to be ornery.

Go ahead, add to the wild mosaic...


1:54 PM

END QUOTE

Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

Umm, YES, and there is no contradiction here. I didn't delete your comments because you disagreed with me or vote differently than me or hang your toilet paper roll "up" instead of "down", or because you eat plants and I eat animals.

I deleted stuff that I took as graphic sexual language that I preferred not to have sitting there in my comments section. What you don't seem to be able to handle is the idea that two people could disagree on what may be offensive. Whichever version isn't yours is somehow "censorship".

Not sure what the big deal is.

There are plenty of blogs out there if you prefer not to read or comment on my freedom-restricting fascist gestapo blog, or if it's too much to ask for the common courtesty of keeping the language clean.

I'd prefer to have this exchange in private, but if you feel the need to shore up public support for your "side" like we're in some kind of war, go for it.

It's your blog (which is my whole point anyway).

CocteauBoy said...

Yikes, Parley, it's not that charged. Look through the Comments, you will see that most everyone admits to some kind of censorship for various reasons. There aren't any "sides" here at all. It feels to me that bloggers are all in the same boat, for the most part; or at least the ones we attract around here.

But I appreciate your response here because it NEVER would have occurred to me that anyone would include the word "vagina" as a "graphic sexual language" or as "unclean language." I thought we lived in the age of The Vagina Monologues, so I thought the stigma and disgust against our genitalia were lifted.

I think someone just thought it was ironic and funny that you left such an open and friendly invitation to "speak your mind," contribute to the "open exchange of ideas," and to "add to the wild mosaic." The irony and humor comes from the fact that this very invitation from you was given in response to the self-restraint of one blogger not feeling comfortable with openly commenting on her disgust against homosexual displays of affection, genitalia, and sex.

Who could have ever guessed that THAT would be OK and even invited, but the word Vagina warranted a deletion?

It is kinda funny, right?

Anyway, this isn't as charged as you are interpreting it. It's just an invitation to discuss something that took me by COMPLETE surprise and sort of shook me up a little. I have to admit that I felt really awful feeling your idea of my being such an "unclean, rude, discourteous, and disrespectful" person, especially when that is so far from the truth of my behavior and intent.

No hard feelings... and even with these contradictions, humor, and my possible exacerbation of a situation, I did learn something more about myself and my pal, Parley.

I hope you forgive me, Parley, but this was important to me.

And for the record, Parley, come on... you outted yourself in this dialogue. I never referred to you or your blog at all until you launched our privacy into the public. I took that as an invitation to discuss it publicly.

But, as I said, I am still learning about you. And maybe Contradiction is your middle name?

Heh heh...

VeryApeAZ said...

I blog because the judge said it was either post 3-4 times a week or go to jail.... now I'm wishing I'd chosen the latter.

CocteauBoy said...

ohhh... intriguing, VeryApeAZ! And who is this "judge?"