Did I hurt your feelings? I’m OK, You’re OK…
In the NY times this morning, I read an article titled "A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs" wherein the author posits whether it’s "…too late to bring civility to the Web?" I found it online here.
Pairing this article with various allusions and outright claims that I’ve been less than "civil" lately in the manner in which I publicly interact with other security "professionals," especially when they let their butt hang out, I paused for a moment to contemplate the article and the underlying message it sought to communicate.
I further contemplated messages from fellow bloggers who want to encourage meaningful, supportive and positive dialogue within our community instead of provoking or otherwise poking those with whom we disagree. I took this to heart and thought long and hard about this.
No, really. I did.
I realized several things, denied about 6 others, and thought diligently about seeking therapy regarding my unhealthy obsession with gym socks and pickled herring.
I concluded a couple of things:
- The Internet is indeed a "…prickly and unpleasant place." There’s www.kittenwar.com where the vile mediator of all things cuddly and feline suggests "May the Cutest Kitten Win!" but I’m not sure that really counts.
- There are two types of people in the world. Those that blog and read blogs and those that visit www.kittenwar.com.
- "Recent outbreaks of antagonism…" describes my encounters daily with my local Starbucks Barista. Posting my opinion wherein someone lets their butt hang out is reasonable, warranted, sometimes juvenile and above all, fun.
- The community that is the Internet is self-policing. We kick ass when we need to and let the whole unregulated bunch ramble on as due course. Sometimes people throw their toys out of the pram, but that happens in grade school — the Internet’s no different.
- Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Wales should stick to allowing and ensuring the freedom of speech, not refereeing it. I didn’t vote for them. Did you?
- If, as Siskel and Eibert above get their way, I’ll have to rate my blog indicating "the principles…and what kind of behavior and dialogue [my blog will] will engage in. I liken that to the L.A. County Dept. of Health certifications on restaurants…while you certainly have a CHOICE not to eat at a restaurant with a ‘D’ rating, you’d miss every fantastic Vietnamese Pho restaurant this side of Delaware just because of a little E-Coli. Likewise, with this rating system, you’d miss all the best blogs out there!
- Turn off anonymous blogging or weed through the posts. Nobody said blogs were themselves administered as a democracy. You don’t like it, delete it. That’s an instantiation of free speech, too…mine.
- Last time I looked, nobody tapes peoples eye’s open and makes them read my blog. There is that group of folks in Gitmo, but they swear it’s just mild hazing.
- It occurs to me that what seems to be at issue here is actually
ANONYMOUS blogging. Fine. Turn the feature off. Require registration
and then folks can face those that annoy them.
- Civility is not the same thing as criminality or vulgarity, just to clear that up.
Just to be clear, the reaction by Mr’s. Wales and O’Reilly that were flamed by recent events are understandable, and the utter lunacy and despicable nature of the threats and taunts that Kathy Sierra endured are unconscionable. Nobody deserves that sort of harassment when lines are crossed and physical violence is threatened.
Look, O’Reilly’s "Blogger Code of Conduct" isn’t all that bad, and quite honestly I abide by most of the "code" as a function of being a reasonable human being and a rational contributor. Those items highlighted I find relevant, the rest, not so much:
- We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.
- We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person.
- We connect privately before we respond publicly.
- When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.
- We do not allow anonymous comments.
- We ignore the trolls.
That said, whether "free speech is enhanced by civility" or not is irrelevant. Free means unencumbered to me. In fact, here’s the Wikipedia definition of "Free Speech":
Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one’s opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment. The right is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations.
Nonetheless the degree to which the right is upheld in practice varies
greatly from one nation to another.
In many nations, particularly those
with relatively authoritarian forms of government, overt government censorship is enforced. Censorship has also been claimed to occur in other forms (see propaganda model) and there are different approaches to issues such as hate speech, obscenity, and defamation laws even in countries seen as liberal democracies.
I’d like it very much if we can just leave the "community" to self-police itself and not infringe on my ability to write what I like, when I like it about whomsoever I like to write about.
That’s just my uncivil opinion.