Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More on self-censorship

Prior to the myriad discussions on free speech being hashed out after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, I'd been thinking a lot about self-censorship, in my microscopic corner of the internet, and its effect on established media. As for the latter, the difference is clearly the method of delivery. Anyone on Twitter or Facebook can cry foul, and that's a good thing. In the past few years, the walls between writer and reader have been destroyed, but when mainstream media like Salon or The Atlantic give voice to even minor offenses, journalism takes a back seat.

I'm not saying journalists shouldn't be human, but lately it seems as though questioning, or maintaining objectivity, is ideological taint. (See the UVA story.) As activists, it's part of the job description, but journalists aren't activists.

For smaller, independent writers without a safety net, self-censorship is a beast to be wrestled with daily. Some of it's expected -- it's always good to give one's writing the once over for clarity -- but there's a reason why I don't actively promote my blog anymore, and there are days when I dread writing. It's difficult to comb through your words for every possible offense, for anything that could be taken out of context, for any joke whose sarcasm some reader might miss. I've seen similar complaints on blogs and forums usually with a variation of "check your privilege" as the answer, but at some point, we need to step back and actually look at context (when did context stop being a thing?) and put a hold on the infighting.