Free Speech/limits

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on August 30, 2001 at 00:09:33:

I've sort of lurked through this whole censorship escapade, having gone through a similar thing some years back that destroyed the AOL Scuba Forum. Once the censorship genie's out of the bottle, it's hard to put it back in. And Chris and I have had this discussion before that once you start down the censorship slope, it's a slippery one indeed.

The problem with supporting the right of Free Speech (which I do w0holeheartedly) is that you have to believe it applies to everyone, even those whose speech you may find offensive or reprehensible. This was the position the ACLU was in some years back when they argued for the right of the American Nazi Party to hold a march and rally through Skokie, Illinois, a predominantly Jewish suburb. Free Speech either applies to everyone, or it will end up applying to no one.

By the same token, I'm personally appalled at the overall tone this board has taken in the past year or so. I'm dismayed at the level of anger that's displayed, especailly from a sport that is essentially gentle at its core. I'm incredulous at the intolerance of not only opposing ideas, but of those who would dare make an idea in opposition to something someone has posted. If venom was currency, there are a number of people who post here who would could retire rich.

From my standpoint, I'd suggest the following as a means of getting things back in order:

1. You gotta list your REAL name, first & last, w/the subject. No anonymous posts and no cutesy names. Helps with accountability. (And yes, I know that people could phony that up but the majority won't.)
2. List either ISP (or IP - never can remember which it is) or e-mail addresses. The claim to privacy is bogus since you're posting in a public forum.
3. No tolerance for even the slightest hint of a personal attack. Attack the ideas all you want but comments about the character/intergrity/knowledge/agency/affiliation/etc. of the poster gets you the boot.
4. Limit the number of posts an individual can make in a given day. I'd suggest 5.

This can be a very valuable forum for a lively dicsussion if we want it to be that way. Say what you have to say, say it well, and say it once. And don't take it all so seriously. It's a BBS, for goodness sake.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, Ca.

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