I REALLY didn’t want to do this….

i really didnt want to do this

by Kenneth Justice

~ In the United States and most other Western Countries men and women enjoy freedom of speech. We’re free to say what we want about most anything that we want…..

—) call the Prime Minister a nut-job; you’re allowed

—) tell everybody you believe that space aliens spawned the human race on the moon and then impregnated the earth; you’re allowed.

Freedom of speech is not something they enjoy in certain places of the world such as North Korea; call President Kim a ‘human right’s violator and a uncaring douche bag’ and if you’re a North Korean citizen life is NOT going to go well for you afterwards.

I appreciate freedom of speech and I’m also very reticent of the responsibility that comes with living in a society where we can say whatever we want. You see, the ‘responsibility’ factor is important; it means we can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater (you’d be breaking the law) and even though you have the ‘right’ to call your boss a ‘bald headed ungrateful pig!” he also has the right to say to you ‘fired!”

I’m closing in on the end of my first full year of blogging and freedom of speech was something I wanted to maintain here on my website; I wanted readers to feel free to say whatever they want without fear of me censuring their comments. I don’t believe I have a corner-on-the-truth; I’m open to hearing all sides of an issue so I don’t have a problem when people disagree with me. And because of my devotion towards the concept we call ‘freedom of speech’ I’ve always left the comment button open; no moderation, whenever people type and click ‘reply’ it was immediately made public.

But then this past week came along……….

Look, I’ve shared before the various criticisms that people have leveled at me via my blog. Through email and by public comments people have called me quite a few…uh…colorful names, and this year has been an interesting period of growth for myself as I’ve had to learn how to deal with people (whom I don’t even known) saying very nasty things about me and my ideas.

And then this past week came along……..

This past week started off strong; earlier in the week a fundamentalist Christian read an old article of mine and not liking what I had to say; he made it very clear that The Culture Monk is “ignorant” and expressed a few other comments about the problem with my mental faculties.

Okay…so I’m a big boy, I read his reply and moved on.

Then, on an old post I wrote about the subject of gay marriage a reader called me a four letter word that starts with a “C” and ends with a “T” coupled with comments in which the reader says that The Culture Monk hates gay people.

To top it off, by mid-week a reader made a comment that The Culture Monk twists the truth and tries to hit on “fat chicks in order to “****” them” (I’m sure you can figure out what the expletive might be).

And thus, for the first time in my blogging career I deleted comments. I felt terrible, I had never deleted comments before and part of me felt as though I was violating these two readers ‘freedom of speech”.

I wasn’t particularly ‘mad’ at the readers for saying these slanderous things against me, but it seemed as though they did not take seriously the ‘responsibility’ that comes with freedom of speech.

You see, we all have the right to freedom of speech……but it is unethical to slander an individual. In fact, in the United States if someone slanders you; you have a legal right to sue the person if you so desire.

Slander is when you say something false about someone’s character; and it doesn’t matter whether you ‘really believe’ the false claim or not….it is still slander.

Thus, we have a right to stand up for what we believe in, we have a right to speak our minds, and we have a right to go on people’s blogs and tell them what we ‘believe the truth to be’. But we have a responsibility NOT to slander.

—) We need to be respectful when we disagree

—) We need to remember that we ourselves when making a comment could be mistaken or wrong

We need to use terms like “I believe you’ve gotten the facts wrong” as opposed to “you a^* h***, you’re an ignorant idiot that is twisting the story!”

And so on Wednesday I felt the need to begin moderating the comments on my blog. Regular readers and commenters to my blog would not have noticed any difference; if you’ve posted in the past you still have carte blanche and you’re replies are instantly made public by WordPress like they’ve always been……

but for new readers I’m now moderating each of the comments. Its been quite a bit of work this past week because every day I get alerts that inform me “you have a pending comment” and I have to leaf through each of the them to hit ‘approve’ and since I’m usually away from my computer, its somewhat of an arduous task to accomplish on my smart phone.

—) I feel guilty having to moderate the comments of new readers.

—) I feel like I am violating their freedom of speech.

—) I feel like I’m being some kind of big brother looking over their shoulder

And yet at the same time, its troubling when people slander me and accuse me of things that are completely false and untrue……

I think I’m going to have another coffee now and remember the good times when freedom of speech seemed so much easier….


Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

60 replies

  1. It is okay to maintain the freedom of speech if it is done so in a respectful manner towards the writer and his opinion. I so agree with you there.
    Just calling a person a “see you next Tuesday” and not explain your own opinion is jut disrespectful.
    To have respect for an opinion and his/her creator is the least you can have.
    And for one I know you do so. Thank you for another top notch post.

  2. Yes–I’m pretty passionate about free speech, too, but probably equally passionate about courtesy and respect. I think you’ve expressed your point really well, and handled this situation irenically. (Not ironically, which is what my autocorrect wanted me to say…) Well done, sir.

  3. I am very sorry you have been abused! I rather enjoy your blog myself 😀

  4. Thanks for this post, Kenneth. I learn something from you, every time I visit.

  5. Sorry for your troubles. Some people don’t realize that freedom of speech applies to everyone and not just them. Why is so hard for people to respect differences of opinion while still maintaining their own values?

  6. One way or another, those people, no matter how rude and insulting they are, have been affected by your blog. Lets hope that one day, they can reflect on their behaviour and even, he says wide eyed and breath held, realise the effect of their actions. Well done, I enjoy your blog!

  7. Don’t let it get you down, you’re handling it well. Adventures in Neverland is my personalblog but this is also what I do for a living (social media management). It’s perfectly ok to draw that line and stick to it. You are not censoring people who disagree with you, as I have on another post where you took the time to respond with a thoughtful defense of your original statement. Sparing those of us who also read the comments on your posts from that kind of abusive response is a good thing that shows you care about your community of readers – we know it doesn’t spare you anything because you still have to read and reject those messages. You’re doing the right thing, so go have that cup of coffee and shake it off 🙂

  8. Verbal abuse and free speech are two different things. If someone wishes to make a clear and cogent arguements against your point of view that is one thing, but to just hand out a load of (expletives deleted) is downright plain rude. Its YOUR blog, no one should swear at you there and if they do you don’t have to tolerate it, just as you wouldn’t put up with such behaviour in your home. Feel no guilt about moderating – I don’t want to read the opinions of (expletives deleted) idiots when I read your blog.
    Hey – you must be doing something right if you are getting people like that hot under the collar!

  9. Kenneth I also moderate my comments, although I approve anything that isn’t spam… one thing about the freedom of speech is everyone also has the freedom to not listen…

    • “everyone has the freedom to not listen”

      So true…..I remember thinking back-in-the-day when people would get all upset over radio shock jocks “why don’t the just stop listening or turn the channel?”

  10. I used to follow a blog, written by a Christian woman who changed her view about gay people and convinced her father to also be more tolerant. The hate mail that she received from so called ‘Christians’ was unbelievable. Most of the responses came from the same two or three people but they ended up posting over 100 comments on this one post alone and she eventually had to moderate her blog as well. I haven’t heard from her in a long time and I wonder if she shut down her blog all together.

    I hope that you never feel that you need to stop writing. That would be a loss to the blogging community.

    • Even though I am VERY open about my faith and belief in Christianity….”Christians” are often the most….uh….”intense” in their comments on my site…but that’s okay 🙂

  11. Unfortunately, the internet seems to spawn a lot of venom on occasion. People say things they would never dare say face to face. It’s down to that responsibility thing you’ve correctly emphasized. Be rude online, and there are seemingly no consequences. It’s high tech heckling, basically.

  12. Reading reminded me of a time some time ago I had just stzrted with the blog and greeen. It was all new to me and a learn as I go trial and error situation. Well it seems that some one or ones, I never learned how when or why were using my comment as a place. hitch hicking on my sight if you will with the intent of solisiting porn. A link appeared in the comment box total orental letters. I’m thinking way cool some one half way around the world is hearing my words. Pushing the link it sent me to a porn site. as I tryed to push the exit button it would sent me to another site then another some some kind of loop thing. Parden my naive speach as I am not tech sauve. Anyway I can’t remember how I got out maybe shut down. I went to a blog forum and got a solution. I am in all not opposed to porn per say. But is a matter of choice. Not trickery. being hijacked is not cool. Where some one else has control of your enviorment and you are helpless to do anything about it..Like some one breaking into your home and taking you hostage.

    I learned two very important lessons. I amof the mind set the blog is an extention of myself in the virtual world. Like inviting some one into your home to visit and discuss the world at large. NOW IN A PERFECT WORLD that is all good every body plays by then rules, even if they disagree. they will respectfully disagree. BUT WE LIVE IN THE REAL WORLD not every body plays by the rules. There are example of that all around us. Like there are rules in war. If that isn’t a redundant statement. WAR is legal murder. Anyway that is a subject for another time.As I was saying these ones are not playing fair in war. Killing women and children.

    With all this said…Sorry I am a little long winded at times. Responsibility goes both ways. As in my situation my responsiblity to my readers is to protect them from harm. If I had a house gathering would I allow someone in that I knew would bring harm to my guests or family? Or if I discoverer one of my guests was bringing harm to my family and guests would I allow them to stay? With all due respect to you and your feelings I can relate . it pains me to look in the face of reality. And to react is like putting salt in a wound. Consider this if you would. Would you welcome vulge gestures and cursing in front of your family esp. kid if you have them? Welcoming those commenters ..What kind of message is that sending out. That you think it is okay to disrespect others. I am negative or cold blooded but yes I do agree freedom of speach. As they have their rights you have rights too. THEY ARE WELCOME TO GO SPEAK FREELY WHERE EVER THEY WANT EXCEPT IN YOUR SPACE. They can go rent a billboard somewhere or get their own blog to spell out their hate words. I DON’T KNOW JUST A THOUGHT. NICK

    • Great thoughts…..I agree, our blog, our website, etc. is definitely an extension of ourself…and if u knew in person you’d know that I’m pretty laid back when it comes to just about everything….except when people make up stuff about me….

  13. Nice post. A while back, I took a class on the effects of computer mediated communication and as I recall, there are a lot of studies out there about flaming and why the people who do it feel empowered to be hurtful (anonymity, the perception that their views are in the majority, not worrying about hurting others because of physical distance from the person, etc.). Not that what I think matters, but I fully support your decision 🙂

  14. Freedom of speech is one thing but we have the right to edit bad people/words/whatever out of our life. This blog is yours to do with as you wish. You wouldn’t feel bad about editing improper pictures and words can be improper as well. It’s like painting a picture, you may add a color but when you look at it the yellow is completely inappropriate so you SCRAPE IT OFF. It’s your picture and the colors have to blend together to make it something you enjoy.

    People can say anything they want but you don’t have to accept it or spread their bad words around to others. You are the front line, the one who stops the rest of us from getting touched by their hateful thoughts. Do what you like but I’d rather visit and share with people who are okay. Don’t want a war of words or feel the need to defend you or your thoughts. You have a great blog where we can all share our thoughts but it wouldn’t be that way if you didn’t keep the trouble makers away. They would garner the attention and your blog would turn into a battle ground. Not a good thing. I’m behind you 100%. I know I don’t want to read their comments, let them start their own blog for that. Seriously, if people started sending you hateful comments with regard to racial, religious, gender slurs would you print those? You don’t have to accept that hatefulness you just press “trash,” because that’s where it belongs.

    • I think what annoys me the most is if u knew me in person, you’d see that I’m one of the most accepting people when it comes to race, gender, sex, etc……and then when I turn on my computer and see people writing bout me that I’m “anti-christian”, “anti-gay” and that I’m trying to “prey on overweight women”

      I’m like; “huh?? Where do these people come up with this stuff?”

  15. Kenneth,

    You have every right to censor people’s comments – as a matter of fact, I think you may even have a responsibility to do so to maintain a healthy environment.

    If you were a parent having an adult conversation and your kids were present – you would have a responsibility to teach them manners: not letting them interrupt, encouraging proper responses, and keeping the conversation running properly for others.

    If you were in a restaurant, you would have perfect reason to discipline your children if they were running around bothering other patrons.

    I don’t mind you keeping this blog orderly and mature, in the sense that these children who don’t know how to properly communicate are kept in line or even excluded from the conversation.

    We do have a right to free speech, but this is still your home and your conversation. You can do what you want!


  16. As you have explained beautifully, with much freedom comes much responsibility. My freedom ends where it begins to limit the freedom of others. I don’t have the right, for example, to enter your home and be disrespectful of you or your family (I wouldn’t do that anyway). I view my blog as my living room on the web. It’s my blog. I can say what I want there. Readers who want to contribute to the discussion in a way that is helpful are welcome to post comments there, but I’m not going to allow anything to be posted on my blog that I wouldn’t want in my living room. People are free to disagree with me, and to explain why they disagree with me. But they aren’t free to be disrespectful of me or of my other readers. If they want a place to freely express their own opinions, they can always start their own blog. 😉

  17. Hey Kenneth:

    You did what you needed to do to protect you. You did not violate anyone’s rights (but I’m sure you know this). Right. 😉 I thought the comments were funny. Not because I believed them. I thought they were funny because through your writings I have learn a bit about the man that publish truth as he sees it. I felt those that made the mean-spirited comments were lost in their big world of delusion. So thumbs-up for making a good choice for you. Sorry you must approve so many comments; but, again, thumbs-up for taking care of you! Oh and by the way, did I ever tell you I have a son name Kenneth?

  18. I see nothing wrong with your deleting comments.

    There’s legit freedom of speech, and then there is abusive, bully-like behavior. Just as we’d never advise a child to simply sit there and take it as some jerk called him nasty names and said untrue things about him, I don’t believe any blogger – no matter how passionate about free speech – should tolerate slander.

  19. Great post, Kenneth! It is unfortunate that the Freedom of Speech for some implies the freedom to say anything. Use your freedom to delete and moderate!

  20. There is not such a thing as bad words. Only wrong and bad use. Delete ahead Kenneth! After all it is only your blog! And maybe I am overstretching it, but fuck yeah! And I know I am not the first one to use this word in the blogsphere.

    By the way there is a tool that forbids the use of certain words in comments. I used to use it.

  21. It seems to me that there are certain subjects that people are very emotionally invested in, including religion, politics, sex, and money. There is power and control wrapped up in a lot of those subjects, and I think some people let that emotion turn dark if they perceive they are losing either that power or control. I think they become more bold when they think they can escape consequence– that perceived anonymity and physical separation on the Internet, as others here have alluded to.

    I have been stalked twice in my blogging experience, both on platforms that did NOT have as much moderation control as WordPress does. I had a few long stories typed out here about that, but thought it better to say simply that I have shied away from discussing the aforementioned subjects, because of the stalkings, and other negative experiences. Honestly, it’s been here at your blog that I’ve become more comfortable discussing such again. There’s a fine line between free speech and abuse, as has been said, and I think you’re well within your rights to moderate the discussion and allow respectful discourse to remain.

  22. I am very sorry that you received such inappropriate and slanderous comments! There is a responsibility that comes with freedom of speech. There is also just common decency and respect for other individuals and their points of view. I often tell my teenage boys that if they are respectful of others in a discussion, they will increase their ability to be understood as well as comprehending the other person’s point of view. If only we could all converse so civilly the world would be a better place. Thank you for your blog and for moderating comments when necessary. Such comments erode the quality of your work.

    • respect definitely needs to be taught when people are younger….I suspect its the ones who were never taught respect that grow up to be such disrespectful loons.

  23. My college student daughter told me they put up a big paper at the Student Union and said it was “Free Speech Day”. They could write whatever they wanted. She said she wrote “Hey our basketball team was so bad they lost to Harvard. Could we please spend the money so that tuition doesn’t go up. I need an education”.
    We REALLY know you don’t want to do it.

    • Good for her! I’ve often thought it was pretty odd how much money gets spent on college athletics….but I don’t even want to say any more on the topic cause it will turn into a pretty hefty rant

  24. I think you should know where I stand on this one. I too dedicated a post to talking about how the freedom of speech comes with responsibility. We probably agree about 95 percent of the time (minus coffee, soccer teams and maybe a few other details haha) but I feel like any disagreement that’s existed has always been discussed… not disrespectfully stated. I’ve always had my blog set to moderation because well partly because I just didn’t have it set any other way haha, but also because I know I’ll eventually get into hot topics and while I respect different points of view, etc., I also already deal with too much crap in the “real” world that I don’t feel I need to deal with trolls on the ‘net. People have a right to disagree but they don’t have a right to be abusive and I certainly have a right to not have to deal with it. I respect your sincere approach to giving people their right to free speech but I wouldn’t feel bad about finally drawing a line and not allowing slander (in this case it would probably actually be libel as it’s written but that’s a journalist for you to notice the detail haha). 🙂

  25. I had a builders forum for a few years. I deleted nobody as long as they agreed to engage in open argument with me, kept the name calling to a minimum and stuck on subject. I learned some, but mostly the guy ended up hanging himself on his own words. . . .

    Here in blogland I have not been too active, but I will try the same approach when the comments begin to appear. A minor note or two makes a good melody, but a constant dirge is a bummer . . .

    so I’m not yeahing or naying your decision . . . as it’s yours to make, but people ARE childish these days, look at Washington . . .

  26. Keeping one’s cool while under fire is neither easy nor fun.
    Agreeing to disagree is something both parties have to agree to…..there are some that are more likely to pull out both the howitzers and flamethrowers.

  27. I read your blog every day and I noticed that people were suddenly coming out of the woodwork to be really nasty. This is your blog. You have the right to be comfortable with it too. I fully support your having some control over your own site. Those people should be ashamed of themselves. There’s a way to communicate your feelings without being abusive. Too bad the internet lets a lot of people hide behind their computer screens.

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