Comment moderation or censorship?

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

It’s been a year since I founded In Brief Legal Writing Services and 10 months since I launched this site.

Based on some advice I got in the WordPress class I took in preparation for launching inbrieflegalwriting.com last fall, I initially decided not to allow readers to comment on my blog posts. At the time, I thought it would make my life easier. I have since realized that was a mistake.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Or was it?

While I welcome audience participation, moderating reader comments is not something I particularly enjoy. For one thing, it is time-consuming, and as a small business owner, time is a luxury I don’t always have. Secondly, because I firmly believe in freedom of speech, it creates a moral dilemma.

On one hand, the ability to moderate the comments made in this forum is essential. After all, this is a business site. My personal and professional reputation is at stake.

So make no mistake about it. Foul language and views expressed in anything less than a civil and professional manner simply cannot and will not be tolerated. If you use inappropriate language, engage in name-calling or any other vitriol so often found on the Internet these days, your comment will be relegated to the trash bin without a second thought. In fact, that is exactly what happened to a comment someone made earlier this week.

I won’t name the individual who felt compelled to leave a crude, sick, twisted and vicious comment in response to an old post, Don’t You Dare Feel Sorry for Brock Turner. However, I will say that the gist of the response was that Turner’s victim deserved to be sexually assaulted behind a dumpster.

Well here’s a newsflash: No one deserves to be sexually assaulted and left behind a dumpster. No one.

But getting back to the topic at hand, everyone is entitled to their opinion. And since this is the United States of America, everyone is allowed to express it. As a rule, I frown on any kind of censorship and welcome differing views. I encourage you — my readers — to engage in fierce debate with me and with each other. All I ask is that you remember that this is a professional forum and comment accordingly.

To paraphrase the old saying, “If you don’t have anything constructive to say, don’t say anything at all.”

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Censorship – alive and well

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“Censorship generally is the deletion of speech or any communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a body authorized to censor.”

– As defined on uslegal.com

A disturbing news report surfaced last week.

Apparently some Russian government-types have been burning some “undesirable” books.

Given the heinous and egregious nature of this conduct, I am sure the Russians would have been happy if this remained a closely guarded secret.  Unfortunately (for the alleged offenders) some American media outlets discovered and published accounts of this disgusting behavior.

I found out about it when goodreads.com shared a link to the post on Twitter. Ain’t social media grand?

At any rate, I banged off a snippy response, which was something to the effect of, “And this comes as a surprise?” Not surprisingly, that Tweet didn’t amount to much.

But in all honesty, I wasn’t surprised. Angry? Yes. Disgusted? Of course. Sickened? Absolutely. Flabbergasted, gob-smacked, astonished, taken aback? No. Not at all.

Of course government censorship is alive and well. Let’s face it. In Russia, where Vlad Putin does whatever he wants with impunity, it probably never died.   But what you may not realize – or simply refuse to admit –  is that censorship is practiced with alarming frequency right here in the good old USA.

The restrictions on freedom of expression to which I am referring go far beyond rules and regulations put in place to limit potential exposure to “offensive” material and to hold those who engage in hateful rhetoric accountable for their actions.

I am referring to the vast majority of the censorship that occurs in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, which  is condoned if not officially sanctioned by the politically correct crowd in the government and elsewhere. In an effort to combat the ignorant, misguided and hateful behavior of a vocal minority, the “polite police” are running amok.

Yes, some censorship is blatant. Some is passive-aggressive. Trust me. I speak from personal experience.

Book Cover, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey
Image courtesy of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency

You see, I am the award-winning author of what could be considered a somewhat controversial book. In my memoir, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey, I share how I met, fell in love with and married the man of my dreams. In vivid detail, I recount how I learned that he self-identified as and planned on having surgery to “become” a woman. I also share what happened after I learned the truth.

Some readers have loved my work. Some have hated it. Most have expressed their opinions in no uncertain terms — which is fine. I have very broad shoulders. There was only one occasion when I was truly insulted, and that was when a local library official told me they’d probably never shelf my book because readers here are “very conservative.”

I wonder what they’ll do if Caitlyn Jenner writes a book.