This election season has been a very long one. There is no arguing that. For those of us working in the campaign business, it’s been a lifetime and a half. On Tuesday, though, it all comes to a climax when the American people (or at least a portion of them) will go out and vote for many offices, ballot questions and referendums, upholding a 200+ year old tradition of democratic process in this country. It’s been a long process, for sure, one that in many ways is far too long, and so much effort is being put into making it even longer, with the way primaries are being pushed earlier and earlier. People are tired of it, tired of the ads, tired of the posturing on the news, tired of the name-calling, tired of the process as a whole, and are burnt out.
The other day on Facebook I posted a picture of someone dressed rather nerdy, with a comment that he might just be going in to see The Dark Knight Rises. One of my friends made a pretty tasteless joke referring to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. When she saw that, my wife was incensed at the post and was amazed I did not delete it. I know a lot of people would have done that. I didn’t even find it all that funny, but I left it up there, and other people commented on his remark as well.
I think I can count on one hand the number of comments I have deleted off of FB, or any of my blogs, and still have enough fingers left to play the bass line for “Crazy Train”. I just don’t do it, generally. I believe that people either write something for a reason and I should not delete them just because I disagree with them, or they posted something that might deserve some sort of public discussion or ridicule, as the case may be.
The main reason, though, is I just do not believe in that sort of thing on my page. If someone posts something or makes a comment, I would like to think people know I am not the one doing that, and I always reserve the right to disagree and argue. Obviously there are exceptions, something obscene, disgustingly racist or illegal will get the boot. But I really do believe that it’s not my job to save me from your opinions, or save you from yourself. I’ve said some really stupid things before, it happens.
It goes beyond that too, though. I honestly believe in the Wild West approach to the internet. While it’s really handy to be able to sit on a bench in a park, and order new shoes, a couple of pounds of bacon, and a groupon deal for podiatry, the real power of the internet is connecting people to ideas outside their own. Whatever anyone has to say, they have the ability to say it to potentially billions of people. This sort of interaction has proven to be an amazing tool, using the Arab Spring as a great example. Not that I am comparing my Facebook feed or this blog to any of that, but the point remains that whether it’s a goofy gamer nerd from Boston or a parts salesman in Islamabad, there is the ability to connect to everyone in a way never before seen.
Any and all information should be free and available. Not in the “screw copyright” sense, but freely accessible by anyone anywhere. This also includes the awful stuff too. White supremacists, anti-semites, Scientologists and Republicans all have a place on the internet, and it’s vitally important to a free and open society that they are out there. If they are pushed off to the dark corners where people cannot see them for what they are, that allows them to fester and become even worse, only coming to the surface when they become the next Ruby Ridge.
I truly believe there should be no censorship of the internet. Maybe I could be convinced that there needs to be some sort of filtering to keep kids from pornography, but I would rather that be taken care of by parents and responsible adults, instead of relying on censorship and institutionalized filters. Overall though, it’s important for anyone to have access to this sort of information system, but learn how to use it and know there are consequences for certain actions and opinions.
So given that stance, it would be very hypocritical of me to delete comments and posts made on my feed or sites. If people find things offensive, I apologize, but there is no freedom from being offended guaranteed anywhere. I don’t have many standards or principles, but this is definitely one of them.