Public Censorship And Private Speech

Law

If you want to stand in my living room and shout about how the Inuit control alpaca production through a conspiracy with hip-hop record labels, and I think you're a demented freak and ask you to leave, most people probably won't say I'm censoring you. Most people recognize that I am not the government, and most people realize that I have my own rights in my living room — including rights of free expression (which allow me to determine what message gets broadcast from my living room) and even property rights 1 to control my own home.

People get fuzzier on this concept when it's a business that doesn't want to provide you with a living room in which to spout your theories. Maybe it's because people incorrectly conflate big, seemingly impersonal entities, whether they are public or private. Maybe it's anti-Citizens-United sentiment that businesses don't have rights and therefore have no right to object to you using their living rooms as a platform to trash-talk the Inuit.

But I put it to you: when a business doesn't want to give you a platform for your message, that's only "censorship" in the most weak-tea sort of way; it's only "censorship" in the sense that it is censorship for me to kick your nutter ass out of my living room because you're frightening the kids and embarrassing me in front of the neighbors.

This week there was a tempest in a Twitter when folks discovered that Kickstarter was hosting a campaign for a "pickup artist" book called "Above the Game" by a guy named Ken Hoinsky. Maybe you're fortunate enough not to be familiar with the PUA genre. Remember the guys who wrote guides about how to win at Mortal Kombat? Imagine they wrote a guide to interacting with women. "If she smiles, then UP UP B B RIGHT RIGHT UP B," where 'B' is 'be a total douche.'" Look, there's nothing wrong with wandering around wanting to get laid; it's the human condition. But there are ways to make it even less dignified than usual, and one way is to approach the prospect of sex like it's the secret cow level on Diablo, where the person you are facing has defenses you need to overcome before you can nail them.

Anyway, some folks pointed out that Ken Hoinksy, like a lot of PUAs and their fans, had some thoroughly creepifying ideas about human interactions. People expressed revulsion to Kickstarter that they were providing a platform. Kickstarter let the book's campaign complete, but today apologized, made a donation to an anti-abuse charity, and decided that they aren't going to host PUA stuff any more:

Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.

You can just imagine how this is going to play. It's cropping up on the Kickstarter comments already:

I can't believe you guys just laid down and took this abuse from the man-hating organizations who see everything as rape. I'm disgusted by your decision.

Your comment that seduction guide encourage "misogynistic" behavior is also incredibly offensive and sexist. How about you treat things equally between the sexes rather than immediately use terminology and words that place men in the immediate spot of wrongdoing? Kickstart, you're disgusting and I'm done with you.

Author Handsy McCrawlspace is also claiming he's been terribly wronged.

I am fatigued at the thought of all the "the feminazi wimmenz are censoring us!" rhetoric this will engender.

Look: if anyone wants the government to punish people for publishing PUA dreck, I'll be the first to seek pro bono counsel for the defendants. If anyone wants to pass laws banning the sale of this sad and creepy shit, I'll fight them. If anyone wants to sue PUAs on some half-assed theory that they are responsible for what demented individuals do, I'll contest it.

But if a private company, seeking to develop its own brand, decides it doesn't want to carry pickup artist manuals, that's their free speech, and it's just as legitimate as mine. I don't want to invite a pickup artist to my living room to give a talk to my friends because I think they're ridiculous and repulsive. That's my right. Kickstarter has decided they don't want to host PUA manuals. That's their right. Is Kickstarter motivated in part by money — by a calculated decision that their target audience is more creeped out than enthused by PUAs? Well I certainly hope so; they are a business. That's their right. Don't like it? Don't support Kickstarter, and try to convince others not to support Kickstarter. Is the decision inconsistent with some Kickstarter claim to openness and neutrality? Call them out on it. Look for another platform that takes all campaigns without regard to content, and do your part to help that platform succeed, instead. (Assuming, of course, that you really mean it — assuming that you really think that businesses should be viewpoint-neutral, and there's no campaign that would get you upset at Kickstarter.)

But if you decry it as "censorship," you are weakening the term. You're using it to mean "this non-governmental actor is not exercising its rights the way I would in their place." You're helping to promote ignorance about rights and blurring the line between public and private. If you're calling it censorship, let me ask you: may I come over to your house at a time convenient to me and stand in your living room and explain why you're wrong in a sonorous and condescending voice? If not, why not? You censor.

[ Clark note: I agree with Ken's last paragraph and disagree with the rest. I'll write a post within a week or so rather than clutter up the comments. ]

  1. Note to progressives: booga booga booga!  

Last 5 posts by Ken White

232 Comments

231 Comments

  1. whheydt  •  Jun 21, 2013 @9:56 am

    Similarly, I have always liked the line, "Freedom of the Press does not mean YOUR freedom of MY press."

  2. Lizard  •  Jun 21, 2013 @9:56 am

    I can't disagree with anything you said, nor would I want to. I am, however, looking forward to the invasion of the paste-eaters.

  3. Burnside  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:03 am

    Considering some of the terrifying stuff on Kickstarter, this one seems rather tame in comparison. Now, I'm not saying that Kickstarter is wrong in their decision, just that they're just taking out one needle in a haystack full of them.

  4. Shaun  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:09 am

    There is no cow level, there is only Zuul.

  5. adam  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:11 am

    well, here's everyone's chance to claim kickstarterpua.com.

  6. Blah  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:17 am

    I think this was all part of Kickstarter's NLP scheme, they're just dropping some sick negs on the PUA scenesters to get in on some of that 9HB action.

    (For the sake of your own sanity please don't look up what any of the above terms mean, you'll just end up as much of a cynical misanthropic bastard as I am. The things I wish I could unsee….)

  7. Craig  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:18 am

    You're right that this is not censorship in a legal sense, and in general I support the idea that businesses should be free to make their own decisions based on their sense of their own self-interest. However, so many of the forums available to us these days are controlled by private entities (Facebook, Twitter, blog sites, comment sections, etc.) that there is cause for concern that our right to freedom of speech is effectively limited by what these entities choose to allow. I may have the theoretical right to speak publicly on various issues, but if the media that would allow me to reach a larger audience than I could reach by standing up in a local public park refuse to allow me to say what I want, then in effect my right to speak doesn't mean much.

    In this case, PUAs sound pretty tacky and the fellow in question sounds like a swine (judging just from the account posted here), but since the thing he's trying to raise funds for isn't actually illegal, it bothers me to see that he is effectively being denied access to an important forum that could allow him to finance his project. This week it's PUA; next week it could be your project that someone decides "does not belong on Kickstarter." While complaints about "censorship" miss the mark in a legalistic sense, the concern about private entities controlling important media is legitimate.

  8. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:23 am

    Craig:

    However, so many of the forums available to us these days are controlled by private entities (Facebook, Twitter, blog sites, comment sections, etc.) that there is cause for concern that our right to freedom of speech is effectively limited by what these entities choose to allow. I may have the theoretical right to speak publicly on various issues, but if the media that would allow me to reach a larger audience than I could reach by standing up in a local public park refuse to allow me to say what I want, then in effect my right to speak doesn't mean much.

    I have to ask: compared to what? Do you have less ability to speak your mind to large numbers of people than you did before the Internet, or more? Has the internet reduced freedom of expression, or enhanced it?

  9. Kellen  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:24 am

    McCreeper forgot rule #1.

  10. Michael Donnelly  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:25 am

    Government controlling speech = censorship.

    Business controlling speech = business decision with market consequences.

    Seems pretty cut and dry to me. If Kickstarter exerts too much editorial influence over the projects they manage, then a competitor will appear and take up that market share. If not, then the "wronged" folks can fuck right off.

    The sad thing is that today's environment of competition-through-litigation (and lawmaking) has made many people lose track of how competition and market forces are supposed to work. Instead of "I will take my business to your competitor", it's "I've been wronged and here's why". Of course, many times there is no competitor to take the business to…

    Sad, sad state of affairs these days for our "open" market and government.

  11. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:30 am

    But I put it to you: when a business doesn't want to give you a platform for your message, that's only "censorship" in the most weak-tea sort of way; it's only "censorship" in the sense that it is censorship for me to kick your nutter ass out of my living room because you're frightening the kids and embarrassing me in front of the neighbors.

    On behalf of the paste eaters, let me begin with this. I have read a number of posts where you use the "living room" analogy to refer a set of rights and expectations that you have regarding the conduct of visitors to your site – fair enough. But when you apply this same analogy to excuse for-profit businesses, I think you have gone too far. In all of most of these instances, the censorship comes as acquiescence to coercive pressure from some outside agency, such as the Women's Media Center.

    And while you are right that it's a mistake to confuse this type of "private" censorship with government censorship, it censorship nonetheless. I believe that a case can definitely be made that this type of censorship is just as damaging, but I won't go into that here. Instead let me pose these questions. When does the action of a private organization to suppress speech it doesn't like become objectionable?

    If it's not Facebook censoring images that may be misogynistic, if it's not Kickstarter banning all PUA content, is it when they kick you off a jet because you're wearing a political T-shirt? Is it is a family restaurant when a group of homosexuals are just a little too open about who they are? Is it on a private college campus when you express any idea that someone else with the power to censor finds really objectionable?

    It seems to me that if we are going to give a free pass to some while holding others feet to fire it has to be based on more than the "living room" rubric.

  12. Jay  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:31 am

    Craig:
    The crux of your complaint essentially is: to be denied a medium (owned by a private party) that would allow you to reach a larger audience than on your own is dangerous censorship (or a slippery slope towards censorship).

    Do you have a right for the newspaper to publish whatever letter you send to them?

    Do you have a right to show up at your local TV news studio and be broadcast?

  13. Tim  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:35 am

    Dickstarter?

  14. Michael Donnelly  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:35 am

    naught_for_naught:

    Have you considered the other party's perspective in that matter? That is, who gets to decide what Kickstarter will and will not publish? If you consider a bit of hyperbole, what if I want to kickstart a book about how to use mirrors on your shoes to take pictures under skirts? Or start a revenge porn website?

    Somebody has to make the rules on what Kickstarter will or will not take. Who makes those rules?

    Kickstarter or the government? I kinda like the former.

  15. ShelbyC  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:39 am

    So, for example, usages like "self-censorship" weaken the term? ISTM we can approprately use the term "censorship" to apply to the actions of private parties. If, for example, facebook chose to delete posts supporting a tax increase, I don't think it would be wrong to say facebook was "censoring" those posts. What is important is that we understand the substantive difference between censorship by private parties, and censorship by the government.

  16. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:39 am

    Jeez, I wish I could edit my post.

    Do you have a right for the newspaper to publish whatever letter you send to them?

    Do you have a right to show up at your local TV news studio and be broadcast?

    This is one of the more common tactics used to tell the censored to shut up and like it. A newspaper is not analogous. A newspaper is built on a business model that encourages users to open up an information space and then restrict what you say because of pressure from special interests. Same goes for TV.

  17. Clark  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:41 am

    @Blah:

    I think this was all part of Kickstarter's NLP scheme, they're just dropping some sick negs on the PUA scenesters to get in on some of that 9HB action.

    LOL! Masterfully done.

    To tie this back to the Ideological Turing Test post, you pass with flying colors.

  18. anne mouse  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:43 am

    I never knew until today that "censorship" connoted a government actor in American English. That's certainly not the case in a couple of the languages descended from Latin, and I don't think it's the case in English English either. There are, or at least were, censors in religious institutions and in private schools, for example.

    I think it's silly to restrict a perfectly good verb (or job description) to a particular kind of actor, but if we must, then we need a new verb for "censorship by a non-government actor."

  19. Jonathan McLeod  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:46 am

    Ken, you're right that this isn't censorship, but who said it was? The angry comments you quote are saying that what Kickstarter is doing is wrong, and complaining that it just rolled over. That's different than saying it's censorship.

    Even the thumbsucker response by the author doesn't claim censorship. He just says his feelings were unfairly hurt.

    Maybe my reading comprehension is compromised this sunny Friday afternoon (quite possibly) or maybe this post is a preemptive strike, but it seems your responding to objections that weren't made.

  20. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:49 am

    @anne:

    Is it censorship for me to ask the Inuit-shouter to leave my living room?

  21. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:51 am

    My aphasia is killing me today, so I'm just going to lay off. But here are some corrections and one last response:

    1. Is it in a family restaurant when a group of homosexuals are expelled just a little too open about who they are?

    2.A newspaper is not built on a business model that encourages users to open up an information space and then restrict what you say because of pressure from special interests.

    @Michael Donnelly

    Yes, I understand the challenges facing the business. But my question still stands, when is it okay for a private firm to suppress speech? This case in particular bothers me because you are talking about an entire genre, if you will, when you say no more PUA pubs. I can think of a dozen ways to write this type of book where it wouldn't be offensive.

    Alright, I'm going to eat paste now.

  22. mcinsand  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:52 am

    A pair of examples involves The Dixie Chicks and Hank Williams Junior. Country (and I **refuse** to follow the word ‘country’ with ‘music) fans on the right were outraged when the Dixie Chicks made anti-Bush remarks, and a good number that I know were screaming to have the group muzzled. If there are any country fans on the left, I’m sure they were cheering the group further. Then, several years later, they were claiming that the NFL had violated the First Amendment for letting Hank Williams Junior go after he made anti-Obama comments. I have no doubt that, in our celebrity-worshiping society, many do see the NFL, NBA, CBS, NBC, … as additional government branches, but they are not (yet) legally so. They have rights to make decisions that might affect business growth, and stockholders might even sue if some of those decisions are too questionable.

    (As for the cow level, thank you for bringing up some very good memories. Diablo, especially with the Hellfire expansion pack, is still my gold standard for video games.)

  23. delurking  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:55 am

    Ken,
    Yes, you are allowed to be a censor in your own house.

  24. Pat  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:55 am

    That's easy – Never.

  25. Pat  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:56 am

    Boy, sure jacked that one up. Let's try again:

    "Instead let me pose these questions. When does the action of a private organization to suppress speech it doesn't like become objectionable?"

    That's easy – Never.

  26. Craig  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:00 am

    I have to ask: compared to what? Do you have less ability to speak your mind to large numbers of people than you did before the Internet, or more? Has the internet reduced freedom of expression, or enhanced it?

    It's done both, in a way, and it isn't the first time this has happened; radio and TV had a similar effect, in some ways even worse because of the limited number of stations in any given area, which imposed a natural and rather low limit on the number of people who could speak through them on any given day.

    Back in the days when "free speech" meant your ability to stand up in public and speak out loud (because no other technology existed for real-time communication to an audience), everyone's freedom of speech was more or less equal. But as new communication media have developed, they have tended to be controlled by private entities. This makes some voices (those considered palatable by those entities) much, much louder than others; when it comes to national debate on some issue, those voices not allowed to speak through the national media might as well have been silenced. The fact that it is a private entity (rather than the government) making the decision to restrict your speech is significant in a legal sense, but in the end your speech is restricted just the same.

    With regard to radio and TV, the government has recognized this problem to some extent, and attempted to deal with it (not entirely successfully) with rules about fairness, rules about giving political candidates access, etc. No such rules exist for Internet media, but the essential problem exists there too.

  27. perlhaqr  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:00 am

    Adam: "pickstarter.com", clearly. :D

  28. perlhaqr  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:06 am

    Damn, I should have read all the comments first, because Tim blew me out of the water with "Dickstarter". :(

  29. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:07 am

    @Pat
    So private colleges are fine in limiting speech of students? Privately owned businesses that supply transportation, retail services or amusements are fine if they the restrain speech of their paying customers. That doesn't merit criticism?

  30. Jose Fish Taco  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:11 am

    Could someone please censor Clark from doing a followup post?

  31. En Passant  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:12 am

    Craig wrote Jun 21, 2013 @10:18 am:

    While complaints about "censorship" miss the mark in a legalistic sense, the concern about private entities controlling important media is legitimate.

    That concern about the internet conflates brand with medium.

    The Internet medium is not limited by available spectrum, as broadcast TV and radio are. Anybody willing to buy internet bandwidth will find a willing seller at some price, and no bandwidth provider can effectively silence another as by a powerful radio transmitter interfering with broadcast from a less powerful transmitter.

    Yes, some brand of media, say Brand X, can buy lots of bandwidth and provide content that lots of people want to see, hear and interact with, while Brand Y may provide less. But Brand X has not interfered with or "crowded out" Brand Y.

    Brand X is not controlling the medium. Anybody who wants can still see, hear or interact with Brand Y.

    Brand Y is free to buy more bandwidth, provide more attractive content, or otherwise attract eyes and ears from Brand X.

    Anybody is free to become Brand Y and compete with Brand X.

    Anybody.

    As Arlo Guthrie said:

    … You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him.

    And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.

    And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization.

    And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out.

    And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

  32. jmd  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:12 am

    I co-sign Clark's addendum and am confused by tone of this article. Sure, mainstream PUA stuff is pretty lame, but so is "chicken soup for the [X] soul" stuff – it's all the same commercialized self-help/self-actualization crap. Although, in my observation, the PUA stuff is transitional and CAN help people become interesting/successful (see, e.g., Roosh V). I readily admit that finding Roissy's old blog – which is not commercial PUA material, but judging from this post would draw heaps of Popehat scorn – during its prime played a role in making my life much better: better looking women; more gratifying "relationships" with them; more self-actualization, period. I don't dispute that the poofy hat PUA culture is odd and mockable, but it's no odder than (and is something of an applied-science offshoot of) Dungeons and Dragons or other harmless roleplaying games that measure progress with indecipherable acronyms and numbers.

    I also agree that this isn't censorship. Given that the guy was able to keep his money, I don't even really see what the hubub is about. He could still get PayPal to process for him and solicit donations on his website.

  33. perlhaqr  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:17 am

    Hrm… An argument based on the idea that, given that the government has made starting a business so onerous, when a business refuses to serve a given customer base, the option to simply "go start their own business" is not viable?

    Perhaps even, that by imposing so many regulations on businesses, they aren't actually private entities anymore, but have in effect been de facto nationalised?

    :D

    And while I throw out that Devil's Advocacy, I'll throw out the one for the other side as well, to Naught for Naught: That's unpleasant, but being private companies, they should have the right to be as purely discriminatory as they want.

    A recent example: I was in New Zealand for most of May. My wife and I stayed in a little B&B in Whangarei our first night in country. About two weeks later, we heard a news story on the radio about how the owners of that very B&B had been found to have been discriminatory against a lesbian couple that had booked reservations there. My wife and I were both very disappointed that the B&B had not openly advertised their homosexual dislike, because it would have allowed us, as customers, to spend our vacation dollars elsewhere.

    In the end, Applebee's (or whoever) having a very open "No Fags" policy means I can know not to spend any money there.

    And while we're on this side of the Devil's Advocacy, Ken: Would you likewise have made the same post if Kickstarter had said they weren't going to crowdfund any more projects from black people?

    (To be clear, I'm a crazypants anarchocapitalist, so I'd vigorously defend their right to do such a thing, and burn my brain out over the next few weeks starting a competing crowdfunding business to take up their lost revenue.)

  34. perlhaqr  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:21 am

    I'm also looking forward to wasting hours of my life in Clark's rebuttal post comments next week. ;)

  35. Erwin  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:23 am

    …yes you can censor in your own house…and businesses can censor too.
    …but…
    …eventually, newspapers will die. And online assemblies/blogs/forums will vastly dominate communication. And, owing to economies of scale and market forces, there will be a tendency towards consolidation.
    …and…owing to legal liability and majority pressure, there will be a tendency to censor minority viewpoints.

    …my first question is whether or not dominant forums, when they arise, should be allowed to censor. There is precedent in terms of governmental intervention in newspaper ownership for not allowing communication dissemination to be dominated by single outlets. Which might, actually, be a better way to go about things than regulating censorship. OTOH, at the moment, there's plenty of places to post crazy stuff on the internet and have people see them. Still, I think it is reasonable to worry about potential negative effects on discourse arising from private censorship. Personally, I suspect that the chilling effect is probably stronger than that of governmental censorship in the US.

    …my second question is…what the heck does that post translate to…?? Kinda got it stuck in my head and the google isn't helping.
    I'm getting:
    I think this was all part of Kickstarter's NLP(neurolinguistic programming) scheme, they're just dropping some sick negs(negations) on the PUA(pickup artist) scenesters (people immersed in a particular culture) to get in on some of that 9HB (????? hot babe?) action.

    –Erwin

  36. Dylan  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:29 am

    @Pat:

    Let's say the Koch Foundation buys out every newspaper in the USA and replaces the editorial staff with the first pizza delivery guys they can find who share their views, and refuses to publish anything they don't like.

    Or perhaps, let us hypothesize a situation in which Apple (a company I like, by the way) uses their considerable cash pile for lobbying, pressuring Congress to impose restrictions on their competitors' advertising.

    These are not objectionable scenarios, correct?

  37. Francis  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:35 am

    naught-for-naught:

    [Based on laws I last looked at over 10 years ago.] Here in California, common carriers and places of public accommodation are more heavily regulated than private households in their ability to censor the speech and conduct of their invitees. If you're going to welcome the public in the door, you can't start discriminating arbitrarily.

    So, is Kickstarter an internet hotel where everyone's welcome? Or is it an internet venture capitalist conference room, where your invitation is revocable without notice?

  38. Michael  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:40 am

    People seem to forget that the First Amendment applies to the government creating law that restrict the press, speech and religion.
    Nothing more. Your personal rights beyond that have to fall into the spaces between everyone else's rights. Which means, you can stand on a public corner, or a park or what ever public view and speak your peace. It doesn't mean you can speak your mind in private home or business if they, the owners of said place, don't want that type of speech. You are infringing on their rights at that point.

    If you don't like that some company, website comments, blog, Facebook won't let you say what you want. Start your own or find one that will, that's the joy of a free market.

  39. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:42 am

    @Dylan:

    Let's say the Koch Foundation buys out every newspaper in the USA and replaces the editorial staff with the first pizza delivery guys they can find who share their views, and refuses to publish anything they don't like.

    The hidden argument behind the monopoly parade-of-horribles is this: maybe companies shouldn't have the right to decide which expression they support through their business, because if there were a monopoly then it would be hard to broadcast speech the monopoly didn't like. But why do you have a right to a private broadcasting or publishing medium, if they don't want to do business with you? Why does Kickstarter have to support speech it doesn't like — speech that costs it business — to ward off that hypothetical future?

    Or perhaps, let us hypothesize a situation in which Apple (a company I like, by the way) uses their considerable cash pile for lobbying, pressuring Congress to impose restrictions on their competitors' advertising.

    In that scenario, you cross from private speech (Apple's lobbying) to public censorship (the resulting laws). The public censorship is subject to First Amendment analysis.

  40. Kilroy  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:43 am

    Ken seems to be using the generic word censorship to mean only government censorship. It is still censoring to shut up the person in your living room, it just isn't illegal. There are also times when the government can legally censor someone, say yelling fire in a … (just kidding). I don't hear anyone saying that Kickstarter can't inact this policy, but it is correct to identify it as censorship.

    That being said, I'm glad this will also prevent all those annoying "how to land your man" and "finding mr. right" books.

  41. Michael Yuri  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:44 am

    Two questions for Ken:

    FIRE litigates against private colleges and universities that violate the free speech rights of students or faculty members. The legal hook is that most private colleges publicly represent that they value and protect free speech (for example, in promotional materials or student handbooks). FIRE explicitly recognizes that its usual free speech legal theories have no application against the very small number of schools that expressly and plainly impose limitations on acceptable speech.

    With that in mind, here's a hypothetical:

    Suppose, to avoid future FIRE litigation, all of America's private colleges agree to adopt a new policy under which they scrub their public statements of any references to free speech, and prominently adopt language stating that "the university retains an absolute right to limit student expression in any way it deems appropriate to improve the educational or social environment of the school."

    Two questions:

    1. Terminology: Which of these press releases better describes the new policy: "Censorship Eliminated in America's Private College's" or "The End of Free Speech on College Campuses"?

    2. Policy: Should people who care about the culture and norms of free speech be at all concerned about this new policy?

  42. Dave Ruddell  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:50 am

    Regarding pick-up artists, I would highly recommend reading The Game for some insights into that community. It's a fascinating read, that will likely leave you feeling sorry for these sad sacks. Whenever Courtney Love becomes the voice of reason in your circle of friends, you know something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

    "So private colleges are fine in limiting speech of students?"

    Absolutely. You'll notice that FIRE agrees with this idea, so long as they don't promise their student free speech in the first place.

  43. Michael Yuri  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:52 am

    I posted my hypothetical before I saw Ken's monopoly parade of horribles comment, but the hypothetical applies just as well if we're talking about a single college changing its policies.

  44. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:56 am

    @Francis

    It seems to me that you are making a legal argument while sidestepping the principles involved. Certainly, Kickstarter has the legal right to refuse service, but that's not the question I'm asking.

    What I'm asking is when does censorship merit criticism? Maybe my inference is wrong, but Ken's original argument seems to have two parts: He argues rightly that it's a mistake to confuse government censorship and private censorship. Second, he seems to pardon all nongovernmental entities that censor based on the "living room" argument. I think this analogy has limited application and is applied too broadly.

  45. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:03 pm

    @Michael:

    FIRE litigates against private colleges and universities that violate the free speech rights of students or faculty members. The legal hook is that most private colleges publicly represent that they value and protect free speech (for example, in promotional materials or student handbooks). FIRE explicitly recognizes that its usual free speech legal theories have no application against the very small number of schools that expressly and plainly impose limitations on acceptable speech.

    I know FIRE criticizes such schools; I don't recall that FIRE litigates against them on some sort of breach-of-contract or fraud theory. Do you have a case in mind?

    Suppose, to avoid future FIRE litigation, all of America's private colleges agree to adopt a new policy under which they scrub their public statements of any references to free speech, and prominently adopt language stating that "the university retains an absolute right to limit student expression in any way it deems appropriate to improve the educational or social environment of the school."

    Challenge accepted.

    Two questions:

    1. Terminology: Which of these press releases better describes the new policy: "Censorship Eliminated in America's Private College's" or "The End of Free Speech on College Campuses"?

    2. Policy: Should people who care about the culture and norms of free speech be at all concerned about this new policy?

    1. I understand you are trying to make a point about the breadth of the word "censorship," but I don't understand how the first press release makes sense, unless you're talking about something like Leonard's Law.

    2. Certainly it makes sense to be concerned. Private universities are cultural institutions that serve a role different than private living rooms or private business. I'd have no problem with people agitating to convince the private universities to make a different decision. I'd urge them to use accurate language that doesn't confuse the issue — for instance, it's not a First Amendment violation — but I'd have no problem arguing that the new rule is fundamentally inconsistent with what a decent university, public or private, is supposed to be. (That's why I'd never attend, or want to attend, a private university that has such a policy, even if it happened to match my particular religious bent.)

    On the other hand, I'd almost prefer that private universities be honest and open, like this, to provoke a dialogue about what sort of rules good private universities should have, rather than skulk about. Kickstarter is being completely open: "No PUA shit here." I tend to like that better than vague policies.

  46. Lizard  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:05 pm

    "When does the action of a private organization to suppress speech it doesn't like become objectionable?"

    When it suppresses speech you don't want it to suppress. Duh.

    Then you boycott it. Then you tell other people, "Hey, Company X is not allowing the publication of Y! What's up with that?" And people say, "Shit, that's lame. Let's take our business to Company Z, instead!"

    Or, maybe, they say, "Good. Why should they support Y? I hate Y!"

    Or, maybe, they say, "Meh. I don't care. I kind of like Y, but X does so many things better, I'm not going to switch over it. Whatevs."

    This isn't hard. This isn't a deep question with fine distinctions and difficult edge cases. In a world of blurry greys and shady borders, it's nice to have a couple of simple absolutes left.

    You have EVERY right to object, loudly and strenuously, to any corporate policy you don't like, and to organize and encourage boycotts, protests, and campaigns to get them to change it, or campaigns to support competitors if they don't. But if you call it censorship, you are using the wrong word.

    (Amazon is constantly getting ping-ponged between writers of erotica, which generates a lot of revenue, and "family values" types, who don't want people "accidentally" finding erotica when they type in such innocent keywords as "dominatrix leather whips chains". One group raises a ruckus, and Amazon stops hiding the smut. Then another group raises a ruckus, and they start hiding it again. Back and forth.)

  47. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:07 pm

    @naught:

    What I'm asking is when does censorship merit criticism? Maybe my inference is wrong, but Ken's original argument seems to have two parts: He argues rightly that it's a mistake to confuse government censorship and private censorship. Second, he seems to pardon all nongovernmental entities that censor based on the "living room" argument. I think this analogy has limited application and is applied too broadly.

    Nothing is above criticism. But inaccurate or misleading criticism should itself be criticized.

    One of my fundamental concerns about the public/private split is the danger of creating new imagined "rights" that limit my rights. The imagined "right" to be free of offense necessarily limits my right to speak. The imagined "right" to speak in my living room limits my freedom — it limits my speech rights by making me an involuntary backer of speech I despise, and limits my freedom of property.

    If Kickstarter is imagined to have some sort of obligation to be a platform for speech that its management finds unpleasant — or that it thinks will lose it business — then Kickstarter has less freedom.

  48. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:08 pm

    @Ken

    Why does Kickstarter have to support speech it doesn't like — speech that costs it business — to ward off that hypothetical future?

    This would be a great question, if in fact it was Kickstarter initiating the action, but it wasn't. It was an outside group coercing them into the action.

    The Women's Media Center wants to petition the FCC to ban Rush Limbaugh from the radio. Would it only be wrong to succumb to their demands because the FCC is a government agency. Would it be less objectionable if they convinced station owners to drop him?

  49. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:11 pm

    My last comment jumped your response, Ken. I see how your logic applies to the Rush question.

  50. Matthew  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:11 pm

    I guess it is a lot easier to pretend the holders of the opposing viewpoint "don't get it" than to consider whether this is an appropriate way to accomplish private social engineering. Kickstarter has essentially said that it will not allow its vast userbase to be milked by certain kinds of scam artists/bigots but not others. 1. I am skeptical that Kickstarter's arbitrary policy change will have any meaningfuleffect on rape culture, misogyny, etc. 2. This sets a dangerous precedent for these formerly-democratizing institutions to police the marketplace and only allow those projects that receive the Kickstarter blessing. The company is certainly within its rights to do so, but overall, it will be a net negative for society.

  51. Renee Marie Jones  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:12 pm

    There is a big difference between a communications carrier that provides its services to the general public and conversations taking place in your living room.

  52. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:13 pm

    When it suppresses speech you don't want it to suppress. Duh.

    Absolutely. I'm only a fascist when you say something I don't like.

  53. AZMos  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:14 pm

    "Businesses shall make no rules disrespecting my religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof on their property; or abridging my freedom of speech, or of my press; or the right of my people peaceably to assemble on their property, and to petition the business for a refund."

  54. Lizard  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:18 pm

    It was an outside group coercing them into the action.

    Coercing them… how? By threatening to not spend money there? By criticizing them, and asking other people to join in the criticism?

    That word you use, I don't think it means what you think it means.

    Would it be less objectionable if they convinced station owners to drop him?

    Whether it's objectionable or not depends on if you like Rush Limbaugh or not. If they convince a private radio station not to carry a given program, whether it's by convincing advertisers not to support them or by highlighting whatever statements of Rush they find objectionable and asking the station owner if he wants to be associated with them, or both, that's their right. If you like Rush and DON'T want the station to take him off the air, YOU organize a counter movement. Find advertisers who will pledge their support. Convince the station owner that Rush is right. Show the station owner how dismal the ratings of other talk shows are and point out the people petitioning him probably aren't customers anyway — they're as relevant to his bottom line as vegans are to McDonalds.

    On the other hand, asking the FCC to do it IS censorship, and should be objected to no matter what your politics or opinion of Mr. Limbaugh.

  55. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:18 pm

    @Matthew:

    This sets a dangerous precedent for these formerly-democratizing institutions to police the marketplace and only allow those projects that receive the Kickstarter blessing. The company is certainly within its rights to do so, but overall, it will be a net negative for society.

    Entities like Kickstarter are only "democratizing" in the macro, not the micro. It's a confusion of public and private to think otherwise. If 95% of the people who send them emails hate something, but 55% of their customers like it, they will go with 55% of their customers — unless they are willing to assign personal value to the decision that offsets the customers.

  56. Michael Yuri  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:23 pm

    I know FIRE criticizes such schools; I don't recall that FIRE litigates against them on some sort of breach-of-contract or fraud theory. Do you have a case in mind?

    See, here, for example:

    "The overwhelming majority of private colleges represent themselves as citadels of freedom, free expression, academic freedom, debate, and candor. Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Brandeis, and virtually all the rest of our nation's most prestigious universities make extensive promises of free speech in their promotional literature, in their handbooks, in their contracts with professors, and in their presentations to prospective students, donors, and alumni. Many colleges have raised literally billions of dollars and attracted the best and brightest students by presenting themselves as epicenters of open discourse and discussion. It is therefore fraud of the highest order for these schools to induce students to attend based on promises of the utmost freedom and then deliver repression, censorship, and viewpoint discrimination. The Constitution protects the right of freedom of association. It does not protect the right to defraud, lie, fraudulently induce, and otherwise misrepresent an institution in order to trick people into sending their children, attending, or donating to a college. That's why FIRE battles with private colleges that promise freedom of speech and then deliver censorship."

  57. Chris  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:23 pm

    There's a bit of semantic quibbling over whether "censorship" is a good verb for "a nongovernmental entity restraining speech". That's largely beside the point, though. We don't have a good word for "NGO Speech Restraint", so I call it all censorship.

    Not all censorship is bad, obviously. In my opinion, though, the amount of censorship that society should tolerate is related to how much power the censor has. The government has a monopoly on violence, so it is unacceptable (as codified in the American Constitution) for the government to censor at all. (Not everyone agrees on this point. I'm told that German citizens in general don't feel oppressed by not being able to speak Nazi propaganda.)

    On the other end of the scale, your living room is a very small place. You have comparatively little power, so it is more acceptable for you to censor certain things.

    Somewhere in the middle lies the people who own the large public gathering places of the Internet. People mostly think that Facebook should be able to say "This is a porn-free zone." People mostly think that Facebook shouldn't be able to say, "This is a black-people free zone." Somewhere in the middle are probably, "This is a tastefully-photographed-naked-people-free zone," and "This is a cryptography-research-free zone".

    The problem is really that there are almost no genuinely public places on the internet. Your website is most analogous to a private building or home. If you want people to go to your website, you'll need to talk about it in public fora, either personally, in messages, or impersonally, with ads. In real life, there are large swathes of public space that is government controlled. (And therefore free from censorship.)

    If your chosen message is unpopular, there exists the real possibility that you will be barred from the public places of the internet.

    Of course, we don't have a good rule for where the line should be that requires you to submit your property rights to the speech rights of others. So, in the interest of freedom, we let property rights trump. It's a pretty good heuristic that produces pretty good results.

    But it is still objectionable when entities with effective monopolies on certain public fora engage in certain kinds of censorship. And people should object when it happens. (They probably shouldn't demand government violence against those people, though.)

  58. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:24 pm

    @naught:

    This would be a great question, if in fact it was Kickstarter initiating the action, but it wasn't. It was an outside group coercing them into the action.

    This is a perfect example of how creating new rights can actually wind up reducing rights.

    Does Kickstarter have a right not to be "coerced?" Does that mean that people deciding to boycott Kickstarter, or people deciding to send it emails, or people deciding to write blog posts criticizing it, don't have a complete right to do so?

    What makes consumer choice or consumer speech "coercion?" Are all boycotts or criticism campaigns coercive?

    What makes something "coercion," as opposed to bringing it to a company's or individual's attention? If someone criticizes me for something I've said here, and I rethink it, and decide I was wrong, is that coercion? If I say something that I didn't realize was offensive, and decide to apologize because it is brought to my attention, was that coercion?

    If someone says they don't want to do business with Kickstarter any more because they made this decision about PUAs, is that coercion?

    The Women's Media Center wants to petition the FCC to ban Rush Limbaugh from the radio. Would it only be wrong to succumb to their demands because the FCC is a government agency. Would it be less objectionable if they convinced station owners to drop him?

    Yes, because private station owners are not the government. It would definitely be less objectionable. Similarly, if you convinced the government to jail people for using racial invective in blog posts, that would be far more objectionable to ask me to consider kicking out a co-blogger who used racial invective in blog posts.

    The Women's Media Center wants to petition the FCC to ban Rush Limbaugh from the radio. Would it only be wrong to succumb to their demands because the FCC is a government agency. Would it be less objectionable if they convinced station owners to drop him?

  59. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:26 pm

    @Michael:

    I don't want to be too pedantic, but there's a difference between criticism and litigation. I know that FIRE routinely sends letters and press releases criticizing private colleges that guarantee free speech but don't live up to the guarantee. I'm asking if you know of cases where they've litigated.

  60. Papillon  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:26 pm

    @Ken White

    If Kickstarter is imagined to have some sort of obligation to be a platform for speech that its management finds unpleasant — or that it thinks will lose it business — then Kickstarter has less freedom.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with that in general.

    Can you please explain:
    1) Does the same argument apply if you replace PUAs with African Americans?
    2) If not, why?

  61. Matt Raft  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:29 pm

    Someone else already mentioned the Dixie Chicks, and I think it's a great example. If you haven't seen the documentary, _Shut Up and Sing_, I highly recommend it.

    Here, we are speaking past each other perhaps b/c we are debating two separate issues:

    Issue: a corporation or other private entity may regulate its own content as it sees fit.

    Issue: a corporation or private entity must make a profit and therefore necessarily considers the opinions of its customer base. If enough members of its customer base complain, a private entity may be pressured into removing content based on the general opinions of an emotional mob rather than objective data or objective analysis.

    For example, what if a vocal group of people suddenly decide that Dixie Chicks' songs should not be broadcast based on their opinion of the Dixie Chicks' politics? This group then pressures radio stations to stop playing Dixie Chicks' songs under threat of complaining to advertisers or some other financial consequence. Suddenly, this group–perhaps even a small one–has successfully removed content from the air based on their own subjective opinions. (I acknowledge this example seems different from the Kickstarter example, b/c Kickstarter is responding to pressure about the content itself, not a person's political beliefs.) I always ask the pointed question: who needs to be worried about the government censoring content if we readily accept the idea that small groups of motivated people can remove content from general public consumption based on their own subjective emotions about the speaker(s)?

    The Dixie Chicks is not the best example, though it's an interesting one due to the political motivations involved. After all, if we deem it acceptable to drive people out of business based on political speech, where do we place the line at which we demand information be available?

    Let's replace their songs with something more substantive, such as a written expose about a popular politician's business dealings. If Kickstarter had, under pressure, removed a book placing a popular politician in a bad light, would we still be having the same discussion? If not, doesn't it make sense that we ought to be also evaluating types of speech censored, whether by a government actor or not?

  62. Michael K.  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:31 pm

    Anyone who says that Kickstarter's new policy is an act of censorship is technically correct, by the strict definition of the word. Criticizing them for it is fair game, as long as you realize you're simply criticizing a legitimate business choice that you believe is wrongheaded.

    Anyone who says that Kickstarter's content-based restrictions violate their free speech/First Amendment rights is an ignorant dumbass and should be subject to ridicule.

  63. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:41 pm

    @Michael:

    Anyone who says that Kickstarter's new policy is an act of censorship is technically correct, by the strict definition of the word. Criticizing them for it is fair game, as long as you realize you're simply criticizing a legitimate business choice that you believe is wrongheaded.

    My point is not only that — it's also that criticism is necessarily saying "you should allow speech you don't like on your platform even if it costs you money."

  64. Ben E.  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:46 pm

    Ken,

    What I usually see in these complaints is confusion or conflation of the right to freedom of speech, and the desire for equality in speech. People are guaranteed that the government will not restrict their opportunity or ability to speak. People would like to be guaranteed, but are not guaranteed, opportunity and ability to speak that are equal to any other speaker.

  65. Dan Weber  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:54 pm

    I can't find much specific to disagree with in Ken's post, but something leaves me verklempt.

    I've talked before on comments threads here about how I find the means of using boycotts to get someone's specific speech venue cut off troublesome. NB: I'm not saying it's not legal. It's entirely legal, and it should remain legal.

    But I see the end of this slippery mob slope being people afraid to express unpopular political opinions, or else end up behind the wrong blackball. If a sufficiently large section of society decides you suck (and it doesn't need to be a majority; even a few thousand people can do it) and organize protests and boycott anyone who, say, employs you, it's not a good world for the marketplace of ideas we're trying to protect.

    Again, those protests and boycotts shouldn't be illegal. There are things I think bad for society that I think should still remain legal, because any legal cure (like requiring Kickstarter to take all comers) would be vastly worse.

  66. Jesse from Tulsa  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:55 pm

    Censorship is not limited to a governmental actor. To argue that the word is so limited is neglecting many important elements of Freedom of Speech. Legally, of course, government actors are the focus of First Amendment rights against censorship – but not limited to that.

    Censorship:

    ACLU definition – the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.
    http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/what-censorship

    "The term censorship, however, as commonly understood, connotes any examination of thought or expression in order to prevent publication of 'objectionable' material."
    — U.S. Supreme Court, Farmers Educational & Coop. Union v. WDAY, Inc., 360 U.S. 525 at 527 (1959)

    "Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous."
    - American Library Association

    "The act of censoring," Censors: "a person who supervises conduct and morals…"
    - Marriam-Webster

    Nearly every "authority" of any kind I can think of clearly states that the definition is not so clear. Whether something is "censorship" is open for debate – and that further expands free speech.

    Isn't that great?

  67. Chad Miller  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:57 pm

    When I first heard about this I immediately thought "I'll be shocked if this gets funded." I've been paying attention to games on Kickstarter for awhile now, and I recall another project that was removed from the site: Tentacle Bento. It was an anime card game and if "anime+tentacles" means anything to you then it's exactly what it sounds like. It reached its funding goal, was pulled from the site, and ended up getting funded anyway by having their own funding drive on their own site after their Kickstarter was taken down. I imagine this will end in the same result.

  68. Dan Weber  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:57 pm

    … that criticism is necessarily saying "you should allow speech you don't like on your platform even if it costs you money."

    We require organizations to put up with lots of things that cost people money. Even if I can prove that my store does better business with white cashiers than black cashiers because my customers are racist, I'm not allowed to only hire white people.

    (I'm not saying Kickstarter should be legally required to provide service here; just picking at that particular argument.)

  69. Michael Yuri  •  Jun 21, 2013 @12:58 pm

    I know that FIRE routinely sends letters and press releases criticizing private colleges that guarantee free speech but don't live up to the guarantee. I'm asking if you know of cases where they've litigated.

    I don't know of any specific cases they've litigated — I may be wrong about that. I assumed they had done so, because I've heard Lukianoff on multiple occasions say that this legal theory has been accepted by courts.

    This law review article, written by a FIRE lawyer, cites a bunch of cases endorsing the contract theory starting on page 158. I have no idea whether FIRE was involved in any of these cases.

  70. David  •  Jun 21, 2013 @1:16 pm

    It's amazing how often people believe that the First Amendment protects their right to be assholes, but not other people's right to tell them they're assholes.

  71. nlp  •  Jun 21, 2013 @1:43 pm

    The word censorship is waved around quite a bit, and a lot of people do misunderstand, and misuse, the word. When someone says something that many people find objectionable, and someone else criticizes the statement, that is not censorship. Ken has dealt with this concept before; that some people believe it is censorship when someone disagrees with them. Not if they are being silenced, but if someone disagrees with them out loud. ("Out loud" in this concept means any public discourse: radio, blogs, television, newspapers, etc.). That is not censorship.

    Joan Rivers recently gave an example of misunderstood censorship. She had written a book that Costco, based on concerns regarding statements on the book cover, decided not to carry. This was a decision made by Costco. It did not affect Ms Rivers' right to sell the book elsewhere, to talk about it on television or radio stations, to put advertisements on internet sites. Costco did not attempt to have the book repressed. They made a decision based on the perceived comfort level of Costco customers. And yet there was Joan, ranting and screaming about how Costco was censoring her. That's ridiculous. Costco is not required to sell every book ever written. They are free to offer their customers what they believe their customers want to buy.

    If Kickstarter believes that they will lose customers based on concerns regarding PUAs, then they have to right to protect their business by not supporting PUAs. The PUA writers can look for funding elsewhere. In fact, I'd be surprised if someone was not already setting up something similar to Kickstarter, but offering material that Kickstarter doesn't want to handle. And that is their right.

  72. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @1:45 pm

    @papillon:

    @Ken White

    "If Kickstarter is imagined to have some sort of obligation to be a platform for speech that its management finds unpleasant — or that it thinks will lose it business — then Kickstarter has less freedom."

    I don't think there's anything wrong with that in general.

    Can you please explain:
    1) Does the same argument apply if you replace PUAs with African Americans?
    2) If not, why?

    I'll assume you're not asking me the legal and statutory question of whether existing laws prohibit Kickstarter from rejecting content from African-American authors. I believe multiple state and federal laws would prohibit that.

    Do laws prohibiting racial and religious discrimination result in less freedom?

    Yes.

    Many — most? — people think the reduction in freedom is justified and outweighed by the benefit. Many people favor laws prohibiting racial and religious discrimination by businesses over the alternatives — which might include shunning businesses that practice racial discrimination. Even people generally identified as libertarians have constructed defenses of anti-discrimination laws — at least in some contexts. But it's dishonest to deny that anti-discrimination laws restrict freedom. You may agree with that restriction, you may decry the racism, that doesn't change it. You don't have to endorse or agree with hate speech, for example, to recognize that hate speech laws restrict speech.

    Your question seems to suggest that anti-discrimination laws are comparable to laws or policies requiring publishing platforms to accept all speakers equally. So let me turn the question around on you.

    If you impose upon an African-American owner of a small publishing company the obligation to publish a book arguing that African-Americans are inherently inferior and should not have full rights as Americans — even though doing so will cost the company business — is the owner less free? Do you think there is anything wrong with that in general?

  73. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @2:05 pm
  74. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @2:39 pm

    I'm jumping in to comment directly after reading the post, so I apologize if this has already been addressed in previous comments.

    First, the "living room" analogy runs counter to 5 decades of public accommodations law.

    Second, censorship by private entities is still censorship. It isn't UNCONSTITUTIONAL censorship, but censorship it is. (Remember the theory that the remedy for bad speech is not silencing the speaker, but more speech? It applies to private actors, too, and not just the government.)

    Bottom line: If you're open to the public, you're open to the public… even those parts of the public that you wouldn't invite into your living room.

  75. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @2:45 pm

    "But why do you have a right to a private broadcasting"
    Oops. You probably didn't want to drag this part into your argument about publishing monopoly, Ken.
    Broadcasting over the public EM spectrum is limited by license, and licenses are granted only for the public interest, convenience, etc. That's why the government CAN impose restrictions on what gets broadcast… the broadcasters are using their own equipment to broadcast, but they're broadcasting on the public's EM spectrum. In this case, the public owns the living room (the spectrum) on which the private broadcasters want to speak (transmit signals).

  76. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @2:57 pm

    First, the "living room" analogy runs counter to 5 decades of public accommodations law.

    Public accommodations law doesn't require public accommodations to support disfavored messages. It prohibits specified discrimination. Nothing requires the LA Times to print my letter to the editor if its a racist rant.

  77. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @2:59 pm

    "Seems pretty cut and dry to me. If Kickstarter exerts too much editorial influence over the projects they manage, then a competitor will appear and take up that market share. If not, then the "wronged" folks can fuck right off."

    So if the various lunch counter owners decide they don't want to serve black people any more, either other businesses will arise to serve those black people, or the black people can fuck right off?

    (Feel free to substitute any other minority group.)

    What if I don't want to pay the costs to upgrade my business for ADA accessibility compliance… can I just decide instead that I don't want to serve disabled people? Either one of my competitors will emerge to serve those customers… or they can fuck right off.

  78. -Eyrun-  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:01 pm
  79. Orphan  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:04 pm

    Ken, if you picked the best quotes to use in making this argument, -you- are the one who decided to call it censorship, not them.

  80. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:05 pm

    "Public accommodations law doesn't require public accommodations to support disfavored messages."

    No, but it does rather firmly establish a difference in property law between residences and businesses. You may continue to exclude anyone you like from your home for any reason; businesses may NOT exclude anyone they like for any reason. Fifty years ago, lunch counter owners argued that they had a right to exclude black people from their businesses because A) they didn't want to serve them, and B) their other customers didn't want to eat next to black people, and C) opening their establishments to black people would actually cost them customers (i.e., it was against their interest to allow black customers. All three arguments were losers.

  81. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:08 pm

    @James: Yes. Which is why I'd be wrong if I said that Kickstarter can reject Inuit authors because I can keep Inuit out of my living room. But public accommodations law has not extended to forcing publishers to publish all speech. It's very unlikely that they could be so required under the First Amendment.

  82. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:12 pm

    "Do you have a right to show up at your local TV news studio and be broadcast?"
    Not since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed in the 1980's. But yes, it used to be the case that you could show up at a broadcaster and demand "equal time" in response to any editorial position the station had taken. (Because of the Fairness Doctrine, most TV stations categorically avoided taking any position on any issue that could trigger a Fairness Doctrine demand.)

  83. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:24 pm

    Ken, you're trying to apply the analogy of "I can decide who gets excluded from my living room" to "I can decide who gets excluded from my private business" and this analogy is flawed; businesses do not have an absolute right to exclude members of the public which is similar to the absolute right private residence owners have to exclude members of the public.
    Dragging the first amendment into the question changes nothing. For example, I could note that as the owner of a private residence, I'm entitled to regulate the time, place, and manner of all speech that takes place within, just as the Congress is entitled to regulate the time, place, and manner of all speech that takes place within the U.S. This is a false analogy because it ignores an important restriction of the Congress' authority to regulate time place and manner — a compelling state interest — that I do not have in my role as a residential property-owner.

  84. KC  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:30 pm

    I'm so glad to see this discussion here! Just to clarify, the reason why many people were upset was not just that it was a book about pick up artists, it was quotes from the book like

    “Decide that you’re going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.”

    It wasn't just that it was annoying, as I find those stupid "how to land a man" books, it was advocating assault, essentially. If it was just a book about sleazy pick-up lines, I certainly wouldn't have cared, and I doubt it would have garnered as much drama as it did. (If interested, here's the blog where I first heard about it: http://bit.ly/12Urv2Q).

    Ken, thanks for commenting on this mess and fellow commenters, thanks for debating it vigorously!

  85. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:41 pm

    "Joan Rivers recently gave an example of misunderstood censorship. She had written a book that Costco, based on concerns regarding statements on the book cover, decided not to carry. … Costco did not attempt to have the book repressed. They made a decision based on the perceived comfort level of Costco customers. And yet there was Joan, ranting and screaming about how Costco was censoring her. That's ridiculous."

    Assuming your description is accurate, Costco did, in fact, censor Ms. Rivers. A fairly mild censorship and one theire entirely permitted to indulge in, but, yeah, that's censorship. (In fact, it's similar to the way the Hays office censored films… films not approved by the Hays office could not be shown in theaters owned by the studios. The Hays office didn't prevent unapproved films from being shown privately or overseas, and they were censoring films because of public outcry over the level of sex, nudity, and to a lesser extent, violence in films.)

    Compare and contrast two different approaches to raunchy song lyrics. One approach says that CDs that have naughty words in them should have a warning attached to the outside of the package, so that people (especially parents) will know what's inside before they make a purchase decision (this puts the censoring decision in the hands of the customer). On the other hand, consider a retailer that flatly refuses to carry any CD with a naughty-lyrics sticker on it (this approach denies the customer the right to decide for themselves.)

  86. Matthew Cline  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:43 pm

    If you want to stand in my living room and shout about how the Inuit control alpaca production through a conspiracy with hip-hop record labels,

    Fool! It's obviously the clowns who control alpaca production through a conspiracy with the lizard people.

  87. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:46 pm

    "public accommodations law has not extended to forcing publishers to publish all speech."
    I thought of an example that comes close, though. During the initial wave of cable TV franchising, in the early 1980's, most cable providers were required to provide "cable access" facilities as a condition of receiving a local franchise. They didn't require the cable companies to air all programming submitted for cable access, but they did have to carry a lot of programming they otherwise wouldn't have wanted to carry. (For example, locally there was the guy who had a cable access talk show in which he (but not his guests) was invariably naked as a jaybird.)

  88. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:48 pm

    "It's obviously the clowns who control alpaca production through a conspiracy with the lizard people."

    It's you who's the fool. The lizard people aren't interested in alpaca production because they're cold-blooded.

  89. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @3:57 pm

    "What I'm asking is when does censorship merit criticism?"

    Criticism is speech, and therefore always appropriate. Now, how widely that criticism is agreed with is, always will be, and should be, highly variable.

  90. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 21, 2013 @4:01 pm

    We embarked on civil rights laws for noble reasons. The laws addressed widespread institutional discrimination which was backed by the unspoken threat of violence against those who dared to speak out against the status quo, often compounded by law enforcement and courts that were complicit with the perpetrators of the violence. It was an extreme situation.

    But in our desire to just get the laws passed in the face of a lot of opposition, we didn't come up with very good constitutional justification for why these laws should override people's rights to free association and free speech. Now everyone wants to be on the protected-class gravy train, and we get absurd arguments about why douchenozzles need to be accommodated by any business from which they demand service.

    You can't equate holding an unpopular opinion with being born into an ethnic group. In this case, particularly, the service Kickstarter provides, by its nature, promulgates the ideas Kickstarter's owners consider offensive.

    A similar conundrum: Though I support gay marriage, I have a lot of problem with using the courts to force a bakery to create wedding cakes for gay couples, especially since I didn't hear the bakers were refusing to make birthday cakes or graduation cakes for people because of their sexual orientation. Creating a cake is a form of expression, and I don't think people should be forced to create art with a message they are morally opposed to.

  91. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @4:09 pm

    "If Kickstarter is imagined to have some sort of obligation to be a platform for speech that its management finds unpleasant — or that it thinks will lose it business — then Kickstarter has less freedom."

    Does it make a difference if we distinguish between LEGAL obligations, and obligations of other types (moral, social, fairness)? Is it fair to ask if there is any sort of preference allowed in balancing (freedom for businesses to act as they please) against (freedom for people affected by that business's chosen actions?) I mean, a LOT of moral and legal thinking has gone into balancing the rights of one person against another (arm-swinging vs. nasal integrity being the most frequently referenced, I believe) and almost as much to balancing the rights of one group of people against another group of people.

  92. wisco  •  Jun 21, 2013 @4:28 pm

    Assuming your description is accurate, Costco did, in fact, censor Ms. Rivers. A fairly mild censorship and one they're entirely permitted to indulge in, but, yeah, that's censorship.

    This, I don't get. How is it that preventing someone from expounding a view and not helping to facilitate that view two points on the same scale?

    A pawn shop refusing to accept a "lawn jockey" or "smokin' injun" statue and sell it, a Christian book store not selling shemale-porn despite black plastic outer sleeves, a wedding photographer who doesn't photograph gay weddings or one who won't photograph a staged scene of gay-bashing for some skinheads, do these business owners differ only in quantity from the judges issuing orders to cut off access to Twitter or YouTube?

  93. nlp  •  Jun 21, 2013 @4:37 pm

    James Pollock, Assuming your description is accurate, Costco did, in fact, censor Ms. Rivers. A fairly mild censorship and one theire entirely permitted to indulge in, but, yeah, that's censorship.

    Due to limited space, every business owner has to make a decision regarding what he sells to the public. Even internet businesses as large as Amazon can't sell everything. They may try, but they can't. There comes a point where they have to decide what to sell.

    According to you, this is censorship, and it shouldn't happen. Costco should sell Ms Rivers book whether they want to or not, or you are going to yell "censorship." Costco isn't censoring Ms Rivers. They have a limited amount of space in which to sell merchandise. Yes, they have a lot of space, but there is also a lot of merchandise. They made a marketing decision based on feedback from their customers, who said they preferred not to have that book where it was available to young children. That is not censorship. If Joan Rivers and her publishers want her book available at Costco, they are free to print a different cover with the offending quotes removed. They don't have to change a word of the book. It was the cover people objected to.

    If we are to accept your definition of censorship, then every newspaper, every television station, every radio station would have to publish every single item of news every day. They can't. They have to pick and choose, based on what they think will interest their readers or listeners, based on marketing information and feedback from their audience.

    Now, since you believe that Costco has unjustly silenced Joan Rivers, (whose book was on the bestseller list and available in thousands of locations) please give me the name of the author whose book will have to be removed from Costco's shelves due to limited space.

    You can't simply state that removing her book is censorship. It's a marketing decision. They are not in the free press business. They are in the selling business.

  94. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 21, 2013 @4:53 pm

    There are so many cases where public pressure to censor something ended up promoting it. I'm sure it is sometimes used as a marketing strategy. Put "fuck" and "shit" on the cover of your book, then cry censorship when some store refuses to display it. I would never have heard of Joan Rivers' book otherwise.

  95. naught_for_naught  •  Jun 21, 2013 @5:23 pm

    @Ken

    What makes consumer choice or consumer speech "coercion?" Are all boycotts or criticism campaigns coercive?

    What makes something "coercion," as opposed to bringing it to a company's or individual's attention?

    It becomes coercion when an outside group threatens to damage a private company's image or reputation unless it acquiesces to their demands about which content is fit for public consumption.

    In the case of the Women's Media Center's action against Facebook, it was clearly coercive. I'm paraphrasing here, but they charged FB with supporting "rape culture" by not removing images which they judged to be offensive. It wasn't just a one-off letter of complaint. It wasn't a single petition. It was on ongoing action wherein they they figuratively stood on FB's doorstep shouting that they support rape.

    Ironically, I my opinion is also based on the same principles that you claim. These groups have no right not to be offended, and their actions, being coercive, limit the freedoms of others especially the firm being targeted.

    I looked at the images posted on the WMC site, the worst of the worst, if you will. Many were truly disturbing, but some were just in bad taste. Others were satirical. One was an image originally produced by PETA (an offensive organization) showing a naked celebrity under plastic like meat in a grocery store. Someone had co-opted that image and placed a fairly innocuous tag on it. My point is this, you wind up with one group of well organized people imposing their sensibilities on everyone else. That's just wrong.

  96. nlp  •  Jun 21, 2013 @6:16 pm

    AlphaCentauri, I had the same thought. When she was doing the whole handcuffing herself to the shopping cart bit I wondered if she was just desperate for publicity.

  97. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @6:18 pm

    "Due to limited space, every business owner has to make a decision regarding what he sells to the public."
    True.

    "Even internet businesses as large as Amazon can't sell everything. They may try, but they can't."
    True.

    "There comes a point where they have to decide what to sell."
    True.

    "According to you, this is censorship"
    True.

    "and it shouldn't happen. Costco should sell Ms Rivers book whether they want to or not"
    Where the fuck did you get that from?

    "Costco isn't censoring Ms Rivers."
    Except that it is.

    "They made a marketing decision based on feedback from their customers, who said they preferred not to have that book where it was available to young children. That is not censorship."
    Keeping things away from young children is censorship. I'm beginning to think you don't know what censorship is.

    "If Joan Rivers and her publishers want her book available at Costco, they are free to print a different cover with the offending quotes removed."
    Seriously, did you read this before you posted it? It's totally not censorship to demand changes to the book if you want us to sell it?

    "If we are to accept your definition of censorship, then every newspaper, every television station, every radio station would have to publish every single item of news every day."
    "My" definition of censorship is the one in the dictionary. How does understanding what "censorship" means have anything to do with what newspapers, television stations, and radio stations do?

    "Now, since you believe that Costco has unjustly silenced Joan Rivers"
    Stop making up things I "believe". Especially if the stuff you make up is directly counter to what I wrote, AND YOU QUOTED, proving you knew I wrote it. Or feel free to explain how you got from "A fairly mild censorship and one theire [sic] entirely permitted to indulge in" to "Costco has unjustly silenced Joan Rivers".

  98. Bobby Seale  •  Jun 21, 2013 @6:22 pm

    1 million internet posts to David for:
    <cite="It's amazing how often people believe that the First Amendment protects their right to be assholes, but not other people's right to tell them they're assholes."</cite

  99. ULTRAGOTHA  •  Jun 21, 2013 @6:23 pm

    naught_for_naught -

    In the case of the Women's Media Center's action against Facebook, it was clearly coercive. I'm paraphrasing here, but they charged FB with supporting "rape culture" by not removing images which they judged to be offensive. It wasn't just a one-off letter of complaint. It wasn't a single petition. It was on ongoing action wherein they they figuratively stood on FB's doorstep shouting that they support rape.

    How is that different from United Farm Workers organizing a boycott of grapes to try to obtain better working conditions?

    Or the nestle boycott in response to their practices in regard to baby milk?

  100. Bobby Seale  •  Jun 21, 2013 @6:23 pm

    That should have been points not posts, but I suppose that works too.

  101. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @6:30 pm

    "This, I don't get. How is it that preventing someone from expounding a view and not helping to facilitate that view two points on the same scale?"

    At the severe end of censorship, you have "You have offended us and therefore we sentence you to death by stoning, and all copies of your offending work are to be destroyed by burning at the earliest opportunity". And at the mild end of censorship, you have "you have offended us (or someone we care about) and therefore we banish your work from our premises." Censorship occurs with amazing frequency; it's only newsworthy when the person or group doing the censoring attempts to censor beyond its authority. (e.g., "I don't think this book is appropriate for my children. Therefore, I want it removed from the public library.")

  102. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @6:37 pm

    Ironically, I my opinion is also based on the same principles that you claim. These groups have no right not to be offended, and their actions, being coercive, limit the freedoms of others especially the firm being targeted.

    No. Absolutely not. This is fundamental. You are inventing rights that don't exist for the purpose of limiting the rights of others.

    You are right that groups have no right not to be offended. But Facebook has no right to be free of public criticism, even criticism that you disagree with.

    Facebook is free to defy criticism if it disagrees with it. Facebook does not have any protected "freedom" to be protected from criticism you think is wrong-headed or unfair. That "freedom" would necessarily mean someone else is not free to speak, to organize, to boycott. Such freedom is just as contradictory and incoherent as the right not to be offended.

  103. Christopher  •  Jun 21, 2013 @7:07 pm

    The hidden argument behind the monopoly parade-of-horribles is this: maybe companies shouldn't have the right to decide which expression they support through their business, because if there were a monopoly then it would be hard to broadcast speech the monopoly didn't like. But why do you have a right to a private broadcasting or publishing medium, if they don't want to do business with you? Why does Kickstarter have to support speech it doesn't like — speech that costs it business — to ward off that hypothetical future?

    I still think it's disingenuous to pretend there's not a problem with private entities preventing certain speech when we live in a situation where pretty much all forms of mass communication are privately owned, even those that use public resources like the airwaves.

    I feel like there's something silly and quixotic about saying "You have freedom of speech, just not where anybody could actually hear or respond to it. But you're perfectly within your rights to stand on the streetcorner and shout at random passers by!" Saying, "If you don't like it start your own business" is just silly.

    I feel like your argument always tends to be "We have a legitimate and important interest in allowing private companies to refuse to publish speech they disagree with, therefore there isn't a problem at all."

    I don't disagree in any way with the first part, but I still think that it's equally true to say "We have a legitimate and important interest in having mass communication that exposes us to a variety of different views"

    This latter is one reason why we have public libraries; to help expose us to out of print books which private companies have decided it's not profitable to continue publishing.

    And the library system has found a way to do that without requiring publishers to print books that they disagree with or that would hurt their bottom line.

    Which is why I think that even though the interests I identified are in tension, there are probably middle grounds that will allow us to satisfy both, instead of torpedoing one or the other.

  104. Scott  •  Jun 21, 2013 @7:20 pm

    What is alarming isn't so much that the PUA guy's book isn't being funded by kickstarter anymore. It's that the people who take issue with it immediately jumped to trying to keep it from seeing the light of day.

    It is the acceptance of "stifle it" as a solution to objectionable content that is disturbing. I don't care about the book itself. Whether it gets published or not makes no difference to me, or most people, as a matter of fact. What is fucked up is that a bunch of pissed off people who have trouble putting things in perspective have decided to say that preventing someone from expressing their ideas is justifiable. They could have chosen to ignore this guy, or hell, written a book explaining why his book is complete and utter shit. In any case, it wouldn't really make much of a difference.

    Instead, they gave him free publicity. He doesn't even need a kickstarter now, he can just open a paypal account, and he'll probably get ten times what he got on kickstarter because a lot of people who wouldn't have otherwise bought the book a) now know about it and b) are rightfully pissed off at the actions of the extremists who think that the petition to get the project removed from kickstarter was a good idea. It's pre-rational nonsense and in the exact same pathological family as the disease of mind capable of producing slogans like "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists".

    Are you really going to tell me that if there weren't an option to get the government to block the publishing of this book altogether, that the people who are behind the petition would hesitate? Luckily, we don't yet live in a society where that can happen. If we keep validating these morally self-righteous bullies, we can definitely expect that to change.

    By the way, I absolutely hated the vile excerpts I read from the book. Just so we're clear.

  105. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Jun 21, 2013 @7:27 pm

    I approach it this way;

    1) Nobody's freedom of speech allows them to force somebody into a position where it appears that that person is sponsoring said speech. The exception was the "Fairness Doctrine", which was based on very limited bandwidth in public spectrum and which was widely regarded as iffy. Freedom to speak includes freedom to NOT speak.

    2) Freedom of the Press means that IF YOU OWN ONE you may print what you damn please. Nobody promised to buy one for you, or to buy the output of one that you got for yourself. If Costco doesn't want to sell Joan Rivers's writing, they have that right. They also have the right to refuse to sell the claptrap put out by nuts like the KKK, The Friends Of The Earth, Jerry Falwell, or the San Martin Liberation Front.

    3) Preventing someone from saying or publishing something is censorship. Denying them assistance in doing so, at your expense, is thrift.

    4) Anyone may, at any time, be criticized for the uses to which they put their property. Of course, if you are criticizing them for declining to help you disseminate obvious swill, you are only making yourself more contemptible.

  106. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @8:07 pm

    @Scott:

    It is the acceptance of "stifle it" as a solution to objectionable content that is disturbing. I don't care about the book itself. Whether it gets published or not makes no difference to me, or most people, as a matter of fact. What is fucked up is that a bunch of pissed off people who have trouble putting things in perspective have decided to say that preventing someone from expressing their ideas is justifiable. They could have chosen to ignore this guy, or hell, written a book explaining why his book is complete and utter shit. In any case, it wouldn't really make much of a difference.

    Well, no. They haven't prevented him from expressing his ideas. He released a statement that's linked from everywhere on Scribd. He's still on twitter. He can start a blog. He can find another venue with a different view. What they've done is convince one business not to carry works like his.

    Are you really going to tell me that if there weren't an option to get the government to block the publishing of this book altogether, that the people who are behind the petition would hesitate? Luckily, we don't yet live in a society where that can happen. If we keep validating these morally self-righteous bullies, we can definitely expect that to change.

    But there wasn't government censorship. There was private expression. What, exactly, do you propose to do about private expression like this?

  107. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @8:13 pm

    @Christopher:

    I still think it's disingenuous to pretend there's not a problem with private entities preventing certain speech when we live in a situation where pretty much all forms of mass communication are privately owned, even those that use public resources like the airwaves.

    I feel like there's something silly and quixotic about saying "You have freedom of speech, just not where anybody could actually hear or respond to it. But you're perfectly within your rights to stand on the streetcorner and shout at random passers by!" Saying, "If you don't like it start your own business" is just silly.

    I still have to ask: compared to what?

    At no time in human history have more people had (1) so many options (2) available to so many people (3) so relatively cheaply (4) to reach so many people (5) so effectively and quickly. Really. Can you think of any time, any place, where someone with an unpopular view could more easily make it available to more people? Was there a time when "mass communication" was not privately owned?

    There are tons of ways for this guy to express himself and self-publish on the internet, and make his expression available to millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions or billions. He can do so more cheaply than at any time in history. Have you seen the creepy, unpopular, hateful shit out there on the internet?

    He doesn't have a right to use someone else's soapbox.

  108. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 21, 2013 @8:37 pm

    On the purely linguistic and personal level, it can be quite unsettling when words change their connotations.

    I like to imagine what an ancient Roman soldier would think after hearing a sportscaster say Chicago decimated New York, or what a member of the Athenian Assembly would think of our version of ostracism. In my version, both might respond with something like:

    "Well that was a touch harsh don't you think? All because they were wearing grey?"

    Just the other day, I was impeached. It was a valid impeachment though – I *had* forgotten to wear deodorant.

    Using either ostracism or decimation in their old sense these days would be shocking and bizarre, or at the very least highly confusing.
    A speaker using impeachment in its older sense, on the other hand, could still be understood by many even if it made the speaker look a bit stuffy and archaic.

    As for myself, I think I share Ken's perception of the word "censorship": a bazooka of a word too often used to swat at flies while simultaneously overstating the danger of said flies. Others do not share that perception of course. Even if they do the meaning of a word will still shift over time – it almost always does. That's why when somebody says "I just want you to define your terms" get read to duck.

    That's all I got. 22 Skidoo cats and kittens.

  109. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @8:41 pm

    "He doesn't have a right to use someone else's soapbox."
    And yet, he DOES have a right to complain about being kicked off someone else's soapbox.

  110. Ken White  •  Jun 21, 2013 @8:46 pm

    And yet, he DOES have a right to complain about being kicked off someone else's soapbox.

    Of course. And I would expect nothing less than a swollen and irrational sense of entitlement from a PUA.

  111. James Pollock  •  Jun 21, 2013 @8:50 pm

    "Of course. And I would expect nothing less than a swollen and irrational sense of entitlement from a PUA."
    Me, too. Except substitute "an American" for "a PUA".

  112. perlhaqr  •  Jun 21, 2013 @9:15 pm

    Cockstarter.com?

  113. CHH  •  Jun 21, 2013 @9:29 pm

    Ken, a question popped into my head as I read this post. (And my apologies if I futz up the HTML.)

    Why does Kickstarter have to support speech it doesn't like….

    …it limits my speech rights by making me an involuntary backer of speech I despise….

    If you impose upon an African-American owner of a small publishing company the obligation to publish a book arguing that African-Americans are inherently inferior and should not have full rights as Americans….

    Isn't this precisely what the SCOTUS decided must be done, as described here?

    I'll be the first to admit that calling me a noob on these kinds of matters would be very generous, so maybe there's something subtle (or blatantly obvious) that I'm missing here. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding one or both of these posts. If I'm not misunderstanding, what's the difference that makes it okay for one but not the other? Is it because one is a private business and the other is the government?

  114. Ian L  •  Jun 21, 2013 @9:57 pm

    Kickstarter doesn't have a monopoly on fundraising. Nor does YouTube have a monopoly on video hosting. Nor does Twitter have a monopoly on microblogging. Yes, they have the lion's share of audience for each market (so did, at one time, MySpace and AIM), but they also have terms of service. If you violate them, or otherwise do something objectionable (less so with Twitter, which is fine considering their instrumentality in positive political actions) then they kick you out of the sandbox.

    Which is fine, as long as they do it on a consistent basis. Because then you can build your own sandbox and host your own fundraising, video-streaming or micro-blogging activities as needed. And because the Internet is free (and should remain so) you can do yo' thang and attract your audience, as a subset of the entire world's population. I could give an example of a YouTube alternative that does exactly this, but you can probably figure that one out. Let's just say I find it objectionable.

    While skimming through the comments I saw a double-scenario. One was one entity buying up all newspapers and then using them to blast their political views. I say that's fine, as long as they don't make it illegal (or de facto illegal) to provide a counterpoint in the same media format (but not by the same author of course) to their views. That's what makes the internet such a great thing.

    The other scenario, OTOH, is not kosher…if you as a corporate entity or maybe even non-corp special interest group are powerful enough to make the government do things that it shouldn't (via lobbying or whatever), even if those things are "good", that's double-plus-ungood territory right there. Because you're tilting the balance of power in a way that you shouldn't be able to go.

    Full disclosure: I'm Libertarian with a heaping helping of social Conservative. Which means that if Facebook started censoring (the weak-tea version) the rabid Right I'd probably build an alternate universe wherein they could share their views more freely. But I wouldn't do the same for PUAs.

  115. Anonymous  •  Jun 21, 2013 @10:29 pm

    I mentioned this on another article… Let's talk about the idiots at AM790 in Atlanta. The ones who got fired for making fun of Steve Gleason. I choose this particular incident, because it happens to be one where my own personal ox was gored — my wife recently died from ALS.

    My well meaning sisters emailed me a link to the story (I actually hadn't heard about it yet), and expected me to support their righteous indignation.

    BZZZT!!!! Wrong!!! Thank you for playing, and here's your lovely parting gift. I took a POV somewhat similar to Ken's.

    1. Yes, they're assholes.
    2. Yes, I'm offended
    3. Yes, I called them assholes, as is my right.
    4. No, just because they're assholes, and I'm offended, I don't have the right to demand that they stop being assholes.

    My belief in the First Amendment is strong enough that I could override my personal distaste for their assholery.

  116. Scott  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:02 pm

    Well, no. They haven't prevented him from expressing his ideas. He released a statement that's linked from everywhere on Scribd. He's still on twitter. He can start a blog. He can find another venue with a different view. What they've done is convince one business not to carry works like his."

    The people who petitioned to have the kickstarter removed reacted in a very violent and morally despotic manner.
    It doesn't matter if the arbitrating body is a government or a company. The catalysts for arbitration would still be a bunch of clueless, angry sheep who are raising hell in the hopes that they can feel accomplished by successfully shutting down someone's artistic outlet. Whether they are successful or not, they still are pathologically stupid.

    But there wasn't government censorship. There was private expression. What, exactly, do you propose to do about private expression like this?

    My objection has nothing to do with whether it is technically OK for the Kickstarter to be removed. Obviously, Kickstarter should be fully empowered to control what projects it hosts. If Kickstarter finds that this project was in violation of its ToS, or if Kickstarter wants to change its ToS to include things like this, that is fully within their rights as an independent business and I have absolutely no issue with it.

    My issue is with the legions of drones who saw something they didn't like and hatched the plan to stage a massive sensationalist online protest as a means of silencing an author, preventing the dissemination of his work, etc. They do not understand the implications behind their actions, they simply follow the leader and violently attack anyone who holds them accountable for what they are doing.

    Everyone was acting within their rights, here. The people who petitioned to have the author kicked out of Kickstarter should be ashamed of themselves for promoting a practice that (though legal) is reprehensible.

    They have adopted suppressive practices as a means of control. The Church of Scientology used these exact same practices in the early 2000s, and I'm sure that, internally, they were justifying it in much the same way.

  117. -Eyrun-  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:17 pm

    Not exactly.

    The project was basically a handbook for sexual harassment.
    This is not over-thinking things, or interpreting, the author textually said to force yourself upon the woman (at several moments of the "seduction"), because they secretly love that, and to only back off – temporarily – if she said a clear no. After having been forcefully sat on the "artist's" lap, for example.

    So, this was not a matter of "not liking" the book, they believed it to be directly dangerous, for physical (and mental…) health of women.

    Now, I'm well aware that doesn't change in he question of free speech, censorship, and all, given the book had not been ruled illegal.
    But it does matter if you start mentioning reasonings and motivations.
    This was *not* about suppressing a speech they felt distasteful. This was not a "this is demeaning to women because it objectifies them".

    That has been said, but it was not the reason for the demand. Perceived direct physical threat was.

    (Yes I'm a woman, in case you're wondering, and reading the excerpts scared me. As in "Ok, I'm not going to have a drink in public anytime soon this year." scared, the idea of a stranger touching me like described had me trembling behind my computer. If that happened IRL, I'd probably pass out on the spot. >_ Again, I'm aware this hardly matters regarding the question of censorship, legitimacy of Kickstarter's policy and all. I'm only answering the comment about "They have adopted suppressive practices as a means of control. The Church of Scientology used these exact same practices in the early 2000s".
    That comparison was unfair, control of ideas and speech was not the problem here. :/

  118. Christopher  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:30 pm

    There are tons of ways for this guy to express himself and self-publish on the internet, and make his expression available to millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions or billions. He can do so more cheaply than at any time in history. Have you seen the creepy, unpopular, hateful shit out there on the internet?

    Which is, in your view, essentially coincidental, and protected by nothing.

    That situation is maintained only by consumer demand, and consumers are going to state their demands in the strongest possible terms in order to try to get people to listen.

    I generally don't like definitional arguments; unless you're working in a really scientific field, people define words in slightly different ways. The word "censorship" in this case is not such a stretch for the meaning of the word that I think it needs to be called out.

    Also, Kickstarter is not a living room. A grocery store is not a living room. Mail service is not a living room. A car dealership is not a living room. I can do whatever I want in my living room and it doesn't effect you. If all of these privately owned services decided not to serve you, you would be in big trouble. That doesn't mean they should be nationalized or that we should all become communists.

    It does mean you need better arguments about how they should act and relate to the world than "Hey, they're privately owned, they can do whatever they want in their own living rooms!"

    As I've said before, I tend to prefer an actual harm argument. As you say, there are still many ways to self-publish and raise funds on the internet besides Kickstarter. This limited change to their process isn't a great amount of harm, and I support it.

    I also feel like you minimize the problems of private behaviors out of some idea that any criticism of private entities can only be answered by having the government censor them. But as I was saying with the library example, that's not true; Having made the decision that knowledge should be freely distributed, our ancestors responded not by forcing book publishers to reprint unprofitable books, but by storing unprofitable books and lending them out freely.

    In other words, it's fully possible to start with the premise "It's a shame this private company isn't making this product I wish they were making" and end up somewhere besides "So the government should force them to make it!"

    We could, I suppose, set up public servers where people had some guarantee of being able to post what they wanted, but that has its own problems.

  119. Paul E. Merrell  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:47 pm

    I'm not so sure that Ken's position is unassailable. For starters, we should recall that Twitter is a corporation, a market artificiality created and regulated by government. And Citizens United notwithstanding, there is a long history of regulating corporation's speech both affirmatively and prohibitively, e.g., mandatory disclosures of financial information and prohibition of innacuracies in financial statements and SEC disclosures.

    While it has not yet reached the topic of freedom of speech, there is under U.S. antitrust law the concept of an "essential facility;" that comes into existence when a monopoly exists and the monopolist decides to exclude another from use of the essential facility. In such cases, the courts sometimes require the monopolist to grant access to the facility. See for an overview, http://www.davidalbeck.com/writings/trinko.htm

    It's not difficult to imagine the essential facilities doctrine being expanded to encompass First Amendment rights, given: [i] the not-entirely unlikely emergence of a privately-owned monopoly on internet soapboxes; and [ii] a decades-old effort at negotiating a treaty to harmonize U.S. and European Union competition law (E.U. competition law takes the equivalent of the U.S. "essential facilities" doctrine much farther to encompass human rights).

    We also have a line of cases involving the right of petition out here under the Oregon state constitution involving gathering of citizen initiative signatures in the common areas of privately-owned shopping centers. Thus far, that right has been protected. For a survey of the case law, see Stranahan v. Fred Meyer, https://law.justia.com/cases/oregon/court-of-appeals/1998/a88372.html (I'm not sure that's the latest pronouncement; it was just close at hand). The underlying argument is that some types of shopping centers have functionally replaced the "town square," hence the same kinds of activities protected under the federal First Amendment must be protected in shopping centers, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.

    Finally, there is a precedent of sorts in the U.S. with regulation of activities that involve both private entities and government-owned resources, for examplle statutes governing use of the unshielded electronic spectrum that the government claims to own and regulates. E.g., affirmative and prohibitive speech requirements on television and radio broadcasters in some spectrums (e.g., "equal time" for minor political parties and George Carlin's famous "seven dirty words" involved in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation come to mind). In that regard, let's not forget that the Internet at least initially was owned by the U.S. government, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, and there is a revived neocon movement to reassert federal ownership of cyberspace, analogously to federal ownership of the unshielded electronic spectrum.

    Many other factors too, but my crystal ball was always defective and seems to be less and less trustworthy as I age. It offers me no insight as to how government regulation of cyberspace is going to play out in regard to First Amendment rights. To call that an "unsettled legal question" is a gross understatement.

    My 2 cents.

  120. a_random_guy  •  Jun 21, 2013 @11:54 pm

    I think it might be useful to look at Ken's position in a different context? He is saying that rules that apply to government (here, the first amendment) should not apply to private businesses.

    Ken claims the right to throw an obnoxious boor out of his living room. He is, of course, absolutely right.

    Now, Ken is a nice person, so let me take someone else for the following example: Nek. Nek is not a nice person, in fact, he absolutely despises people from Elbonia. One day, Nek is throwing a party, invites his friends to bring a guest along, and one of his friends brings an Elbonian. Nek says "Not in my house!" and throws the Elbonian out. Even if we all agree that Nek is not a nice person, I think most people will agree that he is within his rights. After all, it is his house.

    You can see where I am going with this, but let's take it slowly. Most will have heard of the case of the bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding, because gay marriage went against their personal principles. Probably the majority of readers of this blog were on the bakery's side: they should be able to refuse service to customers; there are enough bakeries in the world, and some of them will be ecstatic to have gay clients.

    But what about Nek? If he runs a business and refuses to serve Elbonians, he will be subject to some pretty severe penalties. If Elbonians translates to "disabled", the ADA will make him pay. If Elbonians are a race, or a gender – well, you see the problem.

    So where do we draw the line?

  121. James Pollock  •  Jun 22, 2013 @12:25 am

    "That comparison was unfair, control of ideas and speech was not the problem here."
    On the contrary, it is entirely about control of ideas and speech. For one thing, reading a book about manhandling women without their consent is not at all the same thing as actually manhandling women without their consent. More to the point, preventing this guy from using Kickstarter to fund his book project stops no-one from actually manhandling women without their consent.

    Let the record show that I am a single father with a teenage daughter; the topics of menfolk attempting to manhandle women against their will and available methods to interrupt such attempts have been occasional topics of discussion in my household in recent years.

    Perhaps someone should write a book on resisting the pathetic attempts of would-be pickup artists. If only there were some way to raise money to conduct the research on the topic…

  122. Anony Mouse  •  Jun 22, 2013 @12:46 am

    When did "freedom of speech" become "guarantee of being heard"? Just because you're allowed to spout whatever nonsense you want doesn't mean that you can force third parties to provide a stage, a sound system, and to bus in an audience.

  123. Kat  •  Jun 22, 2013 @1:08 am

    4. No, just because they're assholes, and I'm offended, I don't have the right to demand that they stop being assholes.

    I disagree with this pretty strongly and I'm having trouble articulating why. Here's my best try. This statement: "Hey, if someone is following you around in public yelling curses/slurs at you, you don't have the right to get them to try to stop." Agree or disagree? Most people would disagree. So taking an absolutist stance on this seems, to me, to be shifting the argument somewhat.

    Basically, I chose the example above because it's obviously behavior that no rational/sane person would say should become the public standard. If it's okay is some cases where the behavior is clearly objectionable to try to stop that behavior, then the argument needs to be on where we draw the line; simply saying that there is no need to draw a line because trying to stop behavior is wrong in every circumstance strikes me as approaching this the wrong way.

    @Ken:

    Facebook is free to defy criticism if it disagrees with it. Facebook does not have any protected "freedom" to be protected from criticism you think is wrong-headed or unfair. That "freedom" would necessarily mean someone else is not free to speak, to organize, to boycott. Such freedom is just as contradictory and incoherent as the right not to be offended.

    Thank you!

  124. -Eyrun-  •  Jun 22, 2013 @1:14 am

    @James Pollock : I thought the beginning of my post was clear enough about that, sorry. I'll start again:

    - I *know* the issue discussed in this article is that of free speech, censorship, and all. And that the precision I made does not matter, in that regard.

    - I was merely objecting to the comment before me, who equated the demand for the book not to be funded on Kickstarter with some sort of political thought-police, trying to silence something they don't like.
    I find that comparison unfair because, although there were lots of comments about the problems of PUA things like that one, they were *not* the motivation for the demand. This was *not* about feminist harpies trying to emasculate men and take over the world, despite what some comments on Kickstarter's post might lead to believe… ^^;

    That's all, I'm not directly commenting the free speech/censorship issue, here.

    I'm French, and I don't have enough knowledge and understanding of the American laws and culture regarding these matters (that's why I'm reading this blog and others) to actually participate in the main debate.

  125. James Pollock  •  Jun 22, 2013 @1:21 am

    "Just because you're allowed to spout whatever nonsense you want doesn't mean that you can force third parties to provide a stage, a sound system, and to bus in an audience."
    Unless, of course, they've contracted to do those things.

  126. James Pollock  •  Jun 22, 2013 @1:36 am

    "I was merely objecting to the comment before me, who equated the demand for the book not to be funded on Kickstarter with some sort of political thought-police, trying to silence something they don't like."

    That's what it was. Now, whether they have a right to make such demands (they do) or whether they were right to make those demands (debatable) are separate matters… there's just no way to argue "we aren't trying to silence speech we disagree with" after you've just tried to silence speech you disagree with.

    "This was *not* about feminist harpies trying to emasculate men and take over the world, despite what some comments on Kickstarter's post might lead to believe…"
    I'm willing to take your word for that, and I didn't claim otherwise. But the question of WHY they tried to silence a voice they disagreed with doesn't change the fact that they did, in fact, try to silence a voice they disagreed with.

  127. Scott  •  Jun 22, 2013 @4:32 am

    Not exactly.

    The project was basically a handbook for sexual harassment.
    This is not over-thinking things, or interpreting, the author textually said to force yourself upon the woman (at several moments of the "seduction"), because they secretly love that, and to only back off – temporarily – if she said a clear no. After having been forcefully sat on the "artist's" lap, for example.

    I just Google'd "rape fantasy porn", the second result is a link to a video called "Husband's Revenge" (I threw up in my mouth a little bit when I read the title). I am sure there are BDSM websites that instruct men how to restrain women. Why hasn't this neo-Moral Majority faction petitioned Google to remove this type of material from web searches? Because they know Google would laugh at them and they wouldn't get anywhere?

    That is EXACTLY why. The same goes for why they don't petition the GOVERNMENT to specifically censor material. It isn't because they believe in freedom of speech, it is because the body they would be appealing to would simply ignore them and their need for validation.

    So, this was not a matter of "not liking" the book, they believed it to be directly dangerous, for physical (and mental…) health of women.

    That makes them crazy and stupid. Books do not rape people, rapists rape people. This is something that I thought we could all agree on, but now instead of victim blaming, we are swinging to the other side of the spectrum and blaming books that haven't even been written yet.

    Now, I'm well aware that doesn't change in he question of free speech, censorship, and all, given the book had not been ruled illegal.
    But it does matter if you start mentioning reasonings and motivations.
    This was *not* about suppressing a speech they felt distasteful. This was not a "this is demeaning to women because it objectifies them".

    That has been said, but it was not the reason for the demand. Perceived direct physical threat was.

    I read the excerpts, I found them to be tasteless and trite. They are written by someone with a serious personality disorder. They are not written by or for rapists. There is no direct physical threat here. It is a book that hasn't even been published.

    (Yes I'm a woman, in case you're wondering, and reading the excerpts scared me. As in "Ok, I'm not going to have a drink in public anytime soon this year." scared, the idea of a stranger touching me like described had me trembling behind my computer. If that happened IRL, I'd probably pass out on the spot. >_

    I am not trying to be abrasive or insulting, but if reading this stuff is causing unpleasant physical reactions like this, you should probably avoid reading it, and if you aren't speaking to a psychiatrist or therapist already, you may want to. It sounds like there's something else going on here. I have one that has helped me tremendously.

    Again, I'm aware this hardly matters regarding the question of censorship, legitimacy of Kickstarter's policy and all. I'm only answering the comment about "They have adopted suppressive practices as a means of control. The Church of Scientology used these exact same practices in the early 2000s".
    That comparison was unfair, control of ideas and speech was not the problem here. :/

    I disagree. Like I said, books do not rape people. The excerpts are in extremely poor taste, but I don't think they quite qualify as inciteful

  128. Tarrou  •  Jun 22, 2013 @5:16 am

    Ken, I like your stuff, but this argument seems to be a bit off.

    1: Strawman people you don't like (no one you quoted is shouting censorship, or demanding government action).

    2: Go on about how much you don't like them, with your generally scathing set of adjectives.

    3: Profit? Because profit is the third thing in any internet list.

    Look, I agree to the point that I don't think the government should be forcing Kickstrter to publish things they don't want to. But we as a society do seem to have quite a few things that private entities cannot discriminate on or are forced to discriminate on (think a restaurant which Klan members eat at in full uniform) either by law or dominant social pressure. There is a difference between law and pressure, but pressure is often the more powerful force.

    Furthermore, I find the marginalization of male sexuality to be entirely at odds with the governing social mores of female, gay and intersex sexuality. Let's stipulate that this particular PUA is a particularly egregious one. Kickstarter didn't ban that guy from using their site, but a whole class of people (which they get to define). Once again, it's perfectly legal, and perfectly in line with social convention, but I think the latter is problematic. As noted above, I don't see a push to get businesses to drop female authors who advocate dishonesty or manipulative strategies to female daters.

    Lastly, I submit to Ken that he has missed the point and stereotyped the larger community of which the more extreme and immature PUAs are a part. There is certainly a lot of objectionable content, especially in the comment sections of many of these sites. Of course, anywhere on the internet dispensing dating advice may be a draw for the less successful socially, shall we say? But for every "poofy hat" douche, there are guys ranging from the incongruous (fundamentalist christian "game"?) to the more mature (Kay?). One need not agree with everything said to see that shutting down a whole class of opinion from one group only (men) is problematic. The predominant social winds are currently against men dispensing suspect advice to other men to try to get laid. Which is why Ken and some commentators feel comfortable heaping such scorn in a manner they'd never dream of doing to women in a similar situation. Perhaps I'm wrong there, but this whole dogpile leaves me wanting to defend the (almost) indefensible.

  129. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 22, 2013 @6:38 am

    @ Scott

    You are assuming that no person who believes a book advocating rape is wrong has ever petitioned Google to "remove this type of material from web searches". That is highly unlikely. Do you have any basis for that assumption?

    The same may be said about your assumption that nobody asks the government to specifically censor people. That is done quite often actually.

    I can provide you with numerous examples of the times when Google (and the government) listened to such petitions and acted on them. Heck, a large part of Google's business model is built on advancing one group's speech over another's. It's known as advertising.

    I wonder if Google accepts advertising contracts for any and all customers. Bet you a pizza they do not. On the other hand, if you paid them enough or had enough power – if you were China, let's say – they might go ahead and change their "stance".

    Finally, I hope my response to your argument helps to fulfill your need for validation.

  130. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 22, 2013 @7:36 am

    Google does suppress results it feels are manipulating its algorithm to show up high in the results of searches for people who aren't looking for sites like theirs. If you put the entire dictionary in your meta tags, you aren't going to show up at the top of the results anymore. You may not get indexed at all.

    Google also has a safe search feature that will suppress sites based on content. You may not be able to get Google to stop indexing this guy's site, but you might be able to get them to thinking about excluding it from safe searches. (The fact is that many people are looking for such sites for research purposes, like trying to figure out why the comments to this post are so long. Even people who hate the speech still want to be able to find it when they want to, just not when they don't. Google serves that audience; other search engines may not. It's their choice.)

    As far as people following you around shouting their speech in public areas, IANAL, but I thought that the Supreme Court has upheld the right of Westboro Baptist to do just that, and that it has overturned laws that prevented panhandling, because "I live in your city and I'm hungry" is protected speech?

  131. John Kindley  •  Jun 22, 2013 @8:19 am

    The Popehat authors get to edit each others' posts? That's a new one.

  132. jdgalt  •  Jun 22, 2013 @8:30 am

    There is more than one important line to be drawn in a situation like this. Yes, in principle, a private owner is entitled to exclude whom he/she/they wishes (though I might insist on limiting that if the business is receiving tax funds, or if it holds any sort of limited, state-issued right (say, a broadcast license) that makes it less than practical for others to go into the same line of business).

    But that right to exclude goes both ways. It is perfectly reasonable for people who disagree with Kickstarter's decision to start a boycott of Kickstarter or its allies in retaliation for their boycott. And using words like "censorship" in such a campaign is not excessive, as long as neither side calls for government action against their opponents.

  133. En Passant  •  Jun 22, 2013 @9:26 am

    Paul E. Merrell wrote Jun 21, 2013 @11:47 pm:

    Finally, there is a precedent of sorts in the U.S. with regulation of activities that involve both private entities and government-owned resources, for examplle statutes governing use of the unshielded electronic spectrum that the government claims to own and regulates. … In that regard, let's not forget that the Internet at least initially was owned by the U.S. government, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, and there is a revived neocon movement to reassert federal ownership of cyberspace, analogously to federal ownership of the unshielded electronic spectrum.

    In an infinite universe, anything is possible.

    But even if every neocon in the known universe flapped his arms and wagged his tongue as furiously as humanly possible, I don't think that turkey would even reach rotation speed.

  134. Christina  •  Jun 22, 2013 @9:53 am

    I don't know a lot about the history of private-to-public transitions, but they obviously happen – telephones, electricity started off as completely private business entities in 1900 and now are a public/private hybrid. If "living room" is the extreme of private-can-do-anything and "government" is the extreme of public-must-abide-everything, there is a huge swath of hybrid and transitioning institutions and spaces. The internet is such a space, and businesses in that space are in different places; people likely expect more transparency and non-discrimination from Google than they care about from Kickstarter.

    There are differences in the handling of public and private corporations, as well. So it gets into the same Heinleinian space as Ken referenced in his previous article – no free lunch. The more private an individual or entity keeps themselves, the more freedom they have to do as they wish. The more thrust into the public realm, the more others' freedoms must be respected.

    The question of de jure versus de facto power is also an interesting one. The government, that's de jure and the requirements to safeguard rights and liberties are well explored if not perfectly arbitrated. But Google, a private company, has so much de facto power in a space most people consider very public. It's been twenty-plus years for corporate internet; it looks like local telephone exchanges went live in the 1880s, in 1913 the government got involved by sanctioning the monopoly while requiring smaller businesses to be connected to the network, 1934 became a regulated monopoly, and in 1984 the monopoly was broken.

  135. Richard Gadsden  •  Jun 22, 2013 @10:32 am

    In the specific, I have no especial objection to Kickstarter banning this; indeed had I been aware of the petition before it ended, I would probably have signed it.

    But there should be limits to the capacity of private entities to restrict speech. I'm thinking particularly of malls preventing people from leafletting outside businesses within the mall, whereas you can leaflet customers outside a McDonald's that's on a public street. Privatising what was once public space in that way is troubling to me. I don't have a clear answer to what should be done about it, but I'm not convinced that refusing to shop in the mall is the whole solution.

    We do, in general, apply different rules to businesses that offer a service as a public accomodation.

    PS, enforcing a contract that restricts freedom of speech is governmental action; they could state that such contracts are unconscionable.

  136. David  •  Jun 22, 2013 @11:15 am

    @John Kindley

    The Popehat authors get to edit each others' posts? That's a new one.

    I know, right? Bad form! (– unless specifically authorized. Perhaps it was.)

  137. Kerry  •  Jun 22, 2013 @11:30 am

    @Scott "It is the acceptance of "stifle it" as a solution to objectionable content that is disturbing"

    I agree that it's disturbing, but I think people do it *specifically because* it blows up to such big proportions and creates greater public awareness of an issue. There are 10,000 notes on this Tumblr post about the issue: http://caseymalone.com/post/53339539674/this-is-not-fucking-harmless
    and hundreds (thousands?) of blog posts and tweets: https://twitter.com/search?q=kickstarter%20pua&src=typd. If not for the campaign, the Kickstarter project would probably have still been funded, but far fewer people would have known or talked about it. I don't think a "Hey, this PUA guy on Kickstarter is kinda sleazy, amirite?" campaign would have had nearly the same effect. Censorship is not the goal, awareness is – but "think about this" just doesn't get the same kind of visceral reaction or the same level of coverage as threats of censorship.

    I agree that more speech, not censorship, should be the primary goal, but calls for censorship are increasingly what incite the greatest amount of speech about an issue. Additionally, by being so predictable in pulling out the pitchforks and crying "censorship" in response to any disagreement, certain groups (PUAs, MRAs, Redditors) have made themselves *that much more susceptible* to calls for censorship – to which they react with exactly the indignation and furor that stoke more media coverage of an issue.

    I'm not sure what to call that except good marketing/PR on the would-be "censors'" part, and not sure what to do about it except acknowledge that misunderstanding "censorship" and "free speech" hurts us all.

  138. Matt S Trout (mst)  •  Jun 22, 2013 @12:28 pm

    @Ken

    > My point is not only that — it's also that criticism is necessarily saying "you should allow speech you don't like on your platform even if it costs you money."

    Pedantic perhaps, but I'd argue that while much criticism is probably saying exactly that, I'd only extend the adjective 'necessarily' as far as "even if you believe it will cost you money" – after all, just because a decision is based on commercial reasoning doesn't automatically mean that reasoning is entirely sound.

    Although: While I have encountered material that I would refer to as "white hat pickup", I don't ever recall encountering a particular author whose whole material I would refer to as such, so trying to distinguish specifically "bad PUA" is probably nigh on impossible as well as horribly subjective – which suggests to me that in this case, at least for the near term, kickstarter's reasoning is absolutely commercially sound.

    But that's my analysis only and I'm willing to accept there's room for criticism of the decision on the basis of a commercial analysis that leads to different conclusions, and I think it's worth distinguishing that sort of criticism from the rest, if only to bring into starker contrast the sheer futility of asking an organisation to act against its own best interests in the name of an external moral view.

  139. Scott  •  Jun 22, 2013 @4:18 pm

    @Mark

    I don't really need validation, what I need is to live in a world with at least one less person who thinks censorship is a solution to depravity.

    I would love to see those examples, but I'm afraid that like the rest of your answer to what I said earlier, it wouldn't really have anything to do with the point I was making. Neither Google nor the government influence my moral compass whatsoever, and I used them as examples of bodies that a) allow more heinous material to exist b) don`t listen to the majority of calls for censorship (they certainly wouldn`t listen to these ones)

    The flaw here is not in Kickstarter`s actions, it is in the mentality of the people who petitioned to have the project removed. I don`t want the book published. I think it`s garbage, along with the pick up artist industry as a whole. However, I also know enough about how the world works to recognize that the mindset behind the petition is dangerous.

    Whether it is technically censorship in the legal sense is relatively unimportant to me. I`m concerned with censorship as a goal, which is exactly what the petition people had in mind. Not semantics.

  140. barry  •  Jun 22, 2013 @6:06 pm

    @scott

    That makes them crazy and stupid. Books do not rape people, rapists rape people.

    There are similarities and differences, but what if the book was "Improvised Bomb Making for Extremist Nutters"? Would you still characterize people who objected to its publication as mindless sheep and drones because 'bomb manuals don't kill people, bombs kill people'? (assuming a world where it is legal to publish that book)

    Your objections seem more about the consumers right to organize.

  141. Josh C  •  Jun 22, 2013 @6:29 pm

    @Barry,

    I don't know about him, but I absolutely would. See:
    The Anarchist Cookbook http://www.amazon.com/dp/1607965232
    or Steal This Book http://www.amazon.com/Steal-This-Book-Abbie-Hoffman/dp/156858217X

  142. Marzipan  •  Jun 22, 2013 @6:42 pm

    An interesting compendium on what constitutes censorship from PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/whodecides/definitions.html

    The narrow definition requires censorship to be governmental in nature, but a broader reading of the construct implies it applies even at the individual level. Perhaps the use of adjectives for "governmental" vs. "private" vs. "business" vs. … well, whatever other unit of censorship analysis people want to consider would be helpful.

    I also wonder the degree to which confusion between freedoms of the press and of assembly may be getting confused in some of the comments. For example, from my understanding, refusal to serve black patrons because of their race would fall under the aegis of freedom of assembly, whereas suppressing black authors because of their race would fall under the aegis of freedom of the press. It's only the latter that would be considered at issue with censorship – though the freedom of speech generally would cover non-printed speech and curtail its governmental censorship.

    So would Kickstarter's actions be more about the right to assemble, the right to the free press, or the right to free speech? It seems more like the former to me, in which case "censorship" would not even be the proper term for what's going on here.

  143. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 22, 2013 @7:36 pm

    @ Scott

    Then you may want to consider the possibility that another person might make an argument for reasons other than to feel validated.

    "Why hasn't this neo-Moral Majority faction petitioned Google to remove this type of material from web searches? Because they know Google would laugh at them and they wouldn't get anywhere?

    That is EXACTLY why. The same goes for why they don't petition the GOVERNMENT to specifically censor material. It isn't because they believe in freedom of speech, it is because the body they would be appealing to would simply ignore them and their need for validation."

    "I would love to see those examples, but I'm afraid that like the rest of your answer to what I said earlier, it wouldn't really have anything to do with the point I was making."

    So your assumption about their being zero requests to Google on this subject has nothing to do with the actual number of requests to Google on this subject.

    Ok.

    If you would like to see a small part of the removal requests received by Google you could start here.

    http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/

    (It's a handy report for PRISM stuff too, kinda.)
    Or if you prefer, I can provide you with links for the different forms Google provides for other removal requests – harassment, offensive, inciting, etc. etc. etc.

    The over 3 million requests for removals on copyright was interesting. Also, the report for government requests says they complied with 50% of removal requests last year. So they acted on half of those….

    "Neither Google nor the government influence my moral compass whatsoever, and I used them as examples of bodies that a) allow more heinous material to exist b) don`t listen to the majority of calls for censorship

    Maybe they just acted on half, but only listened to a minority? That sounds worse somehow…

  144. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 22, 2013 @7:38 pm

    Woops. That part above should say "3 million requests *per week*"

  145. James Pollock  •  Jun 22, 2013 @9:55 pm

    "There are similarities and differences, but what if the book was "Improvised Bomb Making for Extremist Nutters"? Would you still characterize people who objected to its publication as mindless sheep and drones because 'bomb manuals don't kill people, bombs kill people'? (assuming a world where it is legal to publish that book)"

    The difference, of course, is that nutters may or may not know how to improvise bombs, but rapists already know how to rape. Your analogy would be apt if the book in question taught rapists how to get away with it (say, by destroying or contaminating forensic evidence) in ways that aren't already widely known.

  146. James Pollock  •  Jun 22, 2013 @10:19 pm

    "So would Kickstarter's actions be more about the right to assemble, the right to the free press, or the right to free speech? It seems more like the former to me, in which case "censorship" would not even be the proper term for what's going on here."

    It's none of these. Kickstarter is asserting the right of publicity, one of the lesser-known rights. Not wanting to be publicly associated with a project or cause they don't approve of is not quite the same thing. This is why the makers of Preparation H or Viagra can't just list off a bunch of famous people who use their products, even if each one of them does, in fact, use their products. (Also, Kickstarter is asserting rights of property, which are also constitutionally protected although constitutional protections aren't implicated in this dispute.)

  147. Tarrou  •  Jun 23, 2013 @5:51 am

    I must say I find it sad and ironic that some people cannot divine the difference between subjectively creepy behavior and rape. Does anyone find it odd that people seem to be convinced that a book which the entire thesis is to gain voluntary access to women (no matter the effectiveness of said strategies) is being condemned as supporting rape? The entire PUA community is built around manipulation, not force. All those ridiculous strategies are ways to get consent, not to avoid it. Some may be "creepy" (although that word is so over-used I'm a bit confused as to its parameters anymore), but they are fundamentally the opposite of rape. To steal Ken's hyper-simplification, one does not need UP LEFT BB UP DOWN B if one's goal is A (where A= rape). The entire edifice of picking up girls is predicated on getting girls to find you attractive and to want to sleep with you. As I said, you can debate the effectiveness of specific strategies (and I wonder, which would be more horrifying to the violets here, if the strategies didn't work, or if they did?), but to equate them with rape is just wrong, dishonest and offensive.

  148. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 23, 2013 @6:07 am

    It's Kickstarter's choice. They get to decide which of their clients they will respond to — the ones who launch projects, who pay a portion of the money they raise; or the people who fund projects, who browse through the website looking for things they find interesting.

    If there is a subset of people (a subset that may potentially constitute 10-30% of women) who find a project so offensive that they would stop browsing KS's site rather unexpectedly coming across something like that, then KS may find it in their best business interest to suppress that projects.

    Google's decisions are based on the fact that they sucked users away from other search engines like Yahoo and Alta Vista because their search results were more comprehensive. People still use Yahoo, but they use it for other reasons.

    A business can have ethics, but they also have to pick a business model and not pick other business models that aren't compatible with one another. And they generally need to differentiate themselves from some other business in some way, or else one of them will always put the other out of business eventually, just as organisms obey Gause's law of competitive exclusion.

  149. John Kindley  •  Jun 23, 2013 @8:06 am

    Isn't each corporation a tentacle of Leviathan, a legal fiction created by a legal fiction? There is, if any, one and the same moral law that applies to all, not one law that applies to the State and another that applies to people. Kickstarter's suppression of speech in this case is not without the character of force, and not without the force of the State, just as "Whites Only" lunch counters were not lacking force in the years before the Civil Rights Act. If I am an invitee at Ken's house, or his blog for that matter, and I am ejected or even ridiculed for expressing an unpopular but in my opinion right opinion, I am not precluded from complaining. "Censorship" may not be the right word for Ken's in my opinion wrongful ejection of me, but what word is? Who's "right" in this situation depends largely on who's right in the first place. I'm reminded of Isabel Paterson's point that government per se is not force. Rather, force is what is governed. Government originates in the moral faculty. Incidentally and paradoxically, following Max Stirner, I'm not exactly a free speech absolutist, in that I think it's absurd for the State (or by extension a corporation) to willingly permit speech inimical to its very existence. But you can nevertheless infer from my opinion that the State is a mere fiction, a spook, that it is precisely speech inimical to the State's very existence that I value most highly.

  150. Kat  •  Jun 23, 2013 @9:00 am

    I don't want to derail the discussion, but I wanted to add something.

    First of all, I'm not saying that censorship is the only/best answer to battling the problems I'm about to talk about. I actually think that awareness campaigns are the solution that should have the most attention. I am personally happy that Kickstarter decided to remove the project, but it's on a level of me being grateful that Kickstarter is committing itself to creating a safe space for women by whatever means it deems necessary. As Ken points out, they are a business and they can decide whether something goes against the message they want to send. I don't support government censorship unless it's for something like the Anarchist's Cookbook (as mentioned by James Pollock above).

    Books do not rape people, rapists rape people.

    Books encourage rape culture, which is part of the reason why rape is so prevalent in American society. For example:

    Men who have peer support for behaving in an emotionally violent manner toward women and for being physically and sexually violent toward women are 10 times more likely to commit sexual aggression toward women. (Source)

    A significant portion of the population of offenders surveyed by two separate researchers freely admitted to having raped someone, so long as the behavior was described using terms that didn't include the word "rape." (See the source for this to get a look at the exact questions asked.)

    Here is what is most interesting to me, and which says the most about the need to combat rape culture. In 2011, the city of Vancouver ran a set of ads that said things like, "Just because she isn’t saying no doesn’t mean she is saying yes" and "Sex without consent = sexual assault. Don’t Be That Guy." The result?

    Six months later, Deputy Chief Doug LePard says the Don’t Be That Guy campaign has contributed to a turnaround in statistics on sexual offences in Vancouver.

    The rate dropped in 2011 by about 10 per cent, the first time in several years it had gone down.

    It had been increasing as much as 22-29% each year; if action wasn't taken there probably would have been another increase, but it went down instead. That's a pretty significant difference (I'm not good with math, but it is a 30%-40% spread).

    What is REALLY really most significant is this:

    All members of the police department were trained on investigative techniques for sexual assault cases. The seriousness of the crime was reinforced. Most minor sexual offences, such as sexual exposing, often lead to more serious crimes, such as sexual assaults, Deputy Chief Lepard said.

    Basically, Vancouver took a stand against rape culture and saw a 10% drop instead of a 22% rise in sexual assaults in one year.

    To me this says: combating rape culture is both important and effective.

    The difference, of course, is that nutters may or may not know how to improvise bombs, but rapists already know how to rape.

    This is true, but I wanted to mention that I don't think this is where people's concerns are coming from. People (not just women) who wanted the project taken down are not afraid that the book will teach men new ways of assaulting that they didn't already know. For one thing, the behaviors he described do not fit the statutory definitions of rape, which usually requires there to be penetration. What people object to is the furtherance of rape culture and the normalization of criminal acts that, while not covered under rape laws, are still unacceptable and illegal.

    I find it sad and ironic that some people cannot divine the difference between subjectively creepy behavior and rape.

    It's true that the behavior the author describes in his book is not rape. It is worth mentioning that it's sexual battery in many states, which is still a crime, though a lesser one. For example, in California:

    (1) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is
    for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or
    sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery

    Here's where it gets creepy for me:

    If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away, you know she is not interested.

    I am aware that different people will take different meanings away from the above because they have different experiences informing them. When I read quotes such as the above, here's what runs through my mind. If a woman is yelling "GET AWAY FROM ME" or shoving you, you've probably already committed sexual battery and she's reacting to that. Personally, I'm extremely unlikely to want to yell at someone unless the behavior has passed from legal but egregious to illegal and dangerous to me. I don't like making public scenes (because it's "unladylike" or "bitchy"). I have actually had sexual battery committed on me at work and I did not yell at the person involved or push him away; I froze up and got the 'deer in the headlights' reaction. Even when what the fellow did to me was a crime, I didn't react in the way the author is describing. To get that reaction out of me, there would need to be some pretty egregious behavior.

    As mentioned before, there is still a lot of room for debate on this topic. I'm not trying to shout anybody down. It just seemed to me like there were a few misconceptions about the nature of the objections being given here. I know that the descriptions above don't cover my objections to the content, nor do they describe why I'm glad that Kickstarter took action but would not be glad if the government decided tomorrow to ban seduction manuals. So I felt the need to describe how I feel about it and what I have taken away from the other blog posts I have read on the subject. I'm not saying that there aren't some people who would be glad to enact censorship tomorrow or who believe that the behavior above is covered under the statutory definition of rape; but I do strongly believe that the number of people who I just described constitute a small percentage for the reasons listed above.

  151. Kat  •  Jun 23, 2013 @9:02 am
  152. Nat Gertler  •  Jun 23, 2013 @9:44 am

    "Kickstarter didn't ban that guy from using their site, but a whole class of people (which they get to define)."

    No, actually, they didn't ban any people. What they banned was product. PUAs are still perfectly free to post Kickstarters for their how-to video on sandwichmaking or their knit robots. People who aren't PUAs are also banned from Kickstartering pickup books, although they likely aren't feeling any pain from that.

    Kickstarter has had restrictions and filters on what gets Kickstartered. This is not the case of a public access system suddenly being given an exception. This is a very small change in the Kickstarter guidelines.

    A Kickstarter campaign is in effect a product carried on commission. The site chooses what campaigns to put on its shelves, and gets a cut from the sales, so curating what they carry is in their fair interest.

    The difference between discriminating against people and against product is huge. It is the difference between running Bob's Pork Palace and running Bob's Restaurant with a sign "no Jews or Muslims allowed". The local vibrator store is not being antisemitic if they don't also carry yarmulkas.

    It is also part of what makes the cake case worrisome. The discrimination was against the person, not the product. It was not a matter of just we-don't-have-any-two-groom-toppers-in-stock, it was that the prospective customer was homosexual, and thus would not be allowed to buy the same cake that a straight person had just bought. (It is also disturbing because cake, no matter how decorated, is food; would it be okay for the supermarket to refuse to "celebrate their homosexual lifestyle" by selling them food? What if it was ever supermarket in the county? And yes, I am aware that there are some here for whom that answer is "yes".)

    And no, Costco was not censoring Joan Rivers. They were not telling her what she could publish. They were choosing what they would put on their shelves; Costco was censoring Costco.

  153. jpw  •  Jun 23, 2013 @10:40 am

    So kickstarter can refuse the business of any minority they choose as long as it isn't one championed by liberals. Regardless of what you call it, it is the same thing. Company a is refusing to do business with group b. Maybe they should just make the pua's sit in the back of the packet, that way liberals will take up the cause. Or maybe they can only post by the back door…
    So it's okay for any company to decide not to do business with you unless you happen to be non-white, non-male, non-physically perfect, non-christian…. You get the point. Now tell me how it's actually different and justify yourself and your policy of why some groups deserve exceptions and others do not.

  154. John Burgess  •  Jun 23, 2013 @12:43 pm

    Ken said: "You are right that groups have no right not to be offended."

    I think this is wrong. Individuals and groups of like-minded individuals have every right to be offended by whatever the hell they decide offends them.

    They do not necessarily have any further rights, however, as in burning the one who commits the offense, stoning his home, torturing his pets.

    Under the First Amendment, they do have the right to assemble. They have the right to petition the government to act in ways they think fit. They have the right to seek to amend the Constitution in ways that would outlaw behavior they find offensive.

    They do not have the right to stretch the Constitution, however.

  155. Kat  •  Jun 23, 2013 @1:27 pm

    @jpw, the comment above yours addressed that point.

  156. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @1:55 pm

    "And no, Costco was not censoring Joan Rivers. They were not telling her what she could publish. They were choosing what they would put on their shelves; Costco was censoring Costco."

    Costco was censoring Joan Rivers. It is a mild censorship, in that it extended only to the limits of Costco's premises, but that doesn't make it not censorship, it just makes it less effective censorship. If the library takes a book off the shelves, it is still censorship even if you can buy that book in the the bookstore across the street. If China limits access to the Internet it is still censorship if you can get full Internet access outside China.
    Censorship exists throughout human culture, at all levels from censoring one's own speech depending on the audience up to the government's decision to criminally punish possession of child pornography or revelation of the extent of NSA monitoring of telecommunications.
    Note that the question of whether or not it was censorship (it was) is separate from the question of whether or not Costco is authorized to conduct that censorship (they are).

  157. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @2:08 pm

    "This is true, but I wanted to mention that I don't think this is where people's concerns are coming from. People (not just women) who wanted the project taken down are not afraid that the book will teach men new ways of assaulting that they didn't already know. For one thing, the behaviors he described do not fit the statutory definitions of rape, which usually requires there to be penetration. What people object to is the furtherance of rape culture and the normalization of criminal acts that, while not covered under rape laws, are still unacceptable and illegal."
    The quote you pulled wasn't about the Kickstarter kerfuffle, it was attacking a specific analogy offered.
    The fact that the women (and some men, I'm assuming) "attacked" Kickstarter for a good reason doesn't negate the fact that they attempted to silence an opinion they disapprove of. Yes, people have a right to complain about things that bother then and a right to raise their concerns. However, the "correct" response to bad speech is more speech. From your own narrative, Vancouver (I'm assuming the one in Canada) achieved a reduction in rape culture not by silencing anyone, but by running an informational campaign. Trying to silence people whose opinions alarm you, on the other hand, is a (pardon the expression) dick move.

  158. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @2:13 pm

    "I must say I find it sad and ironic that some people cannot divine the difference between subjectively creepy behavior and rape."
    While I agree with you in principle, the line isn't as firmly drawn in the law.
    Consider: If sexual congress is viewed in terms of contract (offer, acceptance, performance), then consent obtained by deception is fraudulently obtained and thus revocable by the innocent party. And sex without consent is rape, definitionally. So it comes down to determining "marketing puffery" from misrepresentation of material fact.

  159. riesling  •  Jun 23, 2013 @2:26 pm

    James Pollock had a great argument going there in the beginning. I'll add the logical conclusion that James stopped short of. This is a fuller realization of the "public accommodation" concept which presently is only partially represented in current law – current law should be changed to the system I advocate below.

    Corporations are not people. Businesses are public accomodations. Their discretion is limited to defining the business that they are in, subject to a few conditions.

    One condition is that the business must describe its market in a coherent and compact way, without ambiguity. Good example: College textbooks. Good example: College textbooks relating to the study of Health Sciences. Bad example: Novels, except for those the business finds offensive. (ambiguity) Good example: Novels written in English. Bad example: Novels written in English, but only by the following 2,548 authors. (compactness) Bad example: Canola oil, blank DVDs, and dog leashes. (coherence)

    Another condition is that the business cannot change markets within a microsecond. The market definition must be on file with a government agency and can only be changed once a month, taking effect the following month.

    Within the market the business defines, it must serve all customers without discrimination based upon either customer identity or product identity.

    Some have objected that a store can only contain a finite number of items. Apparently these objectors have never heard of a "special order" which is the standard procedure used by stores to fill orders for products for which they do not routinely carry inventory.

  160. busyba  •  Jun 23, 2013 @2:37 pm

    I see a rant against decrying Kickstarter's actions as censorship, and I see some quotes complaining about Kickstarter's actions, but nowhere in those quotes do I see any mention or even hint of a mention of censorship.

    Did I miss something?

  161. Kat  •  Jun 23, 2013 @2:50 pm

    it was attacking a specific analogy offered.

    Fair! Sorry for the misreading. :)

    Trying to silence people whose opinions alarm you, on the other hand, is a (pardon the expression) dick move.

    Fundamentally I agree with you ("I actually think that awareness campaigns are the solution that should have the most attention."), but at the same time, I think there's a lot of room for debate about whether it's morally wrong to petition a business to remove a product that one doesn't agree with. It might be a dick move, but it's totally legit as a form of speech, to me.

    If a business such as Wal-Mart decides tomorrow that they won't carry feminist works I'll be upset and I will criticize them for that, and I'll say that it was a dick move for people to even call for that, but at the end of the day it was Wal-Mart's decision and I would hold them primarily accountable/primarily the target of my criticism. I might then try to pressure them to bring feminist works back to their shelves, or I might simply shop elsewhere. But again, I see that as a legit form of speech that I'm allowed to exercise, even if it is dickish.

    The author is still allowed to seek other venues. The situation would be significantly different if he was just plain outlawed straight up from ever releasing his work. But he's not–he can go to another business, and he can publish his stuff on the internet and solicit donations via his own site. That's one key difference between government censorship and private censorship that seems substantive to me.

    I don't know if I'm explaining this properly or if the above makes sense, but basically I'm cool with people asking for stuff they don't like to be taken out of businesses. I wouldn't be cool if the government got to make that call because the government is bound by constitutional law not to do that shit, for reasons that are very good and that I assume everybody here is both aware of and cool with (otherwise this post would have to be much longer than it is). I'm drawing a distinction between private citizens who have happened to organize vs. the government as the arbiter of law and what actions one can take but the other cannot take.

    There are a lot of issues that could be debated, such as the issue of de facto power vs. de jure power and whether it is censorship in fact if a media monopoly decides that they won't air content about one particular subject. But I don't think that this particular situation would qualify as meeting that criterion. Yes, kickstarter is popular, but they don't have a monopoly on crowdfunding–for example, indiegogo is another popular competitor that saw increased business following positive media campaigns. http://mashable.com/2012/12/06/kickstarter-alternatives/ Kickstarter does have a large market share, but people are already looking for alternatives; I've actually seen a lot of posts on tumblr saying "they shouldn't have funded it in the first place, so we're going elsewhere and here's where to go." Others are saying, "Kickstarter promotes censorship, so we're going elsewhere and here's where to go."

    I hope I've made sense above and made my position a little clearer.

  162. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @3:18 pm

    "The author is still allowed to seek other venues. The situation would be significantly different if he was just plain outlawed straight up from ever releasing his work. But he's not–he can go to another business, and he can publish his stuff on the internet and solicit donations via his own site. That's one key difference between government censorship and private censorship that seems substantive to me."

    The difference is only one of scale, not of character. After all, even if the U.S. completely forbids publication, distribution, or sales of a work, there are other countries where you can have those works published, distributed, and sold.

    "I wouldn't be cool if the government got to make that call because the government is bound by constitutional law not to do that shit, for reasons that are very good and that I assume everybody here is both aware of and cool with (otherwise this post would have to be much longer than it is)"
    The reasons to criticise or oppose censorship apply equally well no matter who is doing the censorship. The law is different depending on who's doing it, and the recourses available are different, but the basic reasoning is not.

    Again, yes, people have a right to demand that businesses do or not do anything; with few exceptions (such as public accomodations law or consumer protection law), they do not have a right to expect that business to comply or even listen to their complaints. On the other hand, having the right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do.

  163. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @3:29 pm

    Also, a business has the right (with certain exceptions, such as public accommodation laws or consumer protection laws) to cower before the demands of a particularly vocal customer or group of customers, or to stand up to them. (biased phrasing intended.)

  164. Tarrou  •  Jun 23, 2013 @3:39 pm

    @ James Pollock

    " If sexual congress is viewed in terms of contract (offer, acceptance, performance), then consent obtained by deception is fraudulently obtained and thus revocable by the innocent party. And sex without consent is rape, definitionally. So it comes down to determining "marketing puffery" from misrepresentation of material fact."

    In that case, I accuse every woman I've ever slept with of rape. They all wore makeup which concealed their physical flaws and clothes which artificially enhanced their appearance. Plus, I was often intoxicated, and thus was incapable of giving consent. Many of them lied about personal matters, like height, weight, age. Thus was I deceived and defrauded into committing sexual congress with women of a lower attractiveness than I would have otherwise done.

    You see how ridiculous that becomes when it is a man saying it instead of a woman? That's what I'm talking about. The primary bias test of any argument is if the actors can be switched without harming the argument. This fails, hilariously.

  165. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @4:41 pm

    "In that case, I accuse every woman I've ever slept with of rape."
    OK. Let's apply contract law to your claims.

    "They all wore makeup which concealed their physical flaws and clothes which artificially enhanced their appearance."
    Did you fail to inspect the goods offered before accepting them? If so, you may not revoke after acceptance.

    "Plus, I was often intoxicated, and thus was incapable of giving consent."
    Voluntary intoxication does not make a contract voidable.

    "Many of them lied about personal matters, like height, weight, age."
    Again failure to inspect is a probable bar to your claims. Then there is the question of "advertising puffery" vs. material misrepresentation. At the time the contract was consummated, you were aware of the actual height and weight and approximate age of your contracting partner, yet you went ahead with the transaction. It is reasonable to infer that those misrepresentations, although actual, were not material. You might have a case if your partner misrepresented her age as over 18 when it was not. I'm going to assume that this is NOT the type of misrepresentation of age you are referring to.

    "Thus was I deceived and defrauded into committing sexual congress with women of a lower attractiveness than I would have otherwise done."
    As a logical argument, this is flatly ridiculous, as obviously the women you had sexual congress with ARE the level of attractiveness you would have otherwise had sex with, or you would have instead been having sexual congress with those more attractive women (which, apparently, you were unable to attract. Maybe you should buy a book on the subject, or something.)

    "You see how ridiculous that becomes when it is a man saying it instead of a woman? That's what I'm talking about. The primary bias test of any argument is if the actors can be switched without harming the argument. This fails, hilariously."

    However, your taking it seriously is even MORE hilarious.

  166. Andrew Roth  •  Jun 23, 2013 @4:48 pm

    The "manosphere" is basically a social, intellectual and moral cul-de-sac for losers. There are exceptions, notably Mark Manson's Postmasculine and Roosh (whom I find a bit off but fundamentally decent enough), but as a rule the movement wreaks of social control mechanisms being imposed by cult leaders on the gullible and the desperate. Chateau Heartiste is an egregious example, much of its content being racial and sexual bigotry dredged in a coating of crude biological determinism.

    Many manosphere blogs have tell-tale signs of cult activity. Their comment threads are full of people who have suffered sexual and socioeconomic setbacks and who have deficient social skills and lives. They aggressively scapegoat out-groups, usually women or some nonmonogamous subset of women and feminized men, but sometimes also encompassing political leftists and liberals, secularists, racial minorities, and the poor. They use suspiciously uniform jargon, much of it hateful, e.g., "neg," "cum dumpster," "spinning plates," and "riding the cock carousel." I've been told that "cum dumpster" is also a common epithet among neofeminists, a group notorious for scapegoating women they find treacherous, especially prostitutes. I have seen "cock carousel" and variations thereof on Sunshine Mary and the Dragon, an antifeminist blog maintained by a woman who promotes herself as a pious Christian mother.

    By contrast, I have never come across a prostitute's blog or Twitter account that is even tinged with that sort of evil, and I've followed over a dozen at various times. These are street-smart women who do not have rosy views of human nature, but they have morals. Judging just by what they write, I'd have to put hookers in a class with nurses, physicians and dentists for trustworthiness, while I'd put most PUA bloggers in a class with Joel Osteen, Tanya Treadway and realtors.

    It occurs to me that the popularity of these cult blogs is a sort of dying canary in the societal coalmine, and that the same thing goes for most mainstream self-help literature. I see a similar dynamic at play in the prevalence of white supremacist affiliation around decaying rust belt cities. The common thread is that none of this stuff would have such resonance in an economically and socially healthy society. A lot of people realize, either implicitly or explicitly, that they're losers and that they are not about to get a hand up from the winners, so they turn to these insipid, corrosive ideologies as panaceas. They see a popular culture awash in sex, and then they become desperate about their own sexual frustration and grope around in the dark for quick fixes and scapegoats. They see a popular culture awash in imagery of wealth, and become desperate about their own poverty and grab on to scams such as multistate lotteries and the "prosperity gospel." They see a Democratic Party that is too posh, beholden to the wealthy, and witless around the lower working classes to offer them any real empathy or help, and so they cling to various authoritarian asshats: wedge-issue Republicans, tithing fetishist preachers, goose-stepping role-players who will let them join the club and relive that old Nuremberg glory. I've been one of the losers, so there but for the grace of God go I.

    In a way, the real problem is that what these losers find in their quests for self-improvement aren't the winners they need to improve their own lot, but other losers and opportunistic cult leaders and racketeers. Given the amount of social atomization, shame and covert classism that exists in the United States, it should come as no surprise that this sort of thing happens all the time.

  167. riesling  •  Jun 23, 2013 @5:02 pm

    Completely agree with Andrew Roth regarding the high trustworthiness of prostitutes and the positive nature of their subculture. It's high time to legalize (and regulate) their profession much more broadly than "certain rural counties in Nevada".

  168. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @5:30 pm

    But if prostitutes are trustworthy and politicians are prostitutes, … ?

  169. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 23, 2013 @6:15 pm

    "Costco was censoring Joan Rivers. It is a mild censorship, in that it extended only to the limits of Costco's premises, but that doesn't make it not censorship, it just makes it less effective censorship. If the library takes a book off the shelves, it is still censorship even if you can buy that book in the the bookstore across the street. If China limits access to the Internet it is still censorship if you can get full Internet access outside China."

    I can see how this is correct while at the same time it perfectly illustrates Ken's worry about weakening the term. Under this reasoning – which, again, I find no fault with – every government, bookstore, library, and human on the planet is guilty of censorship.

    As an extension of this, the more books or other media you own, sell, or otherwise can provide access to, the less you are a censor. The more books a store carries, the less censoring it is doing. Since no store provides access to *all* media – not even the internet – all stores are censors.

    Don't be a censor! Buy and sell more books!

    …I've heard worse slogans.

    Putting that aside, a word which may be applied to any entity who can hold, sell, or purchase media equally is not the most useful word for communication. Censor then turns into a fairly… mushy word.

    Context helps to remove some of that mushiness, sure, but then you are left with the problem of connotation. Currently, the word censorship rightly carries a very bad connotation of oppressive control. It just… feels weird when that connotation is applied to the relatively innocuous state of not providing access to all media.

    Personally, I will continue to use the term censor (-ship, -ing, -ed, etc.) in reference to governmental and authoritarian action almost exclusively. I only say almost because I'll still use it for "a guy who oversaw the census in ancient Rome – which doesn't come up very often. It might be just as accurate to do otherwise, but I would feel bad if censorship went the way of the word "awesome".

    poor, poor awesome…

  170. barry  •  Jun 23, 2013 @6:26 pm

    @James Pollock
    I was thinking more of the 'inspiring nature' of books. Your difference is comparing potential bombers with actual rapists. The book does not have to be a rape-manual to fit the analogy, it is enough if it encourages someone to not take 'no' for an answer who otherwise might. (I think this is pretty much what Kat said).

    I wasn't suggesting the book be banned, but that it wasn't just unreasonable 'stupid sheep drone' people who would campaign against it being published.

  171. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 23, 2013 @6:28 pm

    @jpw:

    So it's okay for any company to decide not to do business with you unless you happen to be non-white, non-male, non-physically perfect, non-christian

    The policy applies to the product, not the author. If a woman wrote a how-to manual for women who keep being hit on by PUA's telling them how to pretend to be interested and then apply Crazy Glue to strategic parts of the man's body, I would expect there would be equal indignation and a prompt response from KS. Those with less power in society are more likely to be the ones making the request, because they have more reason to be legitimately concerned about their physical safety.

  172. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @7:11 pm

    "Under this reasoning – which, again, I find no fault with – every government, bookstore, library, and human on the planet is guilty of censorship."
    You're missing an element, because there is motive requirement to censorship. If a library looks at its records, notes that a book hasn't been taken out for three years, and takes it off the shelves in order to make space for a different book that might get checked out more often, that isn't censorship. It's only when they take the action of limiting access because of the content that it's censorship. And even then, the censorship might well be supportable, depending on the mission. Nobody complains that elementary school libraries don't have "Lady Chatterley's Lover" in it, even though it is excluded because of its content, because there is widespread agreement that it is not appropriate for grade school children.
    Now, censorship DOES happen frequently. Parents censor books, music, television, movies, and lots of other things for their children, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, because they have the authority to do that. Censorship, as censorship, is not inherently objectionable. It BECOMES objectionable when the censors (or would-be censors) act outside their authority.

    "The more books a store carries, the less censoring it is doing."
    You miss the point, and this statement is not even close to true. At issue is not how many books are included or excluded, but WHY some books are excluded.

    "Putting that aside, a word which may be applied to any entity who can hold, sell, or purchase media equally is not the most useful word for communication."
    Perhaps. "Downloading" is a dirty word to record companies, but it continues to have perfectly useful application to a variety of activities. I'm not going to stop using the word correctly because it lacks the "punch" for me that they would like it to have.

    "Personally, I will continue to use the term censor (-ship, -ing, -ed, etc.) in reference to governmental and authoritarian action almost exclusively."
    That's certainly your choice. I wouldn't want to censor you! But the word will continue to mean other things involving neither governments nor Roman soldiers in the meantime.

  173. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @7:22 pm

    "Your difference is comparing potential bombers with actual rapists. "
    Well, I used the term "rapists" to indicate the type of person who rapes, whether they've actually done it or not. Both potential rapists AND actual rapists understand how rape is performed (along with the majority of non-rapists, of course). The point being that a person who wants to bomb people probably needs instruction in construction of explosive devices, while a person who wants to rape probably does NOT need instruction in raping procedure.

    "I wasn't suggesting the book be banned, but that it wasn't just unreasonable 'stupid sheep drone' people who would campaign against it being published."
    I'm not suggesting that it's unreasonable to be opposed to the contents of the book or the culture that supports it and vice versa. I will maintain that it IS unreasonable to channel that opposition into efforts to prevent it from being published. I will offer this as a possible alternative channel. #1, whenever a woman encounters a man attempting to put the objectionable content to work, she should respond to the physical assault on her bodily integrity in kind, by attempting to kick the perpetrator's testicles back into his body cavity. #2, suggest suing the book's publisher and authors under a product liability and false advertising theory to the man writhing on the floor.
    In other words, if the problem is the behavior that the book encourages, punish the behavior.

  174. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @7:30 pm

    Oops, left out this part.
    "Currently, the word censorship rightly carries a very bad connotation of oppressive control."
    Not if you approve of the censorship. Nobody complains of oppressive control when you're talking about not letting preschoolers watch porn.

  175. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 23, 2013 @7:37 pm

    @James Pollock

    "You're missing an element, because there is motive requirement to censorship. If a library looks at its records, notes that a book hasn't been taken out for three years, and takes it off the shelves in order to make space for a different book that might get checked out more often, that isn't censorship. It's only when they take the action of limiting access because of the content that it's censorship."

    Now I'm not following you as well as previously – quite possibly because "motive" and "content" are pretty mushy words already.

    If a book's content is unpopular (nobody checks it out), and it is subsequently dropped from the shelves that would *still* be censorship under your rules. It is dropped for a motive – to increase check outs – because of its content – which nobody wants to read.

    Perhaps you could be more specific on what kind of content and what kind of motivation makes the denial of access censorship?

    "That's certainly your choice. I wouldn't want to censor you! But the word will continue to mean other things involving neither governments nor Roman soldiers in the meantime."

    Agreed. In exactly the same way that awesome will continue to mean "kinda good" or "nice".

  176. Kat  •  Jun 23, 2013 @7:47 pm

    The difference is only one of scale

    Actually, yes. To me, the key difference is one of scale and power. That's a pretty big difference that I think needs to be part of the conversation and not just swept aside. The situation would be fundamentally different if the work was not available at all through any means in the U.S., but it actually is. Nobody has caused it, directly or indirectly, to become completely unavailable in the U.S.

    If the situation were different than that, my opinion would change.

    It's basically like this: if I petition a business to remove a product for any reason, I'm engaging in speech. If I organize to make this speech more effective, it's still speech (so long as I'm not coming after people with torches and pitchforks or anything). If the business decides not to carry the product, that is also speech. If the business decides to continue to carry the product, that it speech.

    If a group with an idea that I like engages in speech that causes my favorite products to be pulled from the shelves, will I believe that it's right? I don't think I'm required to believe it's right or that the decision was good. I'm allowed to say that I'm disappointed in the business, institute calls for the products to return, complain bitterly about how much people are dicks, rant on Youtube, etc. And people are allowed to tell me what a chump I am. And on and on and on.

    When you get the government involved in censorship, it moves from just speech to being inherently oppressive, because the government is just plain different than businesses and individuals. It has more power, more resources, a larger scale, etc. than any other entity in the country.

    That's my thinking on it, anyway.

  177. Kat  •  Jun 23, 2013 @7:49 pm

    That is* speech

    an idea that I don't* like

    Egads, it's time for bed.

  178. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 23, 2013 @7:52 pm

    @James Pollock

    "Not if you approve of the censorship. Nobody complains of oppressive control when you're talking about not letting preschoolers watch porn."

    It is pretty darn rare to find someone who approves of censorship actually calling it censorship.

    You might actually find someone who says:
    "I am proud of the moral and proper censorship we have carried out here today, now if only those other evil folks would stop their sinful and oppressive censorship."

    But you could easily find this:
    "Today we have protected our children, but the battle is not over. There are those who would censor us so that our truth cannot be heard, even by those same children!"

    Connotation is not the same as denotation. People avoid using censorship to describe something they like. For the same reason they would likely avoid calling an exceptional person they admire "one of those Ivy League elites." The commonly understood association is bad even while the denotation (in that specific case) is good.

  179. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @8:02 pm

    "If a book's content is unpopular (nobody checks it out), and it is subsequently dropped from the shelves that would *still* be censorship under your rules. It is dropped for a motive – to increase check outs – because of its content – which nobody wants to read."

    Only if you conflate "objectionable" and "uninteresting".
    "Censorship" is the act of shielding some subset of the population from content deemed objectionable. So when the library pulls "Fifty Shades" because of the racy bits, that is censorship. When the library declines to buy "Fifty Shades" because of the racy bits, that's also censorship. In neither case does the fact that the book is freely available in a bookstore change the fact that it is censorship.
    Pulling a book that is obsolete ("DOS for Dummies") or just not in demand, they aren't pulling it to protect delicate sensibilities, and that's why it isn't censorship. Responding to public demand (by bookstores OR libraries) is not the same thing as trying to shape it.

    Similarly, Wal-Mart will not carry CD's with parental advisory stickers on them, because they have naughty words on them. Censorship (one many, probably most of its customers support.) They won't carry any of William Shatner's albums, either, because no one buys them. Not censorship.
    The difference lies in whether the customers are deciding what they don't want, or the store/library.

  180. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 23, 2013 @8:12 pm

    It's not just about the behavior. If a website that is supported by men and women alike, especially those who are educated and tech savvy, is raising funding for a book that promotes rape-y behavior, it makes it appear more acceptable. It's not. By complaining, the opponents are keeping the pressure on to make sure that people understand they consider such behavior aberrant and that it is not socially acceptable.

  181. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @8:13 pm

    "When you get the government involved in censorship, it moves from just speech to being inherently oppressive"
    Either way, someone who is not you is making decisions that affect you, which is oppressive. Now, it's a bigger hassle to go to the next country over to obtain what you want than it is to go to another store, but businesses can also cause a particular work to be entirely unavailable in the United States.
    To cite an example I'm familiar with, many excellent PC Engine games were never released in the United States, and thus it was necessary to import them from Japan if you wanted to play them. Some of those games are now available in the Wii virtual console, including what is frequently cited as the best PC Engine game ever, Dracula X. But hundreds of games I might have enjoyed playing were never released here because of business decisions that were beyond my control. Sure, for some the costs of conversion would have been too high to justify the expense. But most were not brought here because the owners of the properties didn't want to anger Nintendo by supporting a competing console. And don't get me started on the Nintendo censorship of games.

  182. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @8:24 pm

    "If a website that is supported by men and women alike, especially those who are educated and tech savvy, is raising funding for a book that promotes rape-y behavior, it makes it appear more acceptable."
    Not necessarily. Reading a book about rape-y behavior (in this case, actually battery-y behavior) and engaging in rape-y behavior are different things.

    "By complaining, the opponents are keeping the pressure on to make sure that people understand they consider such behavior aberrant and that it is not socially acceptable."
    Complaining is one thing and (as far as I know) nobody's complaining about the complaining. Complain all you want. The problem is in the attempting to silence the voice you disapprove of.
    Notice here that while I strongly disapprove of the content of your message, but I did NOT attempt to go to our kindly proprietors and attempt to get your posting priviliges revoked. Still, I was able to make my objection known.

  183. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @8:32 pm

    "People avoid using censorship to describe something they like."
    I think you'd find that the majority of the people who work/worked as censors are happy with the work they do/did. The people in the Hays office, people who edit deployed soldiers' communications, etc. I'll concede that we often using more precise terminology in place of the word "censorship" nowadays… because the only media that still employs censors is the broadcasting industry, and they call them "S&P" or "standards and practices". Most other media industries (videogames, records, movies) have moved to "ratings"… and there are two separate ratings boards for Internet sites, which nearly everybody completely ignores.
    Wait, I forgot one… airlines still censor movies.

  184. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 23, 2013 @8:48 pm

    @James Pollock

    But I find boring books objectionable…

    Seriously though, that's given me the specifics on content (somebody finds it objectionable), now for motivation.

    If said copy of 50 Shades.. is removed solely to boost sales that is just denying access not censorship – or just a smart move if you want the nice connotation. Yes?

    If it is removed to boost sales that are hurt by a consumer boycott due to the store selling it, is that censorship? And if so, is it censorship by the boycotting group, the store (though their motive has not changed), or both?

    That boycott would also be a case of customers deciding what they (and other customers) want, not the store/library. Which kind of messes with this:
    "The difference lies in whether the customers are deciding what they don't want, or the store/library."

    You had me thinking you had a nice simple definition – denial of access. Now with all this talk of motivation, it has all gone a bit…. grey.

    (I am terribly sorry for that joke)

    Finally, when you come right down to it, I think I still agree with your definition of censorship, but I still hope the connotation of "censorship" remains bad for as long as possible. If I get deleted from a forum for objectionable content (like that grey) joke) I still refuse to call it censorship even if that would be correct.

    I guess you could say I am self-censoring myself due to content (an unpleasing word use) I deem objectionable, with the motivation of keeping a word powerful.

    You could say that.
    But I won't.

    Now I gotta go to bed – driving to Texas in the morning – It's been fun sir.

  185. James Pollock  •  Jun 23, 2013 @9:52 pm

    Mark, I'm afraid I can't really follow your last post.

    I'll note that boycotters are generally "would-be" censors… that is, if they had a position of authority, they would definitely censor. They aren't in a position of authority, so they can't actually censor. If the boycotters succeed in pressuring the retailer to take an item off the shelves, the retailer is the censor.

    Here's the dictionary.com defintion of "censor".
    1. an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.
    2. any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.
    3. an adverse critic; faultfinder.

    So, for example, the Catholic Church censored works of literature and art, most notably when they came upon nudes from the Greco/Roman era and again during the Renaissance when artists started testing limits, and that had nothing to do with government.
    There are people who are self-appointed censors… they go into libraries and Sharpie over words they don't like, or cut pages or steal books that they think other people shouldn't see/read.

  186. John Kindley  •  Jun 23, 2013 @10:47 pm

    Though no one has objected to my one substantive comment on this post, I feel it warrants some clarification. As Ken used as an example in his post his right to eject from his home a speaker of speech he deemed offensive, I extended his example to the familiar case of blog comment moderation. It goes without saying that a blogger has the power to ban a commenter, but it does not follow that his might always and necessarily makes "right," and it's this question of "right" I take to be the question in this Kickstarter case. Popehat happens to moderate its comments fabulously and fairly, but it's perfectly possible for a blogger to moderate his comments in a way that shows him to be an asshat, and even to have the same narrowness of mind that characterizes the censorious asshat. In other words, you might have the "right" to tell a guest to leave your house with his offensive speech, but it doesn't follow that you'd be "right" to do so. Suppose, for example, you're a Republican and you've invited your extended family over for a Christmas party. At the party you make some derogatory remarks about our President, not suspecting that your niece's new boyfriend is an Obama-lover. How you respond to his response might make you an asshat, and maybe even a censorious asshat.

  187. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 24, 2013 @6:16 am

    A boycott in this case is to draw attention to the fact that the speech in question is unacceptable to the owners of the business. They would not have given in so quickly if they didn't agree. Boycotts trying to suppress speech that people value often increase a company's business, eg. movies about Jesus that draw protests and end up making people who would not otherwise watch a religious movie go to the theater.

    Civilization means that individuals have standards of what they will and won't do. We don't want the government to censor material we feel should be available, but we don't want anyone to force us to sell material we personally find immoral.

    And "special order" is called "the internet."

  188. Jon  •  Jun 24, 2013 @9:12 am

    Cough, cough. Still waiting on Clark's post. I know you have nothing better to do………..cough cough

  189. Ken White  •  Jun 24, 2013 @11:28 am
  190. James Pollock  •  Jun 24, 2013 @12:07 pm

    "A boycott in this case is to draw attention to the fact that the speech in question is unacceptable to the owners of the business."
    This conclusion would follow if, upon discovering the still-running project on Kickstarter, the owners/administrators of Kickstarter had immediately terminated the project. That is not what happened.

    Rather, this boycott carried the message "you cannot have both them and us as customers. Choose." which puts it square in the same moral category as white people telling a lunch counter owner in the 1960's "you can't serve blacks and serve us. Pick one or the other."

    Boycotts are neither inherently good nor inherently bad; they are a tool. Like all tools, they can be used for either.

  191. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 24, 2013 @2:07 pm

    @James Pollock -

    "Mark, I'm afraid I can't really follow your last post."

    Which part was causing the trouble? I'd be glad to help clear it up.

    And on your response:

    "I'll note that boycotters are generally "would-be" censors… that is, if they had a position of authority, they would definitely censor. They aren't in a position of authority, so they can't actually censor."

    I find the proposition that customers and their buying habits – which includes boycotts and other pocket protests – are not in a position of authority to be dubious, at best.

  192. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 24, 2013 @2:41 pm

    Oh man. I should not have clicked Ken's link.

    Going to go take a shower or five.

  193. James Pollock  •  Jun 24, 2013 @3:36 pm

    "I find the proposition that customers and their buying habits – which includes boycotts and other pocket protests – are not in a position of authority to be dubious, at best."
    Really? Most calls for boycotts fail to change any behavior.
    I joined in with over 90% of America in boycotting American Idol. And our boycott of Jay Leno backfired on Conan O'Brien.

  194. Nat Gertler  •  Jun 24, 2013 @3:47 pm

    Rather, this boycott carried the message "you cannot have both them and us as customers. Choose."

    Again, James, you are confusing people with product. I know of no one who was saying that Kickstarter couldn't have PUAs as customers. As such, your claim of moral category fails; discriminating against a product is no more morally the same as discriminating against a person than shooting a tin can is the same as shooting a person.

  195. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 24, 2013 @4:03 pm

    @James Pollock

    "Really? Most calls for boycotts fail to change any behavior."

    So therefore no customers have authority over a store, or a library, or a government….

    Do you actually believe that or was it just a dodge?

    And still waiting for the part you did not follow on previous post.

  196. James Pollock  •  Jun 24, 2013 @4:47 pm

    "Rather, this boycott carried the message "you cannot have both them and us as customers. Choose."
    Again, James, you are confusing people with product.

    Women who object to PUA material are "product"?

  197. James Pollock  •  Jun 24, 2013 @4:55 pm

    ""Really? Most calls for boycotts fail to change any behavior."

    "So therefore no customers have authority over a store, or a library, or a government…."

    Not zero. Just so close to zero as to make no difference in most circumstances. So close as to be a rounding error.
    Check the math. If most attempts to use the power results in no effect, how much power do they have? You either have to aggregate a very large group or ally with one or more very powerful customers in order to effect a retailer.
    And even then, results aren't guaranteed. Remember when the gay rights activists called for a boycott on Chick-fil-A?

    "TAnd still waiting for the part you did not follow on previous post."

    This part doesn't make any sense:

    "Seriously though, that's given me the specifics on content (somebody finds it objectionable), now for motivation. If said copy of 50 Shades.. is removed solely to boost sales that is just denying access not censorship – or just a smart move if you want the nice connotation. Yes? If it is removed to boost sales that are hurt by a consumer boycott due to the store selling it, is that censorship? And if so, is it censorship by the boycotting group, the store (though their motive has not changed), or both? That boycott would also be a case of customers deciding what they (and other customers) want, not the store/library. Which kind of messes with this:
    "The difference lies in whether the customers are deciding what they don't want, or the store/library."

    Well, except for that last sentence, which makes perfect sense.

  198. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 24, 2013 @5:56 pm

    Wow. Customers have no authority. Who would have thought?

    I hesitate to continue this dialogue, but I will make the attempt.

    Here is the breakdown:

    My post : "Seriously though, that's given me the specifics on content (somebody finds it objectionable)…"

    This means that your post previous to this one had provided enough specifics for the word "content" to clarify what you were saying in your previous post, specifically here:

    your post:
    "It's only when they take the action of limiting access because of the content that it's censorship."
    —which did not originally specify that said content had to be objectionable. You clarified that, hence my response. Which brings us to:

    my post: "… and now for motive."

    This was in reference to your previous post:

    "You're missing an element, because there is motive requirement to censorship."

    Which I did not understand; greed, lust, righteous, any motive, all motives? So in an attempt to understand, you got this:

    my post:
    "regarding If said copy of 50 Shades.. is removed solely to boost sales that is just denying access not censorship – or just a smart move if you want the nice connotation. Yes?

    If it is removed to boost sales that are hurt by a consumer boycott due to the store selling it, is that censorship? And if so, is it censorship by the boycotting group, the store (though their motive has not changed), or both?"

    Here, I set up two hypotheticals where motive (to boost sales) remains the same and content is ignored, but the circumstances differ. You then professed to not follow this reasoning, while still responding that the first situation was not censorship, but the second situation was censorship by the store.

    I took this to mean that there is either no motive requirement to censorship (in contradiction of your statement) or that you truly did not understand the request I had made prior:

    my post: "Perhaps you could be more specific on what kind of content and what kind of motivation makes the denial of access censorship?"

    … or perhaps you were just abandoning your previous statement. I still do not know, because you failed to respond to the original request and – in your words – could not follow the hypothetical.

    That brings us to:

    my post:
    "That boycott would also be a case of customers deciding what they (and other customers) want, not the store/library. Which kind of messes with this:"
    Your post:
    'The difference lies in whether the customers are deciding what they don't want, or the store/library.'

    Which I had assumed you did understand as you responded with your proposition that customers have no authority over stores, so they cannot censor stores. (This was, of course, after you added "authority" to your requirements for censorship).

    So either you did understand that part enough to give your counterargument (such as it is) to it, or it was just random typing chance.

    I hope that helps.

  199. Bikerdad  •  Jun 24, 2013 @7:57 pm

    Ken,

    Before you dive too far down this rabbit hole, I suggest you take a gander at the kerfuffle roiling the science fiction community. Just google "Mike Resnick mau mau." Similar dynamic in point of fact.

    While I agree with you that there is risk of watering down the word "censorship", it is a term that resonates with the general public in a way that "mau mau" doesn't. What do you call it when a public speaker is shouted down and drowned out with air horns, drums, etc? If it ISN'T censorship, then what?

  200. James Pollock  •  Jun 24, 2013 @8:50 pm

    "You then professed to not follow this reasoning"
    No, I never got past THIS reasoning:
    "If it is removed to boost sales "

    ""Perhaps you could be more specific on what kind of content and what kind of motivation makes the denial of access censorship?""
    Perhaps you could stop confusing me for a fucking dictionary. Look it up.

    "customers have no authority over stores, so they cannot censor stores."
    The "customers have no authority" part is true where customers are fungible, which is about 99.9% of retail. I'm not sure what to make of what "censoring a store" would be. Some store's ads have been censored, which is about as close as I can think of.

    "(This was, of course, after you added "authority" to your requirements for censorship). "
    I don't know what you're talking about. You either have authority to censor (as parent of a child, publisher, or other position of rightful control over persons or things; but it is not actually a requirement of censorship, as some people act to censor without authority… which is when censorship makes the news.
    By definition, however, in order to censor you must be in some way between the material to be shielded and the population being "protected" from access. A store owner/manager is between products and their customers (at least, while the customers are on the premises. Librarians are between book publishers and library patrons. Parents are between children and smut peddlers (although pervasive media, particularly the Internet, strains this one.)

    If you need further guidance, ask your mother.

  201. James Pollock  •  Jun 24, 2013 @8:52 pm

    "What do you call it when a public speaker is shouted down and drowned out with air horns, drums, etc? If it ISN'T censorship, then what?"

    The generic term is "heckler's veto".
    If private property rules apply, the heckler(s) can be removed. If it's a public space, tough luck.

  202. Nat Gertler  •  Jun 24, 2013 @9:21 pm

    "you cannot have both them and us as customers. Choose."

    You still haven't shown where anyone was calling for them to get rid of customers, rather than product.

    And even then, results aren't guaranteed. Remember when the gay rights activists called for a boycott on Chick-fil-A?

    Your using that as an example of a failed boycott? "Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena." "The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas." That doesn't sound like a company ignoring a boycott.

  203. David Dyer-Bennet  •  Jun 24, 2013 @9:36 pm

    A lot of interaction that used to occur in public spaces now occurs in spaces that are privately, corporately, owned. Kids now go hang out in shopping malls rather than in the park, perhaps because their parents never let them play in the park when they were younger (or perhaps because they hate mosquitoes as much as I do). The grounds around skyscrapers also serve as parks, but are also privately owned.

    I'm not fully confident even of my own opinions on how much of the usual property rights private owners of places like malls and plazas around skyscrapers should give up, but I believe the law already recognizes they give up some. And the fact that our social interactions take place less and less in legally public spaces and more and more in legally private spaces is something of considerable social significance.

  204. Anonymous  •  Jun 24, 2013 @10:25 pm

    Using the argument that Costco failing to stock Joan Rivers is censorship, then I am censoring her as well, because I choose not to have her book in my personal library.

  205. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 24, 2013 @10:27 pm

    @James Pollock

    So you are having trouble understanding how removing a book from the shelves could boost sales?

    "If it is removed to boost sales "

    Perhaps this could help you. Conveniently, I found it right here on this thread!

    "Pulling a book that is obsolete ("DOS for Dummies") or just not in demand, they aren't pulling it to protect delicate sensibilities, and that's why it isn't censorship. Responding to public demand (by bookstores OR libraries) is not the same thing as trying to shape it."

    Stay awesome Jimmy. Goodnight.

  206. James Pollock  •  Jun 24, 2013 @10:59 pm

    "Your using that as an example of a failed boycott?"
    No, I'm using that as an example of a CALL for a boycott that had unexpected results.
    http://articles.mcall.com/2012-08-04/news/mc-pc-mc-pc-chick-fil-a-gay-rights-boycott-backfir-20120804_1_boycott-gay-activists-restaurant-chain

    "Using the argument that Costco failing to stock Joan Rivers is censorship, then I am censoring her as well, because I choose not to have her book in my personal library."
    Depends. Do other people use your personal library? If so, then yes, because censorship is protecting other people from stuff you find inappropriate. I think you mean to say that you're a one-person boycott.
    (I'm boycotting both. I don't have a Costco card AND I'm not buying the book. I expect these to have zero impact on either Costco, Ms. Rivers, or the publishing company that printed her book(s).)

    "So you are having trouble understanding how removing a book from the shelves could boost sales?"
    Yes. And an example of removing a book from library shelves that did not boost sales doesn't help any. Before the library pulled "DOS for Dummies", the book was not selling. After they pulled "DOS for Dummies", the book is not selling. It is not available on ANY bookstore shelf, so sales should be through the roof, right?

  207. John Kindley  •  Jun 25, 2013 @5:51 am

    I am 68% sure that thing Ken linked to is satire.

    Anarchists in emphasizing that there is one moral law that applies no less to the State than to individuals, and not one law for the State and another for individuals whereby the State may morally do what would be a crime if committed by individuals, emphasize the State's violation of moral law, e.g., in the proposition that "taxation is theft." But it is no less true that what we recognize to be wrong if committed by the State, e.g., abridging freedom of speech without good cause, is also wrong if committed by private individuals.

    Although I too am an anarchist, or rather an anarch, it is considerations such as these that have made me an anarcho-Georgist rather than a so-called anarcho-capitalist. That is, it seems to me that without the Georgist principle anarchy would indeed simply lead to the establishment of new States (a common objection to anarchism vulgarly understood), insofar as an individual who asserts exclusive ownership and sovereignty over land to which all have equal rights has essentially made himself a State and committed the crime that defines the State.

    Furthermore, it appears that the absence of the Georgist principle throughout history has already led to our present maldistribution of wealth, i.e., to capitalism, and hence to the blurring of public and private property "rights" that Ken warns about in his post. That is, I don't feel particularly bound to respect the property of corporations and capitalists, and this feeling will be significant if it ever becomes widespread and the shit ever hits the fan.

  208. Kat  •  Jun 25, 2013 @6:26 am

    I've only got a couple more things to say because I think the discussion is getting a little heated and I tend not to like to participate when that happens.

    I will offer this as a possible alternative channel. #1, whenever a woman encounters a man attempting to put the objectionable content to work, she should respond to the physical assault on her bodily integrity in kind, by attempting to kick the perpetrator's testicles back into his body cavity.

    I missed this part of your post somehow, but I thought it was important enough to go back and address it. You should know these things: sometimes women (such as myself) freeze up until the window of opportunity to act is gone. Sometimes women who DO fight back are arrested for assault. Even not knowing these, you're asking a woman who may or may not be frightened for her life (depending on the situation) to escalate towards violence and put herself in risk of retaliation from her attacker.

    Sadly, this solution is often offered as the only cure available to women. I realize you were probably only offering it in jest, but the point still stands; there's been no talk about how women can protect themselves from people who take these instructions as something that is good and legal to do. (This is probably because there is very little that we can do, aside from sending the message that hey, sexual battery is wrong and illegal.)

    There are people who are self-appointed censors… they go into libraries and Sharpie over words they don't like, or cut pages or steal books that they think other people shouldn't see/read.

    Yes, and that is called vandalism. It's illegal.

    I'm having trouble following why this was included in your argument; feel free to either clarify or drop it as you see fit. To me, it reads like a statement that conflates an actual crime (vandalism) with the legitimate exercise of free speech.

    Rather, this boycott carried the message "you cannot have both them and us as customers. Choose." which puts it square in the same moral category as white people telling a lunch counter owner in the 1960's "you can't serve blacks and serve us. Pick one or the other."

    Women who object to PUA material are "product"?

    The distinction that Nat is getting at is that Kickstarter has not said, "PUAs are not welcome to start any projects on this site." PUAs can still start non-seduction manual projects. PUAs can fund any project they want. PUAs can even fund self-help books, so long as those self-help books don't contain information on 'seduction.'

    Non-PUAs cannot fund seduction manuals via Kickstarter.

    PUAs may be the affected by this change because of their tie to the material, but non-PUAs are similarly affected by the change because the change was about product–not about people.

    I would have a problem with Kickstarter kicking PUAs off the site.

    Reading a book about rape-y behavior (in this case, actually battery-y behavior) and engaging in rape-y behavior are different things.

    Have you read the comment thread reacting to these instructions on Reddit?

    Here are some examples:

    "Force her to rebuff your advances."

    Quite possibly the most important line, for me, that I've read on seddit. Might even be a game changer.

    If you go out to bars, open, and physically escalate as TofuTofu describes here, you'll start having one night stands with no further game needed.

    I've really tried implementing a lot of his advice for several months (I know his posts are only a few months or days old, but he says himself he gets a lot of his information from similar sources that I have read/watched/listened too and just makes them more concise), but I still have only very, very limited success, and not a single one night stand. I would say 99% or more of the time when I try to physically escalate in the ways he has taught, I get called a creep or blown out.

    You really can't see how just letting this stand encourages some men to commit sexual battery? You can't see how some people would react by saying, "We need to send a strong message that this is not okay"?

    That's really all I wanted to say, I think. This discussion is getting into territory where it would be less helpful to continue to participate than to say I'm done.

  209. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels  •  Jun 25, 2013 @6:38 am

    @James Pollock

    "Yes. And an example of removing a book from library shelves that did not boost sales doesn't help any. Before the library pulled "DOS for Dummies", the book was not selling. After they pulled "DOS for Dummies", the book is not selling. It is not available on ANY bookstore shelf, so sales should be through the roof, right?"

    I think I see now how two things tripped you up.

    1) "Sales" may be used to convey purchases of more than one title. It's usage in english is not confined to singular transactions. So when somebody says "Removing this book will boost our sales." They are referring to all books which may be sold.
    To convey the sense you got out of it, they would need to say "Removing this book will boost sales of this book" to convey that idea to most adult readers.

    2) There is a means of communicating ideas in most languages – including english – in which we draw parallels between similar situations to show the similar dynamics of the two situations. This can be done by varied means including simile, metaphor, comparison, contrast, etc.
    So when "check outs" at a library are paralleled with "sales" at a store, the person doing the comparison is not necessarily saying the two things are one thing. Instead they are using one idea to convey information about another.
    For example, if a new book placed on shelf after another book is removed "sells like hotcakes" it does not necessarily follow that the new book is sold covered in syrup with butter on the side.

    Maybe now you can understand the sentence "It is removed to boost sales".
    It = that which is removed
    Sales = the overall number of purchases at the location.

  210. Bikerdad  •  Jun 25, 2013 @10:03 am

    The "heckler's veto" is simply one form of censorship. To repeat the definition of censorship from the ACLU, kindly provided previously by another poster:

    ACLU definition – the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

    When the "heckler's veto" takes place in a private space, the space owner seeks to have the heckler's removed, and the government refuses to do so, then does it move from the realm of private censorship to public? When the police refuse to do anything about the destruction of newspapers by activists offended by the content, does that qualify as censorship?

    Examples like these are why the bright line that Ken seems to support doesn't work, and in fact is likely counterproductive. We, the general public, know censorship when we see it. "Shut up", regardless of how or who is saying it, is censorship. (note: not all censorship is bad, but the burden is upon the censor to demonstrate why it isn't bad.) Conflating the principle of free speech/expression/press with the legal boundaries the First Amendment places upon the gov't is a common rhetorical mistake, rightly objected to by those interested in precision and avoidance of overreach. Those objecting must take care not to come across as pedantic twits, but rather must distinguish between the shorthand usage of "First Amendment rights" as a stand-in for the broad principle, and the more precise meaning vis a vis the government.

  211. Doc  •  Jun 25, 2013 @12:07 pm

    I think a better living room analogy would be this: say, for some reason, I want Ken to come to my house and deliver a series of rants on a topic of his own choosing. And say, for some reason, the public gets wind of it and becomes enraged, launching a campaign against me to prevent these rants from happening. At first I am defiant, saying "I can do anything I want in my own living room." But after a concerted spate of internet harassment and threatened boycotts and the like, I decide that having Ken rant in my living is just not worth it. I withdraw the invitation. At which point, the internet campaigners and their supporters say, "well? what can I tell ya? You can't force a guy to invite Ken into his own living room. What he does in his living room is his business."

    They are being disingenuous there. They DO want to tell me what I can do in my own living room, unless I already am doing what they wanted me to do there all along. It's not illegal for them to interfere with my living room, and it shouldn't be. But it is an attempt to respond to something they disagree with by silencing the speaker, and even though it's legal, it's not good. Because who knows whose living room will be targeted next?

  212. James Pollock  •  Jun 25, 2013 @12:32 pm

    "there's been no talk about how women can protect themselves from people who take these instructions as something that is good and legal to do."
    Actually, there has. The proper remedy for bad speech is more speech. So get the message out that the PUA manuals propose methods that don't work. Or get out the message that persons who engage in battery in the pursuit of amorous success risk punishment. Hell, start by correcting the behavior of those women for whom these methods actually work.

    "To me, it reads like a statement that conflates an actual crime (vandalism) with the legitimate exercise of free speech."
    Then go back and re-read the 8 comments where I discuss the difference between authorized censorship, which occurs regularly and without concern, and unauthorized, which is where most of the attention goes. To summarize: We don't complain when a person decides that a book is not to their liking because it has content they disapprove of. We DO complain when they decide that book shouldn't be available to other people, and steal it from the library or deface it. We don't complain when people find a book unsuitable for their children and there deny access to their children. We do complain when people find a book unsuitable for OUR children, and demand that it be removed from the school library (unless we agree with them, of course.)
    Just as it is illegal to deface books in the library, so too is it illegal for the government to censor beyond ITS authority. So too it would be if any private entity censors beyond its authority.

    "The distinction that Nat is getting at is that Kickstarter has not said, "PUAs are not welcome to start any projects on this site." PUAs can still start non-seduction manual projects. PUAs can fund any project they want. PUAs can even fund self-help books, so long as those self-help books don't contain information on 'seduction.'"

    Compare and contrast: "Mayor Bloomberg has NOT attacked soft drink companies with his proposed ban on large-serving soda. He has only attacked soda." It's a distinction that only a lawyer could appreciate. Product and producer are linked, and pretending they aren't is disingenuous.

    "You really can't see how just letting this stand encourages some men to commit sexual battery?"
    You really can't see that this decision impinges the freedom of the ones who don't? If there is a problem with sexual battery, address the problem of sexual battery. To use an extremely ridiculous analogy, some people listened to the Beatles' Helter Skelter and then murdered people. We didn't react to this by banning sales of the White Album, we reacted to it by enforcing laws against murdering people. And empowering people to defend themselves against murderers. And people are free to spread the word through whatever medium that murdering people is not at all OK.

    "You can't see how some people would react by saying, "We need to send a strong message that this is not okay"?
    Of course I can. The problem is that while I have no problem at all sending a strong message that sexual battery is not OK, and will happily join the chorus, reacting by silencing a voice that disagrees with you is WRONG. There are all kinds of ways to spread the message that handling women who don't want to be handled is wrong. (I continue to believe that immediate correction with negative stimuli is the best way of training animals not to do something) but in the marketplace of ideas, the correct answer is "more speech". Driving PUA projects off Kickstarter is symbolic, at best, and at worst you create a martyr effect. ("See? They tried to suppress us. That must be because our methods WORK!")

  213. Kat  •  Jun 25, 2013 @3:14 pm

    The proper remedy for bad speech is more speech.

    I think I need to clarify here. I'm not talking about an abstract level. I'm talking about what do I do if a man comes up to me and tries to rape me. (Recalling that I have been raped once and had sexual battery committed on me once.) At that moment, the time for speech has passed. In nearly every conversation I've been in regarding rape, "kick him in the nuts" or "avoid being alone" is the only solution offered to women. If you've got other solutions bouncing around in your mind, please feel free to offer them. I'll understand if you don't, because it's basically a problem that women can't solve by themselves and it's only tangential to this discussion. But it would still be nice to hear something new for a change.

    To use an extremely ridiculous analogy, some people listened to the Beatles' Helter Skelter and then murdered people.

    But a very small percentage of people are murdered every year and there are very few murderers running loose, despite media coverage suggesting otherwise. Contrast this with 1 in 3 women experiencing an attempted rape, and 1 in 6 women experiencing a completed rape, up to 15% of men admitting to committing rape in their lifetime, with a whole culture supporting and normalizing behavior that fits sexual assault/rape statutes. (source) It's been shown that combating rape culture directly effects sexual assault rates. Whereas pulling media about murder would likely have no effect, between we don't live in a "murder culture."

    Should also be mentioned that Mayor Bloomberg is a government actor attempting to use his government-mandated power to coerce action; this would seem to fit my "don't get the government involved" objection above.

    As to the rest, like I've said, I think this discussion has gone past usefulness; I've said my points (or other people have responded and will probably be more willing to take them further) and I'll just be repeating them to answer further.

  214. James Pollock  •  Jun 25, 2013 @4:58 pm

    "I'm not talking about an abstract level. I'm talking about what do I do if a man comes up to me and tries to rape me."
    There really are only two solutions… deadly violence and summoning aid… if you are outclassed in size and strength. And, I hate to break it to you, but this turns out NOT to be exlusively a women's issue.

    "At that moment, the time for speech has passed."
    Suppressing his book is also probably not a workable solution.

    "In nearly every conversation I've been in regarding rape, "kick him in the nuts" or "avoid being alone" is the only solution offered to women.
    Kick him in the nuts (or other senstive areas) is offered because it works at least part of the time. The single most powerful method to avoiding rape is "avoid drinking to excess and being around people who are drinking to excess"… alcohol is involved in FAR more rapes than not.

    As I've mentioned, this is a topic that's been around my household for a while… I've a teenaged daughter who's preparing to go off to college.

    " It's been shown that combating rape culture directly effects sexual assault rates. Whereas pulling media about murder would likely have no effect, between we don't live in a "murder culture.""
    Are you familiar with American gun culture?

    It's still a problem of ends vs. means. A sympathetic goal doesn't justify all means to achieve it. Again, going to ridiculous extremes: Should women be able to feel safe going about their daily lives? Sure. Does that justify shooting dead any man who approaches within 25 feet uninvited? No. At least, I hope not. (and if it were, I'm afraid the rapist dudes would just obtain tasers with 26-foot wires.)

  215. Bill  •  Jun 25, 2013 @7:42 pm

    @Blah – Absolutely awesome. It wont' be long before Ross Jeffries starts a flame war with the author (and what the hell, I thought only old-school Ross Jeffries type PUA's used their real names – I thought all the new school dudes had to have some cool PUA name like Tyler Durden or whatever). I actually read the Game and while "Style" seems to be the least douchey of the bunch, that nickname alone made it really hard to read without cracking up. Imagine taking Mystery's advice and wearing bomber goggles when you go out Sarging. And the PUA technique of labelling anyone that laughs at them "AFC's" is brilliant – it's like noname rappers on youtube calling critics Hataz.

  216. Bill  •  Jun 25, 2013 @7:47 pm

    @James Pollock – I can't believe I'm going to actually defend PUA's, but how in the hell does anything they advocate warrant physical violence? I'm not a PUA expert but read the Game and listened to a few YT videos to see what it was all about after watching a Criminal Minds episode on it and nothing I saw even remotely comes close to violence or anything that seriously puts women at a disadvantage. If you really believe sticking your middle finger up as you talk puts phaliic images in her head against her will I guess I see your point, but from what I know, it's about making yourself more attractive coupled with practicing pickup lines and stuff like that – not dropping Roofies in her drink, hitting her over the head and dragging her home. Since there hasn't been a massive uptick in Rape or sexual assault following the popularity of the genre, i have to think my argument is supported by the evidence. Am I wrong?

  217. Bill  •  Jun 25, 2013 @8:04 pm

    @James Pollock – just seeing your comment about your daughter going to college… get her a copy of The Game and have her watch a few Youtube vids, I'm not an expert but it all seems to be very similar stuff – she'll be able to spot 'game' being run on her a mile away although she probably would anyway.

  218. James Pollock  •  Jun 25, 2013 @8:26 pm

    "how in the hell does anything they advocate warrant physical violence?"
    Putting your hands on someone without their consent is battery, and use of (reasonable) force to resist battery is legally authorized. The PUA techniques that involve handing women without first getting consent to do so should be treated exactly the same as when a dog jumps up on you… scold the animal, back it up with negative stimuli (a swat on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, if one happens to be handy) and scolding so they know what they did wrong. If enough women did that, the new round of PUA manuals will have a warning against handling women against their will, because they announce your foul to the room and spoil your chances with every woman in the room.

    And Bill, the preparation for sending my daughter off the college started about 9 years ago.

  219. Bill  •  Jun 25, 2013 @9:17 pm

    @James Pollock – well, on the preparation point – kudos to your fathering skills. On the first point though – I think if you read the context it was written in – it's much different than the way it's being presented. He wasn't talking about it as a general approach. He goes to lenghts to discuss "NO" and backing off . The quotes span several areas – invading personal space (as they define it – means standing within 12 inches of the person). It makes people very uncomfortable unless it's invited and people reflexively move. I can't imagine any girl having her personal space invaded two or even three times at a bar and that not being complete game over. Again, I'm not defending PUAs and I damn sure am not sympathetic to rape or sexual battery (a lot of guys talk tough but that's it – I am quite sure I would resort to serious physical violence if my daughter were assaulted knowing full well what it would mean for the rest of my life) but when i read the whole context of what was written (which I just did after reading this post – I was unfamiliar with this book until a few hours ago), coupled with what i've read about "Kino" in the little bit of research Iv'e done on PUA culture, I think things are being taken way out of context specifically in a way that makes him look not just much worse, but completely opposite to what he intended. There's no shortage of trash talkers on the internet and especially reddit, so you have to factor the signal to noise ratio there – in general though, the whole goal of PUA's isnt' just getting laid once, it's getting laid multiple times and having girls chase you – neither of those two things happen with rapists or anything close to them. This guy claims he's got a chapter on rape and a bunch of discussion about not going uninvited – I haven't seen it but all in all, he seems believable (if for no other reason than to avoid legal problems). Since I haven't been able to read the whole thing I can't comment in a fully informed manner, but I stand by the fact when i read the overall context, I really don't see anything that promotes rape or battery or anything of the sort and anything of that sort would completely go against the grain of what he's preaching (having really hot girls chasing after you). I'll stand corrected if I see anything that supports it.

  220. Bill  •  Jun 25, 2013 @9:25 pm

    @James Pollock – one last thing – PUA stuff has been around and quite popular for around 20 years now (I remember Ross Jeffries peddling his NLP "Subliminal Seduction" stuff on IRC forums back when I had a 2600 baud modem. The Game was a huge seller and there's several high traffic blogs and high selling books on the subject. Rape hasn't went up in this period so I have to think either 1-It really doesn't encourage it or discourages it 2-It does encourage it but readers don't do it.

    As a guy, I simply refuse to believe you can be talked into being a rapist. I had some college acquaintences that highly encouraged others to take advantage of really drunk freshman at some of our frat parties. outside of the fact they were immediately rebuked by pretty much everyone, they never even got someone (even really weak willed people who would do anything to fit in) to seriously contemplate it. It's an extreme version of why people look down on sex by prostitute even when they are otherwise unattainable – it lacks the status of being pursued or having a girl want you. Guys who are open to rape anyway may use some of that as justification, but i refuse to believe a single guy who would otherwise never dream of raping or assaulting a girl would do so b/c he read it in a PUA manual. Then again, this is a highly indexed venue and I really don't need to ever have it appear as though I support rape or am a PUA fan – so I better cut it short as far as that goes (people are amazingly good at selective out of context quoting from blog comments – ironically, which is what I think happened to the author, however much of a goof he is)

  221. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 25, 2013 @10:35 pm

    It wasn't called "gang raping a drunk girl" when I was in college. It was called "a drunk girl running the train at a frat party." It still happened, but the girl was the one who got blamed.

    AFAIK, the number of "rapes" has gone up a lot recently, in part because of an increase in binge drinking on college campuses, but also because people are willing to use the term "rape" when it fits.

  222. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 25, 2013 @10:40 pm

    @Bill, while the books may not literally recommend rape, the implication is that the girl is there to be picked up, regardless of her own opinion in the matter. It's presented as simply a question of the skill and persistence of the PUA. I would hope my daughter would have the presence of mind to raise her voice and call attention to the boorish behavior, or to go to the exit and ask the bouncer to eject the guy from the bar, but many women, especially those with a history of being abused by authority figures, instinctively freeze up and don't resist actively. The PUA manuals interpret that as consent.

  223. James Pollock  •  Jun 25, 2013 @11:06 pm

    There are two related problems that involved. One is that many women say "maybe" when they mean "yes" and "no" when they mean "maybe" (because they are interested but don't want to be perceived as "slutty") and some women say "maybe" when they mean "no" because they've been taught to not be confrontational.

    To that mix you add guys who are poor at reading signals in the first place (the natural market for this type of material, because the guys who CAN read signals don't need it.)

    BOOM. Crossed signals.

  224. aworldnervelink  •  Jun 26, 2013 @4:38 pm

    All of this NLP stuff is below me.

  225. Daniel  •  Jun 30, 2013 @2:20 pm

    For the sake of argument, assume that the government privatizes everything or almost everything (like many people advocate), streets, highways, radio waves, public land (such as parks), and prisons (some are now privately owned), etc. Some people also advocate doing away with the courts, and having private arbitration in its place, thus there would be no more constitutional right to access to the courts or jury trials in civil cases (we would have no courts or jury trial in civil cases, except private courts and arbitration). Would all of you who are saying that private places have the absolute right to prohibit speech, be perfectly happy that there are no free speech rights, because everything we have access to is privately owned or controlled? Don't think it is possible? For example, Salt Lake City ceded land to the Mormon church Main Street Plaza for its private use, but required a public right of way. The Mormons were restricting free speech unless it was favorable to the Mormon church. The 10th Circuit held in favor of the public (specifically, a non-Mormon preacher). So, Salt Lake City thereafter ceded the public property to be solely privately owned by the Mormon church, thus the 10th Circuit upheld the Mormon's right to censorship. The public still has access to the plaza, but they no longer have free speech rights. It's the same public place, yet privately owned.

  226. Careless  •  Jul 1, 2013 @5:15 pm

    "Is it censorship for me to ask the Inuit-shouter to leave my living room?"

    For sufficiently large values of your living room, yes. And if you mean "force" instead of "ask" of course.

  227. Careless  •  Jul 1, 2013 @5:19 pm

    Also, very confused by the point of this post+ " Don't like it? Don't support Kickstarter, and try to convince others not to support Kickstarter." and the two quotes from people complaining.

    It seems like Ken found people doing what he said they should do, then used them as examples of what he said they shouldn't do.

  228. Bill  •  Jul 1, 2013 @9:15 pm

    @Careless – I'm not sure I follow. So if I force someone out of my living room, and uninvited guest or one that was invited, but got drunk and belligerent and started say, calling my wife a whore, that's censorship? Or if a group of my friend's less attractive overweight wives insist on twerking in the living room while signing Ke$Sha songs and I demand they shut up or leave – that's censorship? Really?

  229. Careless  •  Jul 2, 2013 @11:11 am

    Yes, Bill, in a very limited way, that's censorship. If your living room is large enough, that's censorship by any definition. Although, I admit, I was making a weak reference to a math joke with my first post.

  230. Careless  •  Jul 2, 2013 @11:13 am

    There's nothing wrong with a little private censorship. That's the basic problem with Ken's bait and switch which was hinted at a number of times above. It's not illegal or immoral.

    Things start getting trickier when you start running into government censorship and private censorship that affects large amounts of spectrum. But Ken didn't seem to want to acknowledge the problems on the very fuzzy edge, so he wrote a couple of silly things

  231. James Pollock  •  Jul 6, 2013 @10:29 pm

    "So if I force someone out of my living room, and uninvited guest or one that was invited, but got drunk and belligerent and started say, calling my wife a whore, that's censorship?"
    Depends. If you put him out because YOU don't want to hear it, that is NOT censorship. If you put him out because you didn't want YOUR WIFE or YOUR KIDS to hear it, then it was censorship.

    You act as a censor when you act to keep other people from coming into contact with images, words, or ideas you think they will find objectionable or that you believe are objectionable for them to hear.

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