Nov 122010
 
Censorship
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This is a different type of blog post for me. It’s born of the frustration encountered at Huffington Post when trying to get a comment approved by their censors. When my posts are blocked, I typically scour the text in search of anything objectionable, make edits to anything that could possibly give cause to censorship, and repost. But in spite of this effort, I’ve had many times in the past when I could not for the life of me determine what their issue was with my post. Today is one such occurrence.

The topic of the article is the new Whitehouse position stated by David Axelrod yesterday regarding the extension of the Bush tax cuts. This was a very popular topic with a huge number of comments of which I posted several.  One particular comment was in response to an individual who posted asking the question, “Why do Democrats act as if the government is the owner of the citizens’ income and can hold a blank check on our earnings?” My response was to assert that we live in a democracy, that the government belongs to us all, and that it’s our only means to “address excesses and exploitation by the upper class.”

A response to my post was given by the person to whom I had commented. That response conveyed certain assertions with which I did not agree and, in my opinion, was based on assumptions that I find to be erroneous. The text of that comment is as follows:

The equality that will happen for ALL AMERICANS under the plan the left has is equal poverty and equal misery.

You cannot reward failure and punish success and increase innovation and the quality of life. It has never worked and will not work if you change the name to “progressive.”

Of course there are differences in intelligence, skills, knowledge, abilities, attitude, willingness to work and other factors. Each and every one of those creates differences in contribution.

In a fair society, you are compensated for your contribution. The liberal idea of equal wealth distribution ignores the differences in contributions and is doomed to fail.

The mistaken belief that government can create equal outcomes is foolish. The result of liberal’s attempts is to bring civilization down to the lowest common denominator. It happens every time you try and create social justice. The only way for liberals to succeed is to punish success and human nature then creates poverty and misery.

I attempted to respond in a respectful way, but even after a series of earnest attempts at editing was unable to get the Huffington censors to accept my post. The following is the text of my last attempt:

“reward failure and punish success” Success and failure at what? To make money? Now, there’s an appropriate metric with which to measure the worth of a person. It’s actually the core flaw in conservative thinking and the source of much suffering in the world.

“increase innovation” That’s just patent falsehood. Our ruling class system retards innovation in order to sustain the status quo. Just look at energy consumption and infrastructure in the U.S.. We’re still married to fossil fuels at the cost of the people and planet because it serves the needs of those stuffing their pockets with oil money. Innovation is in green technologies and alternatives, which are suppressed because of the threat of competition.

“In a fair society, you are compensated for your contribution” So CEOs really contribute 300 times more than average workers? By what measure? It’s the conservative idea of distribution of wealth that ignores all factors of contribution except monetary. Is that moral?

“The result of liberal’s attempts is to bring civilization down to the lowest common denominator.” Quite to the contrary – it’s the conservative ideals that are base, that focus on the worst characteristics of humanity.

For conservatives to succeed, the majority of people, as well as the planet itself must pay the price. John Kenneth Galbraith best summed up the conservative ethic: “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

I ask for your critique and honest feedback. Is this comment disrespectful? Is it inappropriate as a response to the comment that preceded it? Does it warrant being censored? Is it appropriate for Huffington Post to censor without feedback as to cause?

And on substance: what are your thoughts on the debate?


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  29 Responses to “Censorship at Huffington Post”

  1. Maybe it’s because you used the verb “retards,” and whatever filters they set up for that article kicked it out…surely a human filter would know what you meant in context.

    • Hmm, I assumed that their filters flagged a comment but that real live people would then read and make the decision. IDK, and HuffPost doesn’t ever seem to respond when you inquire on such topics. Thanks

  2. There is no disrespect present in your response. It is interesting to me that a publication that identifies itself as ‘liberal/ progressive’, would shut down such a coherent an intelligent opposition to such a comment. It seems to me that an attempt to stay somewhat bipartisan to attract the more conservative reader could be at play. But then who knows, it could simply be an attempt at staying controversy and debate.

    • Wait a minute . . . did I write this comment? . . . no . . . well, I agree almost completely, especially with the “coherent and intelligent” part. My only disagreement is by extension, and that would be the thought that there’s also a fair amount of censor incompetency at play.

  3. More an more people are becoming outraged at their isolation from the systems that control their lives.
    Huffington Post does not allow for the depth of feelings that most people have for the real issues. They have decided that the comments section should be tamed down to the dumb level that the mainstream media propagates. Ariana Huffington herself makes the media rounds espousing the demise of the middle class while her web site muffles the frustrations and hard hitting intellectual arguments that aim at the symptoms and inequalities while a number try to project solution. The comments area has gone from the open town hall meeting to the politically correct afternoon church social. Huffington Post has become just another placebo for the masses.

    • I’ve only been on HuffPost since March, but I’ve already seen an increase in censorship. And to make matters worse, they do a terrible job of it. There are many severely derogatory and rude comments that make it through their censor net, and many other thoughtful posts that are censored. It’s really too bad. Ariana Huffington should be ashamed of herself for allowing the site to become such a ridiculous mess.

      • Right – but HP is made up of a bunch of commie assholes who think they own the world. I’d LOVE to meet just one of these maggots in person.

  4. The HuffPo REGULARLY censors conservative comments. I’ve posted well over 5,900 times on that site, and I’ve come to the point where I save all of my posts before I submit them so that I can re-submit them when they’re censored.

    Nearly any argument that goes against the grain, and isn’t immediately ridiculous on the face is removed. I make the final statement because the HuffPo leaves the dumbest conservative comments there as “fodder” for their progressive elites to use as a bludgeon to prove the validity of their own views.

    It’s quite pathetic. I’m on plenty of other sites – the WSJ, Reddit, NYT, etc – no other site allows censorship like this, and no site allows its own users to self-regulate and remove “offensive” posts. Those who disagree are simply allowed – in the best of cases – to “downvote” a comment…not remove it.

    • I’m not doubting what you say, but you are mistaken to believe that it’s only conservative posts that are censored. I’ve had more comments than I can count blocked by their censors and often try repeatedly, over and over, to edit the comment to get through. On many occasions I’ve not been able to determine the reason for their objection. I don’t really mind that they facilitate members to mark comments as objectionable, but there should be some responsible review before removing a comment, and the rules should be well defined.

      Overall, I think they do an absolutely terrible job of censorship. So long as the poster isn’t attacking an individual or using objectionable language, I fail to see why they want to dilute the conversation. But as bad as their overall performance is, what really grieves me the most is that your censored comment just disappears into the ether without feedback. If there’s a large backup of unapproved comments, it could be hours before you even know if you’ve been censored, and even them you’ll have no idea why.

      I’ve even sent several emails to their “customer service” department asking for clarification. I’ve yet to receive even a “f-off” response. The bottom line is that Huffington Post sucks!

  5. Your comment is reasonable and well thought-out, and should not be censored. I see plenty of conservative comments which remain on the site (especially the ones supporting RIAA/TSA/Obama. I am a progressive, and have watched MSM-type content (celebrity fluff) on the site. I have had several comments censored by the Huffington Post. I am through with their website, and will not patronize any of their sponsors. My comments are reasonable, but I sense that the HuffPo is veering centrist-right in what is allowed on as comments.

    • We’re in agreement. I’m not leaving yet, really because the site still provides the most vibrant environment for political discussion, but I am getting closer. I agree that they’ve moved to the right, but I’m sure we would get much argument from conservatives. The real problem is that they’re just terribly inconsistent in their censorship and that they have to feedback mechanism. If they were to establish objective rules, stick to them, and provide some feedback when censoring, it would all be a non-issue. But unfortunately, I get the feeling that they just don’t care.

      It would be nice if we could somehow form a campaign and get somebody at Huff to listen.

  6. Don’t take it personally. Big sites filter with relatively primitive mechanisms.

    • I don’t think Huffington Post’s censoring is personal, but I do think it’s poorly conceived, inefficiently executed, and completely counterproductive.

  7. This is a late comment, but I am so grateful to have found this discussion. I do not comment a lot on HP and have always been respectful as there is no reason not to be. My last three comments were censured and I cannot understand why. It bothered me enough to search out any interesting comment close to the top of a comment section of a random and recent article and reply simply: Great insight into a complex issue.

    It never appeared. That was a week ago. I do begin to wonder if my name has not been flagged somehow, though I couldn’t imagine why that would be either. It doesn’t matter if one is left or right or inbetween. There’s no rhyme or reason, but it makes one feel like crap spending sincere time and effort to present a thoughtful comment and it is rejected in favor of some comment that was accepted calling so and so a jerk or an idiot or whatnot.

    At least I know I am not alone in my disenchantment with a news source I genuinely liked.

    There was nothing wrong with your comment discussion on HP, there is something wrong with HP itself.

    Thanks~

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s just too bad that they’ve completely sealed themselves off at Huffington Post and there’s no way for their customers to get service. I’ve sent them several emails about specific instances of censorship, and I’ve not received even a single response — not even to tell me where to go. It is without doubt the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced.

      The bottom line is that their system doesn’t work, but they’re not listening to anyone about how they might fix it.

  8. If your comments have never been deleted at huffingtonpost then you are not making very good comments.
    They don’t want you attack the central thesis of any particular article. If you do that, they will often be deleted.
    Is fairly random though, different moderators clearly have different standards. You have to remember that none of these people get paid (even though huffington herself just pocketed $100 million), and are by definition amateurs. Once one of them recognizes your name as someone they don’t like you will begin to be censored more and more

    I find that comments that are to the left of the democratic party suffer the most censorship.

    • Joe,
      The thing isn’t so much being censored as having no feedback. It leaves you to post a comment and then sit and wonder what’s going on. If it doesn’t post after a period of time, you’re still not sure whether it’s still in the queue to be reviewed of if it’s been deleted. Then to top it all off, when you are censored, you often have no idea why. And that’s not even to mention the impact that the backup in the review queue has on near-real-time conversations.

      The truth is that Huffington presents their site as an open forum, yet they censor far beyond the mere policing of rudeness or profanity. And the bottom line is that not only is free speech dead at Huffington Post, but so is customer service.

  9. Today my entire profile and all my comments were deleted because I objected to the moderators allowing comments that posted the address and phone number of a particular cartoonist who made fun of the Obamas. The story was heavily moderated with over 30 pending comments yet they let through these comments with the address and phone number while disallowing my comment that argued for freedom of expression. Whether you like or dislike the cartoonist’s depiction of Obama is beside the point. It is unacceptable to allow the posting of anyone’s address or phone number for any reason. The comments with the address and phone number remained up for at least an hour even though I (and I’m sure others) flagged them. When I returned to the story three hours later all the posts containing the phone numbers were removed as they should have been. But then I discovered that my entire profile and every one of my comments I’d ever posted were also removed! Why? Maybe because I dared to object to the sleazy hypocrisy of the moderators? I will never ever in a million years have anything to do with The Huffington Post ever again.

    • I don’t know what to say, Gello. I can’t believe that they deleted your entire profile. I’ve complained many times without punitive action beyond censoring my comment. It really is such a sad commentary for a site that’s supposed to represent open dialog. There should be some way to connect with management at Huffington Post and complain. If they were open to some small changes, most of the censorship issues could be addressed. It’s a pity.

  10. The increase in censorship can be sourced directly to the heat Arianna Huffington received from Bill O’Reilly years ago when he linked a nasty comment someone had posted directly to her. Basically saying she is responsible for ALL comments left on the site.

    Arianna capitulated, brought in heavy censorship and from that day on the original spirit of the Huffpo was pretty much extinguished.

    I’ve been using the site since 2005 and can recall the good old days when you could even use the F word if you so chose, imagine that.

    I take pride in my posts wherever I post them and take care in their composition. It’s therefore galling when they never make it through the ‘barbed wire’ because they fail to fit in with Arianna Huffington’s new corporate agenda. And the mass influx of illiterati from the AOL side of the equation has only made this worse.

    I think there needs to be a mass exodus to make a point, that without visitors to the site it will die. And in its present form I think it probably should.

    • James,
      I’ve pretty much given up on HuffPost. The censorship seems to even have gotten worse recently. I can’t remember the last time I made a post that was posted without being reviewed, which was still the rule only a few months ago. It’s gone from only those posts that triggered some sort of flag to what appears to be 100% of posts being reviewed. It’s just not worth the effort, especially with the vibrant dialog that can be found elsewhere.

      Cheers,
      Dave

  11. i have cut and pasted EVERY comment and replies to my comments on the huffpost. i have NEVER have used offensive or vulgar language nor have i used ANY derogatory personal comments worse than “obtuse”. MY OPINION ALONE was censored and i am have been “BLACKED OUT” for over two months now and can no longer contribute. WITHOUT DOUBT, it is due to the fact that my opinions are CONSERVATIVE. my solution would be for all similarly censored to start writing campaign to conservative radio talk show hosts (ie, limbaugh, savage, reagan et al) to have them encourage their audience to switch from AOL.

    • Oddly enough, I’m not a conservative, and I too have been censored repeatedly at Huffington Post, without using profanity or behaving in any way that one might think would warrant censorship. I don’t believe that HuffPost censors based on political position but rather that people just get caught up in what appears to be an overly restrictive review system, without objective criteria and evidently operated by people who fancy themselves as thought police.

      Be Well,
      Dave

  12. sure hope this “moderation” to which your site refers ONLY applies to vulgar language. if not.., that would be incredibly ironic.

  13. Just imagine if you were posting comments that disagreed with their official positions….

    • I’ve been censored there sufficiently often and read enough opposition posts to believe that there’s no partisan bias, just an incompetent team of censors using an ineffective and closed system.

  14. It is surprising that a newspaper would censor responses. What part of the First Amendment confuses them. I tried to post something about today article entitle Cuck Fancer… And I posted something like f@ck cancer–ant the censors wouldn’t post it. Zounds! The ne0-nazis are alive and well in the huffington post… Course a woman editor. … what else should be expected?

  15. The retards at Huffpo will not allow the use of the word retard..

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