Obscenity is very much in the eye of the beholder IMHO. Sure, there are words that invoke negative connotations and can be construed as being offensive as well as having aggressive intent.

What the misguided soul who posted the node in question did was a lame attempt at a cheap joke. Worthy of a downvote or hundred, but censorship?

I moderate several different electronic mail lists for topics ranging from dog training to barbeque. Folks that engage in dog training as well as folks that are into barbeque can be a very passionate lot with respect to their beliefs, techniques and just the topic at hand in general.

In the dog community, very thankfully, the use of profanity is very rare. Given that at a competition of either agility or obedience use of profanity is enough to get you sent home for the rest of the competition. Do that enough times and you can get banned from competion for an extended period of time. I've actually had to sit in on in an official capacity when a disciplinary hearing had to be held to deal with charges of this nature.

The AKC and NADAC (two of the officiating venues involved) have made the statement that dog performance sports are to be family friendly. Sorta like Perlmonks... right? So the use of profanity is considered a big deal.

I say all that to say this: while I am a proponent of free speech and I'm not exactly an angel myself when it comes to profanity there are venues where it is inappropriate. During an AKC disciplinary hearing the phrase used as a result of someone using profanity includes "determimental to the sport of dogs." So the real question becomes when someone uses profanity here at the Monastery "Is this deterimental to the Monastery?"

As far as reaping a node that contains profanity goes I have to say there is some caution that needs to be excersized. Censorship, IMHO, is a slippery slope. If one post should be censored... what about that one?

For my mailing lists where someone has posted something that offends others (note.. not me... others) my first action is to email them privately and say something like "you know, I'm catching some flack on your behalf over what you said. Can you tone it down?"

Most reasonable folks will apologise and be more careful about what they post in the future. About one in one hundred times I'll run into an non-repentant and I'll have to invoke one of my tools and place them on moderation. Now I'm in the uncomfortable position (or myself and my co-moderators are) of approving or not approving everything this person posts. I hate that. But sometimes you have no choice.

Given that we are an online community I think these matters sort themselves out very nicely. If someone is being offensive either by using profanity or saying bad things about Larry Wall we have the option of downvoting that person. We further have the option of having the node considered. That consideration is then voted on and a majority can then decide what the fate of the offending node is going to be. Democracy in action. Much better IMHO than a benevolant dictatorship because it puts less pressure on the dictator.

As I said before in this post, censorship is a slippery slope. Which is why as a list moderator I tend to be very lenient and I'm not willing to jump on people and say "that's offensive" or "that's off topic" unless the offense is blatent.


Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg

In reply to Re: Consideration for obscenity by blue_cowdawg
in thread Consideration for obscenity by ptum

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