Charles Harries

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Censorship

Discussions of censorship are reaching a local maximum on Twitter, despite the fact that censorship doesn't really mean anything.

Discussions of censorship are reaching a bit of a local maximum on Twitter as a result of a certain billionaire's semi-abortive takeover attempt & crusade against... the algorithm's silencing of powerful voices? & before I mute the term, I want to record my reaction to appeals to censorship.

Hark: just like "innovation", the word "censorship" doesn't actually signify anything. Nothing meaningful, no position on issues, nothing actionable. Instead, it's a boogeyman that bad-faith actors on Twitter deploy to indicate that someone's preventing them from disseminating their message. That's it.

I have no position on censorship—just like I don't have a position on culture or transportation, since they, like censorship, are so broad that having an opinion on them is semantically unparseable. "I'm a big proponent of e.g. seating," said no one ever.

Don't get me wrong—insofar as censorship just means "you can't do that", there are:

These are all personal value judgments, and it's possible for you to disagree with me, and that's fine. But, crucially, you can extrapolate these opinions into relationships, or into policy, or into codes of conduct, or into approaches to economics and society. My point is: these positions mean something, and you can hold me to account on them. I'm not just saying, "Censorship is great," or "Censorship is awful"; I'm commenting on the underlying acts instead.

So next time you see someone decrying censorship & modern snowflake culture, ask yourself instead what the poster is actually opposed to, and what their vagueness is meant to make you feel.

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