I think there’s a grey area.
I don’t think there’s a grey area because I am a fascist, a rape apologist, or whatever buzzword is being used to designate opinions and people you disagree with now (those words are thrown around so much they are losing all meaning). I think there’s a grey area because I have been a part of an internet culture in which if you disagreed with the slightest thing, you would be instantly no-platformed. Not disagreeing with things like “hey, trans people deserve rights” or “racism is institutional”, but disagreeing with things like “telling someone to kill themselves is venting”.
Yes, these people were ordinary citizens. But there were a hell of a lot of them, and they were much more unified (almost to the point of a hive mind) than the people who disagreed with them. Often they were more popular and – dare I say it? – had a bigger platform. So they were effectively using social capital and the fear of shame to guilt people into silence. That’s a form of censorship.
Also, funny how the person talking about how no platforming is a tool of The People against The Man…has written for the Independent, is to the best of my knowledge pursuing a PhD, and has appeared on the Beeb, I believe. I’m not going to go into the Julie Bindel incident because she had the decency to apologise.
However, she has paid platforms, social capital and widespread recognition. I have nothing. I do this in my spare time. I have been platformed precisely twice; one was through chance, one I did on my own. I do not get paid for this. I am about 9000 times more voiceless than she is.
Maybe talk to people like us about no platforming, huh?
Some people genuinely seem to believe that no platforming and censorship are the same thing. It comes up every now and then, this annoying argument, like a turd that just won’t flush. And so I write this post, in an attempt to break it up with a butter knife before flushing again.
Let’s start by discussing what censorship is. Censorship is something that comes from the top down: it’s done by the government or the media, those with the power to control who speaks in the public domain. The aim of censorship is to quash dissent, to silence voices speaking out against their aims, and to maintain the status quo. Censorship can only be enacted by those who are capable of doing so: those who have the means of blocking webpages, redacting documents, editing what gets published, and so forth. Censorship is an expression of power.
Let’s compare this to…
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