Wednesday, November 02, 2005

If Linguist Friend had an advice column

It would probably read something like this:

There is some debate on the UU blogosphere about the meaning of the word "censorship."

If I remove someone's post from my blog, can I be said to "Censor" them?

My understanding was that "censorship" could only be done by a government, and that was the crucial difference between "Censorship" and "Editing." Looking at the word in the Shorter O.E.D. and the Random House Unabridged, I can see some justitification for the first definition, though.

Shed some light?



The third place I would look for an authoritative view would be the
Webster's Third International, which recognizes both governmental and
non-governmental censorship, and distinguishes them. For instance, s.v.
censor: "2. a supervisor or inspector esp. of conduct and morals: a: an
official empowered to examine written or printed matter (as manuscripts or
books or plays)in order to forbid publication, circulation, or
representation if it contains something objectionable . . . e. One who
lacking official sanction but acting ostensibly in society's interests
scrutinizes communications, compositions, and entertainments to discover
anything immoral, profane, seditious, heretical, or otherwise offensive".
e. seems relevant.

Best Wishes,

Linguist Friend


If I am not removing a response to one of my posts on the basis of a MORAL objection, but rather a PRACTICAL one.

(E.g. The response is about something that has little to do with the post and I don't wish to derail discussion)

Is that really censoring?


I do not believe that the situation you describe constitutes
censorship. It simply constitutes a recognition that there is a continually
shifting window of focus of what is relevant for posting. The subject
window for the posting you refer to is not the one currently effective. It
is like when the dean of a medical school was put in charge of long-term
planning, which meant that he was removed from control over anything that
affected the medical school in the present or immediate future, at any
given time, which was a very good idea.

Best wishes -
Linguist Friend

1 comment:

Joel Monka said...

This reminds me of a running debate I have with several friends every year when "Banned Book Week" rolls around... I maintain that there is not one single banned book on their list. Not one of them has been prevented from publication or distribution, the ownership of them is legal, and the authors are not in jail. They seem to feel that the failure of a public school to buy a given book is the same thing as Nazi bookburning.