Quiet-List 1997

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Free expression on mailing list



Hello everyone,

I'm writing this message in response to the fact that one of my posts got
bounced because of the use of foul language, and felt I would like to get a
debate going about this and about free expression on the group in general.

I am new to this group , and don't know how long it's been around or how it
has evolved over time, but I have to say that I have already received a
private e-mail message from someone who stated they felt that his views
were not welcome on this group, and that he felt that he had to be
extra-sensitive about certain topics, and thus was responding to one of my
posts through private e-mail only. Now I am confronted with having a
message bounced because of foul language, and I have to say that I too, am
beginning to feel that I have to "walk on eggshells" to avoid offending
people on this group, which is a situation I am immensely uncomfortable
with. If there are other people who feel intimidated or uncomfortable about
expressing themselves here, then I think that is a major problem.

Before I say anything else, let me say that I will respect whatever
policies the group chooses to adopt, but that I also feel that people
should be able to say whatever they feel like in the manner in which they
choose, provided that they can avoid personal attacks, flame wars and
general visciousness. There should be no censorship, or constraint of any
kind on the expression of people's ideas. That being said, I  have never
seen an Internt mailing list , especially in new groups, where free
expression *didn't* degenerate into personal attacks and flame wars at some
point. However, this seems to be part of the "maturing" process of
mailing-lists, and groups eventually settle into relatively balanced
discussion as they "grow up."

I therefore wonder if the price of avoiding offending anybody on the list
is perhaps too high, in that it may stifle people's expression, but is not
a real guarantor against things degenerating into flamage anyway (and I
hope this message doesn't spark a conflagration!) But at the risk of
offending some people, let me say that while some people may be extremely
sensitive about many things like foul language, ultimately forcing everyone
to defer to every thing each individual feels sensitive about not only
stifles debate but  feeds into some of the worst stereotypes about people
who object to excessive noise: that we are just a bunch of over-sensitive,
neurotic complainers with nothing better to do then whine about every
little problem, and that there is no way to compromise with us. I for one
recognize that my own over-sensitivity is *part of* the noise problem, with
the disrespect and indifference of others being the other part, and that it
is my responsibility to try and develop a little tolerance for that which
cannot be reasonably, effectively or fairly corrected to suit my personal
preference. I hope I am not alone in this feeling.

Thanks for letting me rant,

Sean Conlon


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