Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Sun, 12 Mar 1995 16:01:24 +1000

William Bangs writes:
: Censorship is always wrong; writing your opinion on the Internet is
: always right.

A position commonly held, but not really a tenable one, at least not
with a broad definition of censorship. Are people entitled to voice
their opinions in every newsgroup in USENET, including ones where it
is completely irrelevant? If Robert Johnson dumped so much material
to anthro-l that it became unusuable for most of the participants,
would that be defensible in the name of "free speech"?

You don't have a right to send unwanted email to people. If Hugh
decides that he doesn't want Robert Johnson sending messages to
anthro-l, then any mail Robert sends to anthro-l becomes unwanted.
He would still be free to send mail privately (or via a list of his
own) to those people on the list who wished to receive his messages,
of course, which is why what Robert Thornton is advocating is *not*
censorship, but comparable to requesting an unwanted interloper
in a gathering to leave.

Yes, this makes Hugh a dictator over anthro-l. So what? If he fails
to heed the wishes of most anthro-l participants, we'll all leave and
start news lists, and he'll be left as a tyrant over an empty list.


Luca Boscardin replies to Robert Thornton:
> As far as censorship is concerned, your suggestion that RJ be thrown off
> the list is truly indicative of the moral morass of today's anthropology.
> I want to remind you and others of the many contributions that RJ has made
> to this list, and particularly of the Chiapas reposts he has sent us, of
> the "Declaration of Indigenous People on the genome project", of the "
> Balinese Tourism Development Resistance", of the "Amazon Indians being
> evicted in Brazil", of the "Crow Canyon Disneyland and real Estate
> Development", and of today's "Chiapas and the School of the Americas".
> These are all valuable contributions to the list, contributions that have
> allowed many of us to connect with relevant issues, individuals, and
> research opportunities.

I found all the postings you mention interesting, but I'm not sure
they all belong on this list, as they are reasonably marginal to
anthropology. This is not to say that these things shouldn't be
discused, but simply that there are other fora for discussing them.
I think there should have been one or two messages along the lines
of "Anyone interested in reports of current events in Chiapas should
subscribe to chiapas-l. <instructions on how to subscribe to that
list>", perhaps with messages of particular relevance to anthropology
being copied to anthro-l. This may seem unduely restrictive, but I
feel it is important for participants to be disciplined about sending
material to the right place -- just imagine what things would be like
if everyone here forwarded one message a day about their favourite
cause to the list!

Luca Boscardin:
> If his postings offend you, too bad! That's no
> reason to demand that he be excluded from the list. Who are you, anyhow,
> to demand such course of action? Maybe YOU should question YOUR political
> beliefs regarding this totalitarian attitude of YOURS...

Robert Thornton didn't "demand" anything of the sort, as the
following excerpts make quite clear.

Robert Thornton:
| Quite frankly, I am tired of Robert Johnson's childishness.

| we can censure Robert Johnson for his own perverse
| violences, and perhaps deny him the forum for the rehersal of his
| sad madnesses.

| My feeling is that the Internet, and this list, is not the place
| for Robert Johnson to work out his anger and his frustrations, and
| certainly not the place to advocate violence, no matter whose side he
| may really be on. (And I must say, I really do not know.) I do not
| normally advocate censoring any discourse. I do not do so now from
| any moral high horse.

| But whatever his motives
| may be, and whatever his background and experience, I do not want to
| read his advocacy for human bloodshed on this list anymore. I have
| had enough of that, and I have had enough of Robert Johnson, the moral
| child, and his tantrums.

Robert Thornton made it quite clear that he was expressing his own
opinion and his own wishes.

Danny Yee.