In a question Why didn't Thatcher give Hong Kong to Taiwan? there was a deleted off topic answer of some nervous Chinese from the Mainland, user Guibao Wang:
I'm from China. I really love StackOverflow as it is an excellent technology source. But... This politics.stackexchange.com, especially questions like this one is a bit getting out of line.
I guess everyone knows there's Internet censorship around China. If the content on some website gets serious enough to attract the governors' attention, they will block it. We have seen Google, Wikipedia, Quora, and many other sites being blocked. I Don't wanna StackOverflow added to the list. I really love StackOverflow, so let's keep it a technology place (or at least politics-free), so that it keeps open to China.
Welcome, Guibao. I understand Chinese culture doesn't like openly talking about politics or history. I live in an Open Society. So facts about politics or history are just as much something to ask questions about as 'technology'. Xi Jinping allows you to come to StackOverflow to steal the Intellectual Property of Western culture; but not to take part in the Open Society. Sorry, that's very selfish and arrogant of the PRC. No deal.
Don't you see that problem here is the actual censorship? It makes no sense to change a whole website just to cater to one country. If something gets banned then just get a VPN, I know many Chinese that do the same –
As George Orwell said: “The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.” To say the discussion of politics is 'getting out of line' and to 'keep it free of politics' is to deprive people of their ability to tell the truth. This is unacceptable. The problem you are describing is with the Communist Party, not with Stack Overflow for having a politics section.
Hi there, Guibao Wang! Please notice that this is not Stack Overflow, the technology place that you love; but Politics.SE, a member site of the Stack Exchange network, created specifically to talk about politics. While your concerns about censorship are legitimate and we all understand them, it seems rather selfish to try to silence political debate on other countries on the grounds of your own country not allowing for it. Also, bear in mind that Stack Overflow is accessed through stackoverflow.com, while for most other SE sites it's stackexchange.com — different domain ;)
User Philipp answered:
If you would like to discuss the Politics Stack Exchange site policy, please raise your concerns on politics.meta.stackexchange.com. But I believe that this request would fall on deaf ears, because the democratic world has no intention to accomodate the Chinese government wishes to suppress information about politics. It is sad that you have to live under an oppressive government, but there is no reason for people who are lucky enough to live in free countries to voluntarily extend that oppression to themselves.
OK, we may we simply consider it as narrow case - China has here an excessively restrictive regulations, we love free speech and marketplace of ideas, we would not bow to that - case closed. But what about general case of local cultural sensitivities when they start go in to conflict with each other?
I pick this example just because I'm familiar with it and shows that my issue is not purely academic - User Phillip a while ago deleted my answer, under rather stretched accusation of antisemitism. Maybe I could try to express myself even more carefully, but it was already controversial issue in subsequent discussion. It would become even more complicated if we take in to account different cultural sensitivities - in Poland we have ultra high support for freedom of speech, no PC-culture and government which even by my expectations is somewhat overly nationalistic. So, yes, in hindsight values clash was inevitable. On top of it, in further discussion in meta the whole issue was addressed by a Chinese, suggesting to explain Jewish success in terms of "race realism" and their higher genetic IQ. So again we had another taboo violation, just in this case Chinese culture actually was much more permissible in discussing that particular contentious issue. (by Polish standards "race realism" is mostly unknown, but would be tolerated)
OK, so when a some issue or way of expressing is not a taboo in North American/Western Europe - then it seems fine and uncontroversial. But what to do in the opposite situation? When some issue is actually taboo there and users from other cultures look bewildered? Be more flexible towards freedom of speech because of cultural differences? Or maybe pick some soft form of simple majoritarian view - if majority of users comes from one cultural circle, then their cultural sensitivities are right by default, even when it may look a bit like cultural chauvinism from those from other cultures?