As George Bernard Shaw pointed out,

"All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship."

Or as Julian Assange said, "What does censorship reveal? It reveals fear".

Or Pablo Antonio Caudra,

"Let us be clear: censorship is cowardice. ... It masks corruption. It is a school of torture: it teaches, and accustoms one to the use of force against an idea, to submit thought to an alien "other." But worst still, censorship destroys criticism, which is the essential ingredient of culture".

Or Voltaire, "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too".

Need I go on?

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    I assume this is referring specifically to your recent question on this site? If so, you should ask about it on meta with specifics. If it's not, give us a bit more context and a little less argument. – divibisan Feb 2 at 3:48
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    StackExchange is a private entity, not a government, therefore it can't engage in censorship. If it chooses to not to allow certain things, that is its right, just as I have the right to expect certain standards of behavior from people who visit my house. and to eject them if I don't like their behavior. – jamesqf Feb 2 at 3:54
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    This is not a government, so it is hard to describe it as authoritarian. It is not a university, so it has no reason to be academic or otherwise. It is not even a "public square" as some CEO once described Facebook and Twitter, near-monopolies used for communication of all sorts. It is a site with a limited and specific purview, and that purview may well not include your questions. – Obie 2.0 Feb 2 at 4:08
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    You questions haven't actually been censored. They've been closed due their polemic and sometimes unclear/too-broad nature. (And I'm saying this as someone who has tried to improve one for your questions.) That the site automatically deletes some closed questions after a while is something you can inquire about elsewhere (i.e. on meta). And likewise if it's really unclear to you why your questions have been closed. – Fizz Feb 2 at 4:20
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    No one else thinks that it ever pretended to be anything of the sort. The policy is set by a corporation and its CEOs, for instance. It is is not democratic, and it does not try to be. It has community input, but that is different. – Obie 2.0 Feb 2 at 4:28
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    And part of that philosophy has been to have somewhat/mostly objective questions in scope meta.stackexchange.com/a/55968/278912 – Fizz Feb 2 at 4:36
  • My friend, you are in the wrong place. You need to be careful here. Wrongthink comments and questions can just disappear without out a trace. Fizz, this plase is curated out the wazoo. – acpilot Feb 2 at 5:03
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    @BeginnerBiker: I have no idea what brought this on — I'll have to look into it, and see if I can suss it out from context — but honestly, dial it back a bit. I have issues with this site's moderation policy myself, but nobody here has an agenda. If your posts are getting pulled it's because you're doing something off kilter; if we figure out what that is, you can fix it so your posts won't get pulled – Ted Wrigley Feb 2 at 6:13
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    moderation != censorship – Barmar Feb 2 at 6:37
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    I have no context for what's going on, and you haven't given any. From your conduct here in the comments, I assume you had a question closed and you're not happy about that. If so, cloaking it in cries of censorship would be anti-academic. This is not a democracy; we are all guests, and our host sets the rules. You might not agree with the rules, or how they're being enforced, but crying censorship won't change that. What might is telling us what this is about. – Schwern Feb 2 at 8:00
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    @jamesqf I'm always amused at this very narrow definition of censorship you americans have. Censorship can be done by anyone who has the means of publishing or prevent publication of a speech. It can be done by governments, by publishing companies, by the media, and by the author themselves - then it's called self-censorship. Censorhip by the government is expressely forbidden in the US Constitution; all other forms of censorship are allowed, though, and they are censorship. – Rekesoft Feb 2 at 10:18
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    There is absolutely nothing anti-academic or anti-democratic about censoring certain questions. "Should the Jews be exterminated?" is a good example. I expect that question to be censored. Any site which doesn't censor that question is highly suspicious. – user253751 Feb 2 at 10:35
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    @Rekesoft: No, it is not censorship. You are just applying the looking glass approach to vocabulary: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – jamesqf Feb 2 at 17:21
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    Crying censorship when one gets moderated is a derailing tactic. It shifts the focus away from the specifics of their own behavior and towards a much more generic argument. Don't fall for it. – Schwern Feb 2 at 20:34
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    Regarding "anti-academic": Academia is extremely intolerant of people just saying anything, and proud of its protocols (e.g., peer-review) that filter out the non-sense. – Nat Feb 3 at 6:56

Let me respond to a vague question full of quotes with a related quote by Randall Munroe (webcomic author):

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I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.

If you would like a more serious answer to the very important topic about what we should and shouldn't censor on this website, please add some of your own arguments to the debate which are relevant to this website instead of just quoting a bunch of people who weren't even talking about moderating Q&A platforms on the Internet.


It depends.

Rigidly clinging to political or scientific dogma or political correctness, and refusing to reconsider, may be anti-intellectual. If it is censorship depends on the details.

Insisting that debate -- on a web forum or in an academic institution -- is on topic and that it meets standards of politeness and mutual respect is not censorship. If people hold a scientific conference on biblical studies, and someone shows up who insists to yell about Darwin, the conference organizers are well within their rights to shut that heckler up. Darwin belongs to biology, not theology or textual criticism.

Also, the cloud is other peoples' computers. All those servers belong to someone, and are paid for by someone. There are ongoing debates what censorship means in that context, and it is far from clear that companies like Facebook or Google have an obligation to host opinions on their systems if they don't share them.

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