Usenet fascism

Jeff Shannon jeff at
Fri Feb 8 22:51:01 CET 2002

Steve Holden wrote:

> "Courageous" <jkraska at> wrote in message
> news:kk186ugk4hpo7m0eca81bv2lm2d0smnjiv at
> >
> > >1. Nobody or nothing gives you that right.
> >
> > That's the _one_ thing you're mistaken about. I can
> > entertain the idea of everything else you said, but
> > the notion that people don't have the right to do this
> > is just plain wrong. Plainly is the right not only held,
> > but it can be exercised.
> >
> I suspect you are confusing rights and abilities.
> If we are talking, and I am carrying a gun when something you say gets up my
> nose, I have the ability to shoot you in the head just to make you feel
> sorry you uttered inflammatory words.
> I don't have the *right* to do that, however. Most civilized countries would
> have some legal sanction if I exercised that ability.

This is true, but the express nature of Usenet (at least in unmoderated groups)
is that it is an open forum in which subjects can be freely discussed.  Part of
"free discussion" is the ability to ask people to *not* discuss certain things
(or with certain individuals).  It is, of course, the right of everyone else to
ignore or ridicule such requests, as well....  ;)

In America, we (at least some of us) are constantly reminding ourselves (and I
*hope* that it never gets forgotten!) that the right to free speech includes the
right to say potentially offensive things.  Indeed, that's the *only* sort of
speech that's worth having legal protection for.  (Where's the freedom in not
being able to complain, because complaints are "offensive"?)

Of course, just because one has a right, doesn't necessarily mean that it's
advisable to exercise it.  :)

So, to my mind, Tim Rue has a right to post whatever sort of drivel he wants.
Everyone else has the right to ignore him, and to ask others to ignore him.
Those asked to ignore him have the right to ignore those requests.  And anyone
who's really bothered by the whole mess, can just start killfiling and the
problem will rapidly disappear.  :)

Jeff Shannon
Credit International

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