Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: TV & the First Amendment

Author:Jeremy Bowers
Posted:10/26/1999; 11:27:08 AM
Topic:TV & the First Amendment
Msg #:12369 (In response to 12360)
Prev/Next:12368 / 12370

The point does not lie in the details of the metaphor. The point is that Third Voice can suppress the free speech of the webmaster in much the same way as those counter-protesters would have.

You certainly don't get that from the Third Voice literature, goodness knows that's all sweetness and light. But have you actually used the service? I've seen this suppression happen already, I saw it happen when the service was a only a few weeks old. In fact, Third Voice kept track of the top 5 most active areas for a while, and generally, 2 of the 5 were suppression attempts on anti-TV websites, Microsoft usually showed up with nasty stuff all over it's webpage, and the remaining two were typically search engines and such with just a random assortment of junk on them.

Microsoft's a bit big to suppress, but goodness knows those anti-TV ones drained the webmaster of those sites to the point where most people would have simply folded up and left. And it certainly felt to them like a direct assault on them.

And I submit that no meaningful difference can be found between the worst mobbing behavior and a "simple" post. Numbers aren't the issue, it's that Third Voice is every bit as much an inturruption to a webmaster free speech rights as somebody jumping into the middle of Martin Luther King's speech, grabbing the microphone for a moment, and disagreeing with his grammar on a certain point.

Of course, the crowd isn't FORCED to listen to the inturrupter, but I doubt that will be very consoling to the speaker. If the inturruper has something to say, they should need to set up their own soap box, and, well, they aren't going to get as large an audience as the speaker in all likelihood. That's life; it has to work that way.

Free speech depends on civil discourse (there's no free speech in a mob). Third Voice eliminates civil discourse from the web when used, regardless of the content of the messages, because it is inherently an inturruption.

(Of course, if the webmaster allows others to share the platform, then it's a null issue. Annotation services do not currently concern themselves with that, though.)

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