Freedom of Expression

David Kristofferson kristoff at genbank.bio.net
Thu Nov 28 13:11:40 EST 1991


> Since it was me who referred to "thought control" several months ago I assume
> that David addresses these comments to me. I deeply regret that David feels
> that I can't "control myself" when I respond to racist comments. I also 
> deeply regret that David and I have such different views of "open expression".
> It is difficult for me to understand how one could value freedom of
> expression while at the same time threatening to censure someone who
> diasagrees with you.

You are right that I referred to your past comment about "thought
control" because I fully expected to be pummeled by "free speech"
advocates once again when I intervened.  However, the rest of your
conclusion about your personal traits is NOT mentioned anywhere in my
message and is something that you read into my writing.

Let's "get real," folks.  These newsgroups have been running for over
five years without anyone using words like "nigger" on them.  When
this kind of thing happens, when discussion on bionet.molbio.evolution
falls to this level and goes off on tangents such as the history of
Haiti and aspersions (joking or otherwise) on Arizona scientists
because their state did not approve the Martin Luther King holiday,
when objections about these postings are raised on the newsgroup and
others start unsubscribing (not everyone is public about it); it is
perfectly reasonable for the moderator to issue a warning.  No one was
unsubscribed although the threat was definitely made.  We can debate
forever whether or not freedom of speech should be completely
unlimited.  I personally think that freedom of speech is not an excuse for
totally irresponsible behavior, and I think that people have got to be
sensible enough to realize that one can walk a middle ground in this
area between totalitarianism and anarchy.

These forums are for scientific communications and are far "freer"
than any print journal.  As I said in my previous posting, the
comments made would have never made it past a professional editorial
staff into print.  That too could obviously be described as
"censorship."  Why don't we let Jones and similar folks publish
anything they wish in J. Biol. Chem.?  USENET can be a great morass;
we are trying hard to keep the bionet forums at a higher standard.
You do not have to agree with me, of course, but, of the mail that I
have received, far more people seem to see some logic in my position
that are opposed to it.  You might retort about "minority rights,"
etc., but this would be an endless rehash of arguments that we have
all heard a million times over.  Let's get back to science, please,
and carry on political discussions in non-bionet forums.

				Sincerely,

				Dave Kristofferson
				GenBank Manager

				kristoff at genbank.bio.net



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