Should the post ‘Schools Opening – Why Aren’t the Children the Priority?’ be censored on Nextdoor?
Our country was founded on free speech and that includes speech you might not like or speech that you may not agree with. Our Founding Fathers fought long and hard over the wording of our constitution and the subsequent Bill of Rights.
So that raises the question: Was it right for the January posting on Nextdoor Palisades, “Schools Opening — Why Aren’t the Children the Priority?” to be censored by Nextdoor monitors?
Yesterday, I was looking for the email chain regarding the Back to School in Los Angeles controversy when I noticed that one person had quoted the Constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
When I clicked on the link to Nextdoor and tried to find the man’s complete message, the quote and the post had already been removed. Why? I sent a message to the person posting, but never received a response. Maybe he had been removed from Nextdoor?
The man who posted the January “Schools Opening” question was indeed censored, and when he responded on the site that “thought police” had taken down his posting, he was banned from the site for 21 days.
I reached out to several Nextdoor “Leads” to find out how someone can be banned from the site, but never receive a response. One helpful person directed me to Nextdoor’s Community Guidelines.
It turns out that not only can Leads flag a post, but community members can as well.
So, if I don’t like what you’re posting and I think it’s dangerous or subversive or I just want to get back at you, because you’re letting your dog poop on my front lawn, I can contact a Lead and suggest that the person’s posting be dropped.
Nextdoor would never entrust a freedom of speech issue to local people without extensive training, right? Wrong. One of the sole credentials for signing up to be a Lead is you might have been the first person to volunteer. And Leads can choose anyone they want as a co-Lead, which means they can vote with them on banning posts, which represents censorship.
Luckily, there are strict Nextdoor Guidelines, taking the guessing out of whether someone should be banned:
“We encourage members to have conversations about the issues that matter to them in a way that is constructive, civil, and builds community. I realize this isn’t always easy because we care passionately about the places we call home.
“That said, Nextdoor is not a place to attack, berate, belittle, insult, harass, threaten, troll, or swear at your neighbors or their views even if you strongly disagree with them. This includes communication within a Group or via private message.
“Please remember that each member is responsible for making sure their own content follows the Guidelines, regardless of what others may post. If you see members of your community violating the Guidelines, please report any inappropriate messages, report their account, or contact your Leads for support.”
The man who voiced what many of us have been saying, “Open the Schools,” was silenced and his post removed. When he objected to it being taken down and called a Lead “thought police,” he violated Nextdoor’s Guidelines.
Franz Kafka wrote, “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? . . . But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide.”
As much as I have hated being called various names in recent years, including “racist,” “queer,” “Indian,” “Whitie,” “Dyke,” “Republican,” “Democrat” and “Ugly and fat,” and being accused of siding with one group or another, I will defend your right, as an American, to say those things.
I am strong enough in who I am that I don’t need your approval. I would like it, but free speech is more important.
How effective is local censorship? Extremely effective because it has been tried before and worked.
The following comments have been taken from a report titled “German Collaboration and Complicity,” by The Wiener Holocaust Library:
“. . .some citizens passed on information about their neighbors, family, and friends . . . and this was called informing.”
“Nazi propaganda presented the Gestapo as an omnipresent all-seeing, all-knowing group, but in reality there was just one secret police officer for approximately every 10,000 citizens of Nazi Germany. The Gestapo were therefore reliant on a network of thousands of informants.
“The information passed on by informants typically accused someone of breaking the law or of being a criminal in some way. The information provided was not always based on fact and could often be rumor or suspicion.
“For example, if someone had stereotypical Jewish features, they might be informed on to be a potential Jew, and would therefore have to prove that they were not a Jew to the Gestapo or face torture and imprisonment. Informants reported on a number of different undesirable activities, such as anti-Nazi sentiment, communist activity, Jews in hiding, people suspected to be Jews, and much more.
“Informers had various motives including antisemitism, racism, a strong belief in Nazi ideology and governance, fear, personal gain, professional gain, and personal disagreements (e.g. informing the Gestapo that someone was a communist in response to a personal dislike or argument with that person). Most informers were aware of the consequences of their actions.”