Thursday, November 18, 2010
Censorship on Castanet
Castanet is a popular forum in Kelowna run by a local newspaper. I found it when I noticed people were coming to my web site from links people posted in that forum. It appears that many people in Kelowna are concerned about the gang situation there.
I joined the forum and after several threads discussing gangs started to name names those threads were deleted. Then I was told that no discussions about gangs were allowed at all. I was somewhat shocked as that kind of blatant censorship is somewhat surprising coming from a newspaper where one would think they would report crime not hide it.
True many papers go for the sensationalism just to sell papers and true many papers go to court facing legal threats for exercising their Charter right to free speech. Yet some smaller papers or Internet servers would just rather avoid court altogether then fight for their right to free speech.
The Vancouver Sun and the Vancouver Province have both gone to court to request court gag orders be lifted and have fought valiantly to defend free speech.
Recently someone posted a thread on Castanet about gangs and I was somewhat interested in seeing how long the thread would last. It went on for four pages talking indirectly in a humorous manner of how groups of deer could be considered a gang as they toyed with the topic. Once again I noticed the thread because someone had linked to my web site from it and traffic was coming to my web site from the link.
So I weighed in and joined the discussion. Someone had mentioned the gang problem in Winnipeg and I quoted that post and posted a link to a news article about how the Hells Angels were collecting dues from the Zig Zag crew who sold crack in Winnipeg. Shortly thereafter the thread was deleted.
Someone sent me a PM through E-mail and I wasn't able to respond because their PM function was disabled. So when I posted a thread about local snow with my e-mail address for the person to communicate with me directly, that thread was also deleted. Shocking.
The amount of censorship that exists on the Internet is somewhat frightening. Obviously Castanet owns their own forum and set their own rules. They can censor anything they want. Often news agencies do this to promote a particular political slant such as Fox News or Conrad Black's acquisition of news outlets. Nevertheless for the general public that kind of censorship is surprising given the false impression we had of media outlets being non biased that simply report the news.
I realize that someone has been threatening Castanet with legal action. Perhaps they are also rightfully afraid for their personal safety. Clearly we can see why they would cave in to censorship. No one wants to end up shot like the Montreal reporter who reported on the Quebec biker war.
Yet it is difficult for any news outlet to maintain any sort of credibility whatsoever when they ban public safety issues that link to news reports. Linking is not defamation so they surely aren't afraid of being sued for slander. That's what makes me wonder if they are also afraid for their personal safety since people like Geoff and Britney are turning up dead or missing.
Not being allowed to discuss crime and public safely seems like some kind of George Orwell fiction. It doesn't seem real. Yet we are clearly witnessing it. We are told free speech is one of the things that makes North America great. Yet free speech is not only being gradually removed from North America, any discussion about the removal of that charter right is being carefully deleted with absolutely no recourse whatsoever.
Youtube has a recourse if someone makes a false claim. You can file a counter claim and go to court to settle the matter. Forumer has no such recourse. You are guilty unil proven innocent and given no opportunity to prove your innocence through due process. Now that is scary.