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Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Maintaining the Purity of Essence

Hey, kids! I've just found the coolest idea. It's from a fellow named Tom Coates, who has profound misunderstandings about the nature of gravity---but that's neither here nor there. He's been disturbed lately by unclean links coming into his site. See, some fiends from the stinking, tarry depths of HELL have been linking to him, and he's afraid that anyone coming from those sites will a) be possessed by demons, and b) believe that Coates is likewise one of the Damned. And Coates is a man of virtue who will have no commerce with the Spawn of the Man-Goat.

Fortunately, he is a Priest of the Web, and and can set charms that will redirect any sulfurous links to a purification page, where the offending visitors will be cleansed of blasphemy, and set upon the road to Right Thinking. That is, he's going to set up an Auto-protest Bot that will warn visitors that they are entering the Paths of Glory, and harangue them into shedding their evil ways.

This is so cool. It has long been my dream to seal myself off hermetically from any contact with those who do not fully share my lightest whim. Next job I get, I will immediately inform all my workmates of every detail of my worldview, and warn any who do not agree with me to keep their distance. I will also interrogate the woman who sells me stale cookies at the convenience store, just in case her religious/political/culinary beliefs do not match mine. (Stuffing! Potatoes!) If so I will shun her. (Wonder if I can get T-shirts made up, for the sake of convenience.)

Else, my brothers-in-virtue may see us together and shun my society, for fear of contamination. Yea, verily, first I will have to find some brothers-in-virtue who believe precisely as I do in every facet of life; such people have so far been strangely scarce.

Now, if I may be serious just for a moment (no! really! just a moment) I want to point out that what Coates suggests is not censorship. Oh, no. (Not, mind you, that I've seen anyone claiming that it is. I've only seen Coates's supporters objecting that it isn't.) Coates is only warning other people that the last site they have visited is not on the Rolls of the Blessed. (It's possible that he means to only put up a warning page, from which visitors can go ahead and link to his main site; but he hasn't made that clear.) That's more like...self-ghettoization. Known to some as Making a Silly Hysterical Ass Out of Yourself. Which is his right.

But some might have got the idea he was advocating censorship from this post, in which Coates says:

The escalation of warblogs is a disaster for development of personal publishing, and a crippling blow to the individual integrity and worth of weblogs and weblogging. This whole media - a media which was supposed to be about freedom of expression, allowing everyone to have a voice and a space to talk openly and honestly - has turned increasingly into the worst kind of soapbox punditry, witch-hunting and as a platform for violent warmongers and nationalists. And I'm afraid I feel partly responsible...

Well, thanks for inventing the Internet. Sorry our icky free speech has upset your tummy.