• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint

Censorship

The first topic I shall look at is that of censorship: The deliberate exclusion of material that would warrant inclusion on purely informative, artistic, or gameplay grounds. The libertarian viewpoint is that all censorship is bad; everyone has a right to free speech, whatever they want to say and to whomever they want to say it. The common-sense interpretation of this is that there are certain conditions where what is said can be profoundly damaging (thus the libel laws) or dangerous (shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater[2]), and in these situations free speech takes second place to some greater right. Otherwise, people can say what they want[3].

[2] This assumes that there isn't a fire in the theater, of course, or that the shout doesn't come from an actor delivering a line in character on the stage.

[3] A third point of view is that free speech is not an issue: A virtual world is a place of business, and therefore its proprietors can legitimately refuse entry to people whose business they don't (or no longer) want. Players like to refer to this as the “fascist” approach.

There are still exceptions, though. Elizabeth Reid argues in a paper[4] about the ethics she employed when undertaking her research into virtual worlds that she should perhaps have self-censored some of the details that were given to her, even though they were provided willingly by people in the knowledge and expectation that they would be published. Her reasons for this are that her discussion of JennyMUSH provoked such interest among social scientists that they descended on it en masse to study the community; needless to say, this put it under such pressure that it almost fell apart. Legally—and ethically, as far as the players were concerned—Reid had every right to publish the details she did. Nevertheless, in retrospect she wished she had made every quotation anonymous (even if that meant being unable to use some of them) because then people wouldn't have been able to find JennyMUSH so easily and their sheer number wouldn't therefore have impacted upon it.

[4] Elizabeth Reid, Informed Consent in the Study of Online Communities: A Reflection on the Effects of Computer-Mediated Social Research. New York, The Information Society Vol. 12 (2), Taylor & Francis, 1996. http://venus.soci.niu.edu/~jthomas/ethics/tis/go.libby.


PREVIEW

                                                                          

Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial


  
  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint