Free news or censorship?
This blog is intended to deal with a great variety of topics, but here I find myself writing about Sweden, newspapers, and blogging—again:
Firstly, I would like to comment on the presence of Fria Nyhetere (“Free News”) on my blogroll: Why would I add a Swedish news-blog that I had (at the time) only visited twice onto the blogroll, while writing for an international audience?
The reason is simple: The abysmal quality and strong political/ideological distortion of Swedish news-reporting. This is not unique to Sweden, but it appears to be both stronger (on average) and more uniform in direction than in other countries. The most blatant problems include an exaggerated political correctness and the gender-feministic reporting discussed in an earlier entry. Generally, I often have the impression that there is an “official truth” on many subjects that is uncritically propagated in a manner indicating quasi-religious blindfolds (similar to those worn by e.g. creationists).
To make matters worse, the two papers (DN and SvD) that I regularly visit, have been known to delete user comments that are too far from this official truth. (Notwithstanding that the remaining comments are often in aggressive disagreement with the articles they are attached to—the people does not appear to be as easily led as some would like it) In particular, I have made a rare comment of my own to point out the lack of objectivity that the paper it self has—these have without exception been deleted.
Here Fria Nyheter plays an interesting role as a news medium which is not bound by political correctness and official truths, but instead often focuses on the spots that the normal newspapers gloss over. I do not always agree with or identify with what it says, but I feel that it could become a very valuable counter-weight to the newspapers—and would like to give a small help in doing so.
Secondly, I would propose an extension of the freedom of speech to, among other things, combat the selective deletion of comments. To paraphrase what I recently said in reply to a Swedish anti-censorship poste:
I would consider an extension of freedom of speech to a point where even a natural person or a business is not allowed to suppress opinions in a selective manner: If one has a comment function, one is only allowed to filter out statements that are illegal, are an abuse of the comment function (e.g. spam), or are offensive in their form (e.g. through personal attacks or bad language)—but not because thy are “unsuitable” or “politically incorrect”.
If this is not acceptable, one has to live without a comment function (and take the risk of losing readers or that Google comments [by which I meant “Sidewiki”] are used instead).
The details of this can be discussed, e.g. whether a natural person (say, an individual blogger) should underlie these restrictions, or whether the list of criteria that allow deletion is complete; however, by and large, I would see it a clear improvement on the current situation.
A case could be made that blogs should underlie the same restrictions: As I gather by hearsay, there are many bloggers (in particular those belonging to exactly the PC or gender-feministic factions, or those with a strong religious conviction) who delete too disagreeing comments as a matter of course—even be they comparatively polite and factual. Just like with some newspapers, it is dangerous to deviate in opinion, point out errors in reasoning and facts, or otherwise criticize the credo. (Unlike with newspapers, however, this issue is complex and has many other aspects.)