Also known as “Actions have Consequences, Dickweed”. Or perhaps “You Don’t Get to Take a Shit Then Expect Us to Clean It Up Because ZOMG FREE SPEECH”.
Originally posted on Whatever:
I’ve been watching with some interest the drama surrounding Gawker writer Adrian Chen revealing Reddit user/celeb/moderator/troll Violentacrez’s real life identity (Michael Brutsch), which among other things resulted in Brutsch losing his job, presumably because Brutsch’s employer was not 100% comfortable employing someone who spent his days moderating online forums with titles like “Chokeabitch” and bragged about the time his 19-year-old stepdaughter performed oral sex on him. It also resulted in Reddit globally banning links from Gawker (since rescinded, although forum moderators (“subredditors”) can choose to block links within their forums — and do), and various bannings due to discussion of the drama.
Wrapped up in all of this are various chest beatings about free speech and whether someone’s online anonymity is sacred, even if he is a creep, the culture of Reddit in particular and the Internet in general, and in a larger sense where the rights of one individual — say, a creepy middle-aged dude — begin to impinge on others — say, young women who don’t believe that merely being in public is an invitation to be sexually degraded. This is all interesting stuff, to be sure, and naturally I have a few thoughts on these topics. In no particular order:
1. The “free speech” aspect of this is largely nonsense. Reddit is not a public utility or a public square; it’s a privately owned space on the Internet. From a legal and (United States) constitutional point of view, people who post on Reddit have no “free speech” privileges; they have what speech privileges Reddit itself chooses to provide them, and to tolerate. Reddit chooses to tolerate creepiness and general obnoxiousness for reasons of its own, in other words, and not because there’s a legal or constitutional reason for it.