AOL Continues Total Censorship Comments Policy
June 20, 2010, 02:20 AM
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While Weighing How to Come Up with a System that Appears Not to Censor, in Order to Delude Readers into Thinking that Posted Comments are Representative

For several months now, AOL News has shut down all commenting on its stories. In lieu of permitting comments, the ISP has provided the following statement:

New Comments System on the Way Valued AOL News readers, we have heard your requests for a commenting area that supports lively discourse — including a wide range of opinion across the political spectrum — but does not tolerate vulgarity and hate-mongering. Although it is taking some time, AOL is working hard to reconfigure the system so that it is a top-notch experience for all visitors to the site. In the meantime, Facebook users can visit AOL News on Facebook to join the conversations there. Please also continue to send us your thoughts via our feedback page.
”… [A] commenting area that supports lively discourse — including a wide range of opinion across the political spectrum — but does not tolerate vulgarity and hate-mongering” is an Orwellian oxymoron. Googling under the phrase, ”Valued AOL News readers, we have heard your requests for a commenting area that supports lively discourse,” returned 39,500 hits… but no ”lively discourse,” and it never will.

For a possible model of the sort of ”lively discourse” AOL has in mind, consider the policy now in place at one of AOL News’ Web sites, Politics Daily.

Our New Approach to Comments In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers — a ”civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss — we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.
”Civilogue” derives from ”civility,” which sounds great, but is used by the politically correct as a code phrase for their practice of silencing people with whose opinions they disagree. And true to form, Jeffrey Weiss turns sophistic somersaults trying to con readers into believing that censorship isn’t censorship.

How do I eviscerate one of AOL’s hacks, without being charged with making a ”personal attack”? I don’t. It’s not possible. For an example, check out a new column misrepresenting, for the 10,000th time, Arizona’s new law, SB1070. The trouble starts with the title: How Arizona Got Its Out-There New Immigration Law.

Since SB 1070 is a watered down version of a 70-year-old federal immigration statute, the title is utterly misleading. How America Got Its Out-There, 70-Year-Old Immigration Law would be more like it, but author Earl Pomerantz doesn’t want readers to know about the federal law. And How Arizona Got Its Watered-Down, New Immigration Law would likewise obliterate Pomerantz’ argument. And the article goes downhill from there.

AOL’s censors are bound to deem my criticisms showing up one of their sweatshop propagandists as either a moron or a liar as ”personal attacks” and ”not productive additions to the conversation.” Commenting thus means being forced to choose between wasting my time researching, writing, and re-writing a response that no one but the house censors will ever read, or watering down my response so much that it is self-defeating.

The folks at AOL News are media executives and editors of their age: They are incompetent businessmen (also here), they stuff readers with moron fodder, and they strangle freedom of speech.

AOL News’ Top Censors

Tim Armstrong, AOL president & CEO AOL Inc 770 Broadway 4th Floor New York, NY 10003 Phone: (212) 652-6400

Mike Nizza, acting editor-in-chief

Claire Robinson, managing editor