Opinion: Deleting a Comment Is Not Censorship, It's Courtesy

Walter Rhein

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There is too much entitlement in American society these days. One of the things that have been a topic of discussion lately is what constitutes censorship. Another term that’s thrown about is "cancel culture."

I work for a living, so I don’t have time to go through all the comments that my articles generate. Why should I? I have been writing long enough to know that many of the comments come from bots rather than real human beings. These are fake comments that are maliciously deployed to spread misinformation.

I don’t read every comment, but sometimes the comments are useful for providing insight into what readers need to be educated about. Unfortunately, many Americans have a low level of education. Many Americans clutch on to disproven ideas. This hurts our society when people cast their votes based on these ideas.

My articles get a certain amount of visibility because I’ve put in the work and built an audience. The people who leave comments haven’t put in the work. They haven’t built an audience. Essentially, they’re attempting to steal my labor by adding their comment to my work.

Deleting those comments isn’t an act of censorship. Anyone who writes a comment is free to share their beliefs on their platform. They can build their audience. All I’m doing is saying that they aren’t allowed to force their beliefs onto my audience.

That’s not censorship, that’s moderation.

I don’t have much tolerance for people who post death threats and insults. However, sometimes I’ll leave those comments just to prove a point. Those comments are clear proof of some of the criticisms I have against various communities.

I think it’s comical how sometimes I will delete a comment and the author protests. “Why did you delete my comment?”

Instead of protesting, I suggest that these writers should engage in self-reflection. I shouldn’t have to answer the question of why I deleted a comment. It should be obvious to the author.

Everyone can concede that the United States of America is divided. That can be seen by the fact that people don’t interact with internet articles with respect. Instead of engaging ideas, many readers leave insults and threats. Some of them provide misinformation.

Many comments are anonymous. That means you know nothing about the author. You don’t know their level of education. You don’t know if they have a following. You don’t know if they have a job. You don’t know their criminal record. You don’t know anything about them.

As a writer with a following, I feel no obligation to provide visibility to somebody who wants to insult me or spread misinformation with an anonymous comment. That person can do the work, build his or her following, and write anything he or she wants.

It's not my job to do that work for them.

It’s ridiculous to complain when an established writer refuses to propagate your flawed ideas. If you can’t build your following, maybe it’s because nobody wants to hear what you have to say.

Nobody has to agree with me. However, one of the ways we can achieve a more unified society is to show proper respect for differing viewpoints.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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