This post does not exist: Impossible discussion of censored speech

Jim Harper, in an attempt to plug all the holes in his argument that AT&T’s censorship of seven or eight bands is unimportant makes the interesting discovery that it is impossible to ever discuss censored speech. You see, if we are talking about it, it obviously hasn’t been censored(!?) How can I argue with such impeccable logic?

“Censorship” is an interesting concept. I think it’s most concerning when it’s successful – that is, when it deprives people of information they would otherwise get. It’s most concerning when a government censors to prevent criticism of itself – and successfully so.

It’s pretty far down the list of concerns – and nearly lacking the concerning qualities of “censorship” when a corporation deletes information unsuccessfully (in terms of preventing the information from getting through).

That said, I agree with Doug that competition among media would dissipate this kind of “censorship.” (And we’ve arrived back where ‘net neutrality regulation always takes us – competition!)

I share Jim Harper’s preference for market-based solutions to problems, as I have noted to my reply to BGG on my previous post on this issue:

enigmafoundry Says:
August 18th, 2007 at 1:20 pm e

I’m just wondering about ways that such behavior could be self-regulated within the market rather than having government involved. [excerpt from BGG comment]

That is entirely my preference also, and they way to do that is to have a large and vibrant market, filled with many players. A low barrier to entry helps greatly–that’s why if a newspaper editor got out of touch, another one would step in and the market would solve the problem.

With certain kinds of infrastructure–internet service appears to be one–there are very few players–In Sain Louis, for example, if you get DSL you get it from AT&T. Cable is not available in all areas. Although you may think you have another provider–I had earthlink for a while–the server was an SBC (now AT&T) server.

So the case for govt intervention is made when there is:
1. evidence of harm, AND
2. there is no convincing market-based mechanicism for the problem to be reduced or eliminated.

That govt intervention should be as simple and straightforward as possible, passing the least drastic means test.

So, I have set out clear rationale for when govt intervention is called for, that seeks to maintain personal liberties while minimizing and simplifying government intervention.

We also need to acknowledge the fact that the market for high speed ISP’s is dominated by just a few players, with many markets having only one DSL provider, for residential customers.  There is also a high barrier to entry to this market.  These are all facts that the majority of posters at TLF are apparently unaware of.

The other item is not that Jim’s threshold for when censorship is successful–that is, it is apparently not successful censorship when the information ends up “getting through” is unreasonably high. This is because free speech delayed is free speech denied. In other words, it is the function of free speech to act as an agent of change in society, and that change is stymied to the extent that free speech is delayed.

So, my question to Jim Harper: In the area of free speech and censorship, is there anything that AT&T could do that would justify government regulation? If so, please describe.

This post does not exist: Impossible discussion of censored speech

One thought on “This post does not exist: Impossible discussion of censored speech

  1. Nts says:

    Also, I guess my question would have to be that wasn’t At&t, by regulating itself without the presence of net neutrality regulations more of an argument for market based solutions than an argument for regulations? I do some work with HOTI and this looks to me that this really isn’t an example of net neutrality whatsoever if its not an ISP doing it at all and therefore contrary to that position.

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