To describe the present media landscape concerning Iran as one of competing news stories would not be entirely accurate – What the public is witnessing is a widespread and well-funded information war in the guise of journalism, often backed by numerous moneyed special interest groups working behind the scenes to ensure that content they funded and fed to media outlets cannot be traced back to them in order to maintain the illusion of objective and accurate reporting. That is why it is exceedingly important to ensure that participants in this website have equal access and equally applied editorial rules that provide little wiggle-room for editorial discretion in order to allow the broadest possible amount of expression in an environment where participants are not made to feel that content they contribute may vanish into thin air in the middle of the night. Ideally, a moderator should also be disinterested in the subject matter and narrowly work to ensure a climate free from acts of intimidation and reprisal, whether through threats of violence or selective editorial censorship of comments, articles, and blogs. Those types of activities, regrettably, have been prevalent on this website. A site’s credibility is not simply evaluated by the people it has allowed to participate on the site, but by the people and content it has excluded. It is a basic point: People usually do not censor, edit, or ban speech they agree with – It is precisely the sort of speech that is unpopular, challenging, controversial, or is opposed by moneyed interests that gets banned.
FREE SPEECH AND FREE PRESS INCLUDES FAR BROADER MORAL NOTIONS THAN THIS WEBSITE HAS PERMITTED:
"[A] function of free speech …is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea.” Terminello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 4 (1949).
“[I]t has always seemed preferable in the normal operation of our democratic society to put up with a considerable amount of bad speech in public places from demagogues and psychopaths rather than undertake to regulate the content of speech and determine which slogans and doctrines will be allowed the freedom of the market place.” People v. Huss 241 Cal. App. 2d 361, 368 (1996).
Where in the name of editorial moderation a website selectively censors comments and articles the information on that site becomes a form of propaganda. The totality of the content then becomes a compilation of propaganda.
Propaganda is a form of controlled communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by selectively providing information or restricting the public’s ability to contest ideas freely and in their own words.
After seventeen years of operating under editorial policies lacking in transparency, equal application, and contrary to the moral norms guiding free speech and free press, this site has along way to go to win back public trust. It is vital that this site’s administration speak up and take the issues head-on. We stand ready to assist in that process should the site do the right thing and elevate and better its standards.
NOTE TO ADMINISTRATORS:
CIM’s next contribution may be on profane speech including use of the “F-word.” Including reproducing that word within the body of the article for purposes of discussing the parameters of free speech and press. If there are any concerns about that topic, or use of the F-word, please let us know in advance. Thank you.
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