Readers of the Online Opinion website and/or followers of some of the political blogs in Australia would probably have noticed some commentary about the withdrawal of advertising from those sites by a couple of corporations. This blog is part of that group of blogs which are collated under the label of The Domain, which is linked administratively to Online Opinion.
That means this blog has been caught up in that withdrawal of advertising. As (the very few) regular followers of this blog may have noted, I haven’t been posting very much here of late (there are a few reasons why that’s the case, which I shan’t go into), so this situation has negligible effect on the income I now get from it (which I basically use to cover site hosting costs and the like).
However, it has raised some interesting questions about freedom of speech versus the right for businesses to decide where they advertise. There has been a suggestion this withdrawal of advertising was in response to concerns voiced about a stock standard anti-gay article by a person from the so-called Australian Family Association (who clearly only support one type of family while demeaning all the other types). However, it seems it is more due to some even more obnoxious comments in response to the article.
In essence, it raises the long-standing dilemma for blogs of where to draw the line on moderating obnoxious or offensive comments. My view on where to draw this line has changed over the years, and I’m far more willing to delete comments which trespass into hate-speech or blatant vilification.
Having had a number of pieces published on Online Opinion over the years (about 36 of them, now that I’ve had a look), and engaged in responding to comments on many of them, it’s certainly the case that there is a cabal of persistent hatemongers who seem to descend (although ascend is probably more apt for sewer dwellers) any time there is a chance to vilify Muslims, refugees (or both), as well as migrants in general, or gays and lesbians. It can be distressing or aggravating to read or try to engage with such willful bile, and I can understand why some people don’t want to engage with such toxicity. Still, I’ve seen plenty worse on some mainstream media blogs and websites, and I haven’t noticed advertisers withdraw from those (although it’s possible some have).
Anyway, a potentially worthwhile debate about where to draw the line on such comments will probably end up just slotting into some well worn culture wars territory. Rather than opining further on it here, I’ll just try to focus on posting (and cross-posting) things a bit more often.
There are plenty of other pieces on it on various blogs I am stablemates with, which traverse a very diverse range of philosophical positions (as do the many different pieces published on Online Opinion, which is one of the strengths of the site, even if some of the commenters do besmirch things from time to time). You can read the varying views (including amongst the commenters) at:
- Larvatus Prodeo
- Skeptic Lawyer
- Club Troppo (and more at Club Troppo)
- Jennifer Marohasy
- En Passant, and of course also at
- Online Opinion