Regular readers know, as I have commented before, that this site, salon.glenrose.net doesn't post every single entry anyone chooses to make. When a post is made by anyone (or a spammer robot), all anonymous (ie, non registered members) posts are in a holding queue waiting to be approved or not, and even if one is a member, until a member is approved to automatically post, even those posts are in a *moderated* state.
I"m going, as I talk about this, to compare this site, which is privately owned and managed by me, albeit with public posts, to a home. Following are posts that are usually never approved and deleted without comment.
In the first category of moderated posts are spammers, who post crap regularly. Those posts are deleted regularly and sometimes the IP is banned. Merely because a spammer comes to this privately-owned site and posts something doesn't mean that his/hers/its freedom of speech in this country should guarantee that it be seen. We have no requirement that we automatically put up spam posts *just because*. It would be like allowing people covered with mud to come in and shout obscenities in the living room over and over, where all the neighbors could hear as well.
In the second category are those who want to be able to come and insult or do personal attacks against the posters on the site. Let's compare that to inviting someone to come into the living room where there are others gathered having a conversation and that one dumps manure on the floor, wants to insult all the conversing members, and hit them with a stick. Perhaps the newest person in the room would like everyone to stop talking about what they're talking about and refuses to talk about the general topic. In anyone's home, unless the person living there was a masochist, that person would be shown to the door as being a rude and disruptive person and the next time he or she tried to come in, would not be allowed (or would be ignored while talking on the porch.
Would that stop the wanna-be disruptive person from walking down the street to his or her own house and saying what he/she wanted? Of course not, because that person has freedom of speech to say what he or she wants on either public property or in private areas where allowed. Could that person go yell "Fire" in a crowded place simply because he believed he could say what he wants? Nope.
Somervell County Salon has very clear rules about posting. One of the disclaimers is right underneath where a comment is posted.
New poster comments are moderated, meaning they won't show up until approved... or not. Be patient-we have lives outside this blog, so it might take awhile You want to be rude? totally stupid? inappropriate? Flame war baiter? Your post may be deleted. Spammers or people posting pretend interest comments but really wanting to hawk their latest book or sell stuff or govt propaganda flacks won't see their posts published. Comments do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the site owner.
If you have a problem with logging in or registering, please tell us right away. we love your comments. Oh, except spammers More on commenting
At the link there is an explicit paragraph which says
Speech is free but Somervell County Salon is moderated. Somervell County Salon is like a fun, privately-owned club where people come to discuss things. It is online news and a BLOG, meaning that it reflects in a basic way the opinions of the front page posters who post on this site. We like you coming here to read and want to hear your comments, but it's also our property. You don't have to agree with us, but we think you should have to reply with some modicum of logic and reasoning. You can't come in here and trash it. You also can't come in here and whine about your free speech rights after dumping garbage on the floor. You can say anything you want on your own blog, where you can also dump your garbage. Not here. And if you don't like your post being deleted, we aren't necessarily going to get into an argument with you about why we did it-your comment will likely be removed without reply from us.
In other words, I have a site and on it we, the posters, have freedom of speech to speak our opinions.We know we all aren't going to agree with each other, and that's fine. We are not required to okay posts that want to slam the site, the owner, or the posters. That certainly doesn't prevent the one who wants to do that from saying his or her piece in other venues. In that regard, I agree with Chris Pirillo
I’ve seen this type of discussion come up many times within my community, and in others. When someone breaks a site rule and is “reprimanded” for it, they will often scream about their Freedom of Speech, guaranteed by the United States Constitution. I always get a chuckle out of this. You see, when you join a privately-owned site and agree to abide by their rules, there is no Freedom of Speech. The owners and administrators of said service are well within their rights to tell you what you can – and cannot – discuss on their little corner of the Web. If you don’t like it… well… no one is forcing you to stay there as a member.
and this from Wizbang
With regard to speech as a right, privilege or condition of permission, when a person enters private property, they are bound by the rights of the property owner. This is neither new nor unreasonable. The State of Texas, for example, used to enforce a rule that anyone entering the Alamo must remove their hat or head-covering as a sign of respect to the fallen heroes of the Alamo (heroes of Texas, by the way); I don't know whether they still do that but that rule is an example of how an entity in control of property can enforce rules of conduct. In fact, the maxim trotted out by exasperated parents-of-teens, 'my house my rules' is simply an extension of that same concept. A property owner may control behavior, bar or allow admittance according to his personal will and right to free association, or expel undesirables as he finds necessary (hence the use of bouncers and doormen as employees at certain entertainment establishments). Weblogs are by definition private property, as they have clearly been created by a specific entity and control of the website belongs to that entity, whether an individual person or a group of people engaged in an enterprise. Like a brick-and-mortar establishment, the blog may impose restrictions on access or participation, such as registration for comments or membership requirements to read all or some of the material published on the website....
The right to free speech is not, however, linked to participation in a given website. In addition to the fact that blogs are not created or supported by government institutions and therefore cannot be morally connected to Constitutional rights, and the fact that blogs are private property and therefore the rules under which they operate are part of any blog's identity, there remains the fact that anyone who not accepted at a given blog is welcome to join another, or simply write what they wish in their own blog. It is, quite literally, impossible to prevent someone from speaking their mind and making their opinion known. It is merely possible to control comments at one site. The question of rights is, at best, merely one more attempt by trolls to divert discussion from the site's original focus.
Earlier I discussed the importance of intent. When discussing rights, it is important to recognize that in any debate the rights of both sides are valid to the extent that they focus on the topic or issue. Personal attacks and attempts to derail the topic are, in essence, admissions of failure, and therefore it may reasonably be said that troll behavior demonstrates that the offender has abandoned the discussion and, in the same way that a drunk is ejected from a bar for everyone's benefit and well-being, a troll may be expelled from a discussion, either by having his ill-chosen comments deleted, or by other measures, up to and including banishment from the site. Once intent to subvert or deface the site is demonstrated, the offender has demonstrated intent which is incompatible with participation, even if no specific rule prohibiting such behavior has been published.
If, somehow, this site stopped others from being able to freely express themselves elsewhere, then the *freedom of speech* argument would be a valid one. That is not the case.
And that is why sometimes when a person posts with personal attacks his or her post is deleted without comment. This post is also not an invitation for an argument.