Welcome to this week’s editorial, What is freedom of speech? By one definition it is “ the power or right to express one's opinions without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty. “
The Australian Attorney General advises that “The right to freedom of expression extends to any medium, including written and oral communications, the media, public protest, broadcasting, artistic works and commercial advertising. The right is not absolute. It carries with it special responsibilities, and may be restricted on several grounds.” But surely there must be a line that can be drawn where someone gives up that right, that freedom of expression and the decision as to where that line should be rests with those responsible for the publication of that opinion. Surely if a letter to the editor of a local paper is libellous, defamatory, blasphemous, seditious or obscene it should not be published. Fortunately newspapers have gate keepers to ensure these community expectations are applied. With social media now being the major ’news source’ for many who now rely on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Whats App there comes the need for moderation of the posts made and the comments that are added. If left unchecked, as has been the case, these platforms are allowed to run rampant with very few rules applied and very few gatekeepers. Until Christchurch. Now things are changing. If you put up a post you are held responsible for it and for any consequence from it. Many responsible publishers are now choosing to moderate all comments for approval prior to publication . The Beagle moderates all comments on Facebook and on its website. The comments that are NOT published are those that breach, in our opinion, social mores. Along with the standards we also monitor Trolling which is defined as “creating discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community.” Basically, a social media Troll is someone who purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users.
Say NO to TROLLS
This week The Beagle has been called out for denying the rights of Freedom of Speech to a Troll. While I have received some despicable, vile and bilious messages from some very potty-mouth Troll supporters calling me all many of things I thank all of The Beagle readers and commenters who have countered with their messages of support. The Troll is now officially blocked and our online community is a nicer place for it.