In Support of Censorship

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 22:45:00 -0500 wrote:
> oops. I have to leave any list that censors based on subject, sorry. It's a
> free-spirit thing.
> Maybe I will rejoin again when it's uncensored ( two weeks? ), let me know.
> bye,
> Queen or Art and Love,

One of the fundamental arguments of Libertarianism is that private enterprise can do anything the government can, and do it better and without coercion. This includes censorship, which serves the useful function of filtration, and is unnecessary as a government function only because private enterprise can produce the same results. There is nothing whatsoever un-Libertarian about a moderated list. It is simply a case of private property; if you come into my house and be loud and boring, I'll ask you to leave.

Nor yet is private censorship a crime against freedom, or free spirits. Censoring a particular *point of view* would probably get me to resign from the Extropian list. Censoring an entire subject on the grounds that it has ceased to be interesting is quite a different matter. I feel that filtering a list so as to retain only the fun, interesting, important, and intelligent posts is a good thing. Just as the freedom to express all viewpoints is the essence of liberty, so too the intelligence to express them carefully and well is the essence of rationality. This is the Extropian list, run on the Extropian Institute's private property, and one of the tolerable and wise uses of their legal right to control everything is to prevent off-topic posts. If it's not in the charter, and enough of the list membership doesn't want to hear it, then it's basically spam.

I do feel that a still better course would have been to announce that henceforth any *uninteresting* posts on the topic of g*ns would be censored, after which anyone could walk into the fire if they wanted to. But banning the subject for only two weeks will serve just as well in preventing the list from being crippled by a hole in the noosphere.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way