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Friday, December 18, 2015

Demanding censorship proves Wanzer unfit for office

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

It is disturbing to see politicians advocating censorship of ideas they dislike. It raises serious questions about their overall mentality and their respect for their constituents' basic rights. This is why it is unfortunate that MCCSC School Board member Sue Wanzer shared an article on Facebook demanding that Donald Trump's Facebook page be removed, and then doubled down on her demand for censorship in the comments below.

(Why this showed up in my news feed, given I am not "friends" with her on Facebook, is beyond me.)

Demanding censorship is exactly the kind of hysterical overreaction that only serves to help Trump. It creates a backlash. It will make Trump's supporters dig in and support him more. Even reasonable criticism of Trump has served to harden and deepen the resolve of Trump's supporters, so an unreasonable demand certainly will help him. Demanding censorship may even drive some people to Trump.

I find Donald Trump to be a detestable person, and I vehemently oppose him as a candidate. I will not vote for him if he is the Republican nominee. Obviously, provoking greater support for Trump is not something I want to see happen.

Taking down Trump's Facebook page is a terrible idea. It would be unprecedented for Facebook to remove a Presidential front-runner's Facebook page, and would set a precedent for Facebook to remove more and more political content that people find objectionable. What if the nightmare scenario comes true and Trump is elected President? (This is a horrible thought, to be sure.) Will the White House page on Facebook be blocked too?

Yes, Facebook is a private company and can allow or not allow anything they want. Facebook would be well within their rights to remove Trump's page. I certainly have no problem with Facebook (or any other interactive content provider) enforcing their Terms of Service against content that violates that agreement. But this goes far beyond enforcing a TOS agreement - this would be censorship of the most popular candidate for one of the two major political parties. Given polling data, Trump has millions of supporters. This is the classic "slippery slope."

Finally, the fact that Wanzer's reaction to Trump's foolishness is to demand censorship shows a totalitarian streak that disqualifies her from being re-elected to the MCCSC School Board. This is would be a concern for any office. It is especially worrisome given Wanzer's position as a MCCSC School Board member, because academic freedom and education depend on the free exchange of ideas. What textbooks would Wanzer favor censoring, if any?

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