February 05, 2004

Ralph Nader, "Censorship", and 2000 Election

I've been posting the following comments in today's blog mini-debate, so here's my emergent blatherocracy citizen-commentary contribution, about whether Ralph Nader should run in the 2004 election, and if the reaction against it, per his NPR Interview is "censorship".

Note interesting analysis: Nader did it

Many straws go into breaking a camel's back. And each individual straw can say:

"Who me? Wasn't me. I'm just one straw! What sort of a big strong camel is this, if he can't deal with one more straw on his back? The solution is to get a better camel!"

Media smears such as the Al Gore "invented the Internet" fabrication were one straw. ChoicePoint was another straw. And Ralph Nader was yet another straw.

In collective action, how do you allocate responsibility for the end result?

It's certainly true that *some* Nader voters wouldn't be Gore voters. But I think it strains credibility to argue that overall, Nader voters would prefer Bush over Gore!


We really need a good framework for someone to make the argument, and have it evaluated *on the merits* of:

"If I advocate this position, I am afraid I will subjected to torrents of *undeserved abuse*, which I will be *unable* to counter to defend myself, and thus will personally suffer to such an extent that fear of this process has chilled and intimidated me from speaking out."

The above outcome may be 100.0% legal, First Amendment protected - but it's still worth examination.

There's some times this argument is reasonable, and some times it's not, and we need some way to be able to deal with it to separate the two.

The problem is this idea gets bogged down in "censorship" vs "only *government*" and "it's *my right* to criticize" and implicit accusations that the above is being falsely claimed for sympathy, and the discussion becomes a whirlpool of people flaming past each other :-(.

Note, I believe Ralph Nader's use of this argument here is *not* reasonable, and is a case of it being used for sympathy. By Seth Finkelstein | posted in politics | on February 05, 2004 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups

Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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If trying to convince Nader not to run is censorship, then a awful lot of Democrats are busy right now trying to censor every Presidential candidate other than the one they like.

Bader is mixing behavior with speech, probably deliberately. People are trying to get him to avoid a certain kind of behavior (running for office). They're not trying to censor what he's saying.

Posted by: billg at February 6, 2004 07:11 AM

I'd like to hear more about your ideas on what constitutes censorship and what doesn't. This seems like an area where there is much confusion. You're actually something of an expert in this area, right? What, in your view, is the defining characteristic of censorship?

Posted by: TP at February 6, 2004 04:56 PM

Nader may actually believe that making conditions worse for the majority is a valid political tactic.
See notnader.com

Posted by: Howie at March 2, 2004 09:01 AM