“People go berserk when you threaten their right to have their opinions published on a commercial website, as often as they choose, without actually being hired or submitting to any editorial oversight. It’s censorship! It’s groupthink! It’s a slippery slope to an echo chamber! Free speech must be protected!
Oh, please. These are arguments serious people need not entertain, when we’re talking about the ability to post comments on a privately owned website, as opposed to the ability to criticize one’s government without loss of life or liberty. Banning comments—or moderating with an iron fist—is not squelching honest and open debate in the public sphere, anymore than refusing to publish every letter to the editor, unedited, in a print publication. Telling people to take their bullshit to Reddit is not a harbinger of Orwellian dystopia.
You know who wants you to think it is? Trolls. Haters. The kind of people who find it hilarious to post violent pornographic images on a website run by women, just because it is run by women. These people aren’t concerned about the openness of public discourse, but about their own ability to get attention. If they’re forced to publish only on their own blogs and Twitter feeds, or on sites with less civilized rules for discourse, they’ll have no audience, because a very limited number of people will actually want to read the opinions of dudes who think harassment equals humor, or that every citizen deserves to waltz into a stranger’s workplace and give her hell for doing her job, every day.
I’ll go to the mat for the First Amendment, but as far as comments on private websites are concerned, I say squelch ‘em all. The right to speak your mind does not include the right to parasitically attach yourself to a high-traffic website in order to reach an audience you could never earn on your own.”