Sunday, April 24, 2005

Implicit and explicit censorship in academia

Printculture reports on a talk by Jodi Dean, wherein Dean spoke about her thoughts as an academic who deleted some white supremacist comments on her blog:

It is of course a fairly extraordinary gesture to have to actively delete someone else's writing and ideas, one caught up in a history of state-sponsored censorship and violence that left academics generally like to imagine themselves as opposed to. And so the lesson here, as Dean pointed out on Friday evening, is twofold:

  1. Your sense that you don't do things like silence people is, if you're a teacher, sustained by an immense institutional network that silences certain kind of people for you; and,
  2. That may not be a bad thing. Or at least, it is fairly clear that without such silencing whatever discourse does happen in academia would not exist as such.

I'd go even further. To me, it seems obvious that all discourse (and not merely the academic kind) depends on the implicit silencing of some speech acts. We should be careful to consider which speech gets silenced, and how; but we shouldn't feel particularly guilty about the mere existence of some silencing.

Somewhat related essay by the ever-fantastic Clay Shirky: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy.

1 comment:

  1. for what it's worth the tu quoque piece is what earned your site a tab of its own. the blog roll is good too. perhaps its time for the major "good fight" outlets to merge into a single site to save them copying (and us skipping) all the stuff we just read on the others.