WarriorSome of the comments on the recent “safe spaces” blog pointed out issues I skimmed over, one of which was about not ever having to hear anything you don’t want to hear. This is the issue where Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment come into play related to convention policies. This amendment is actually a bit more limited than what is popularly assumed. It only protects anyone from censorship from the government. School administrations that take funding from the government are required to comply, but private institutions are not. Still, most people expect that freedom of speech is a right granted by the government and that private institutions need to follow the same ethical standards.

So, as pointed out by RP, you’re at the local SFF convention and attending a panel on magazine covers. If you like sexy gals in skimpy, sexist costumes on your magazine covers and say so in the discussion, this may annoy some members of the audience. They claim to management that they feel threatened and harassed by your comments and you are ejected from the con. This, in effect, censors your viewpoint. It also costs you money in lost convention and travel fees, etc. You actually have no legal grounds for complaint. Unfortunately, the con is a private institution and management is legally unencumbered by the First Amendment, so you have no recourse about your treatment. However, they are in violation of what most people consider the ethical standard on allowing anyone to have their say on skimpy costumes, even if it is an unpopular viewpoint.

This kind of censorship is a form of fascism, a dangerous type of political intolerance preferred by police states and dictatorships. This means it is something we need to watch carefully.

RP also points out that trending convention policies may have no provision for appeal, which makes them even more fascist. This means all anyone has to do to get you thrown out is to complain. This violates the US standard for due process as outlined in the US Constitution, which says that everyone deserves a fair hearing.

Besides RP’s comment, I recently covered Ann Rice’s on fascist trends in book censorship. In this case, books with unpopular viewpoints are trashed on the Internet with poor reviews, threats against publishers, etc. You can look for the full blog in the archives.

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