As the New Year dawns, we see two companies in the communications business, and two situations raising the question, is it ethical or unethical to allow someone to use your product or service to broadcast harmful speech?
They took different paths, and both are being criticized. One company is ethical, the other is not.
The ethical company is WordPress.
A few days ago it took down one of its sites, Bare Naked Islam, after The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) complained that the site promoted violence against Muslims, which it surely did. When Muslims placed comments on the site, Bare Naked Islam published the IP and e-mail addresses of the commenters and suggested reprisals. Nonetheless, because it was CAIR’s complaint that triggered the removal, WordPress was criticized mightily in the conservative blogosphere for doing a Comedy Central—censoring legitimate free speech out of fear of Muslim violence. There is a very large distinction, however, between abandoning free speech in response to threats, as Comedy Central did in the infamous “South Park” incident, and responding responsibly to a legitimate complaint. Continue reading