editing and censoring, cont. (55)

Sun, 26 Mar 89 17:47:51 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 769. Sunday, 26 Mar 1989.

Date: Sat, 25 Mar 89 21:21:06 EST
From: amsler@flash.bellcore.com (Robert A Amsler)
Subject: Re: Subsets of Humanists

[The following was a prive message to me that I am publishing with
permission. Bob Amsler has stated very clearly something I have been
attempting to get across, though with less success. We had been
discussing possible subdivisions of Humanist and the creation of new
groups; I had commented that matters of religion and politics in the
humanities could well form one or more new groups. --W.M.]

There are OTHER lists for those things, so I see no point in making
that subdivision. The LIST-OF-LISTS kept at SRI-NIC lists more than
enough other lists and it doesn't even deal with the netnews junk.

You are reacting as though Humanist were the only avenue for
communications open to these people. I think Humanist is basically
operated because someone, the moderator, wants to keep it operating.
As such, it is just like a journal. If one submits articles
not relevant to a journal, that journal won't print them. It may
suggest other appropriate journals that would consider them.
`relevant' to the journal is really just a matter for the moderator
(journal editor) and, now the committee (journal editorial board)
to decide.

The point of electronic communication is that we `can' all become
moderators of mailing lists, if the spirit moves us. This differs
from the past in which the resources to do so were prohibitatively
expensive. The spirit to do so, however, doesn't possess too many.
It is a lot of work and when someone is doing a good job of it,
others will be satisfied. If there are legions of dissatisfied
members of the community, a new moderator for a new list will
come about. (The evidence from the moderated lists I've seen is
that very often splitting them is in reality just a method of
discarding some of the material--since the off-shoot list rarely

So... in summary. Why all this guilt? You are NOT preventing
communication by selecting material, there is no censorship
in an information era in which everyone can be the editor of
their own electronic publication.

[By the way, I deny the guilt in this particular case, though I am a
great respecter of guilt as a tool for getting things done in the
imperfect world we all inhabit. My concern, again, is to help forge a
community and assist it to some self-understanding. --W.M.]