Censorship at PSN

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 14 10:48:00 MST 2001

Against my better judgement, an academic cyber-colleague of mine who
describes himself as 90 percent working class and 10 percent scholar,
encouraged me to subscribe to the Progressive Sociologists Network (PSN) at
Communications for a Sustainable Future (CSF), where PEN-L and other
academic lists are housed. CSF is poised in-between the kind of
rough-and-tumble, Hyde Park environment of Marxmail and the
straight-jacketed pedantry of H-Humanities lists.

After a day or so on the list, I was mystified to find posts from a certain
"Lauren" whose banality of thought was matched only by its lack of
erudition. I thought he was some bored lawyer or stockbroker somewhere with
time to kill. Here is a sample of his "thought":

Daily Mirror of London, sort of  a UK national enquirer, joins with Debka,
and perhaps Ridgeway's notion of vague threats to suggest that when
cornered, BL will commit suicide on television which will set off major
catastrophe's in London Paris and some USA city.

Consider the source(s), I'm more amused than worried, but if anything
happens, you read about it first on psn, :-)     If nothing happens, just
consider it another quatrain of Nostrabullcrap


It turns out that this is Lauren Langman, one of the three moderators, who
is some kind of Marxist mover-and-shaker at Loyola University. Ever since I
joined the list, I noticed that some of my posts make it to the list, while
others don't. I had no idea what was going on. Today I learned why:

A number of posts that are direct replies to a person  have not been
approved-this is not censorship-it is policy, it is only when a reply
includes a relevant analysis, new insights etc, that is is posted to psn.
So when you answer XXX to say, yes I agree with your point, or to ZZZ, to
say you are misguided/wrong, these are not usually posted.

Given the passions aroused by the current debates, the volume of posts has
exploded, and many folks feel burdened when, if on more than one list, log
on to see they have 100 messages each day.  Please send personal comments
to the person-thanks.

Lauren, moderator

The only problem is that they don't tell you when a post is turned down. My
cyber-colleague explained it this way:

"When a post comes in, ANY of the moderators can approve it or eliminate
it, often before the other moderators see it.  If eliminated, it goes to
some kind of "discard" pile. I think it is possible for moderators to look
up all the ones which have been eliminated that day, but in fact they
generally don't do that, since there are probably a hundred posts a day
like that, including advertisements for stocks and all other kinds of crap.
So the moderators mainly just look at the active ones. It does open the
door to censorship, of course, but there is always censorship."

One of these days an angry, politically conscious proletariat will hold
these Marxist professors to account and give them a punch in the nose. It's
enough to turn me into a Khmer Rouge.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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