For those with enough crust behind their ears, it's easy to recall the days before the internet; you read the paper and then you either penned a letter to the editor of your local rag, or you kept quiet.
You can bet that the former 'free press', now better known as the main stream (scream) media, would prefer to have it that way still. They talk, you read and that's where it ends. But a funny thing happened... called 'blogs' and suddenly, the big boys were challenged with a concept so alien that it took them nearly a decade to hijack it and begin shutting the public voice down... again.
The web... thoseÂ websitesÂ thereon, to be precise, are not subject to whatever rights you may be accustomed to. Yes, they may profit from the right of free speech, but because the internet is 99.9 percent private property, there is no law that mandates that they respect YOUR right to speak freely. And this is how it should be because they pay for that space.
The problem creeps in when it becomes so painfully obvious that we are headed right back to where we were before the web came around; no voice for the average person in the privately owned/public common.
The Killing of Comments
Few people could have missed the fact that Fox News recently shut down ALL comments on their site. This was something of a shock because as a conservative news outlet, one would think that freedom to speak would be big on their agenda. But... they were invaded, en masse, by their political opposites and some reports suggest that this was done to do exactly what it did; shut off the fuel pump.
Immediately following the shutdown of comments on Fox News, the bickering picked back up over on MSNBC (now NBC News). So, if there was a liberal effort to disrupt the conservative exchange at Fox... it backfired. But chances are that it had more to do with the misbehavior of individuals who took advantage of their shallow anonymity toÂ wreakÂ havoc on honest folks from both sides.
As it Stands Now
The current status of public comments is in dire question. Several main-scream articles have spoken to how unfettered access to open commenting was dying... and if you take a single second to think about who would be happy about that kind of outcome, it would not be your favorite political enemy... but that so called 'free press' that has longed for re-dominanceÂ over the web and the written word since the first blog ever appeared.
For the point of offering our opinion, we will now offer up the worst and the best places to comment to news and current events...
The Worst -
The Daily Mail (UK) - The Daily Mail has a very wonderfully dynamic website full of news that covers almost every topic. The problem is offering an opinion in reply. Once you get it ready to submit, you have to make sure two (2) boxes are checked before clicking and then, the next page has another (1) box and a captcha-type challenge.
But it doesn't end there. You can choose your words as carefully as you can but... for some reason, some don't show up for days and many never at all. If they have some standard, it has to be based on ancient Greek morality and written in Sumerian that has to then be reviewed by a naked cow-monkey sitting on a patch of clover in Arizona. It really is bad.
The Huffington Post - Just as Fox News was (and still is) mainly geared to the conservatives, Huffington is aimed at liberals. But even if you dislike politics, they do have a wide variety of other, seemingly non-polarized subject matter and if you want to speak to them, you shouldn't have anything to fear, right... I mean, left?
Anyway, to be honest, the censorship here is not as bad as it used to be but you still can't expect that maturity and well-spoken texts willÂ guaranteeÂ a publication of your thoughts. These guys are unfathomable at times and if your comments never show, you might as well complain to your keyboard... it might actually care.
The Best -
As odd as it may seem, the two best places to comment still fall under the MSM header...
USA Today - USA Today is as close as one can get to a balanced publication. I really don't care for the notion of fair or balanced because truth is never either of those. But these guys do appear to try and appeal to all and their comments are hardly ever squelched.
Christian Science Monitor - The CSM is not anywhere close to what the name implies. In fact, if you are a dedicated Christian and go there looking for something that rubs your sense of faith comfortably... you'll be horribly disappointed. This is mostly a liberal-leaning site but... they don't play favorites when it comes to commenting.
Saving Your Voice
There are a lot of quarters that really resent like hell that the public ever got a chance to use this medium to speak. Some are in government... and it covers both parties. Some are in the private sector, too and while they both claim the right to express their positions, they have no wish to grant you the same freedom they expect.
... thanks to Gather.com for allowing us this space and the liberty to vent. We may not always agree with each other but at least, we have the chance to speak our piece and maybe... just maybe, make a new friend along the way.