Jeff’s latest blog post serves as a landmark. A quote from that post is relevant as an opening to mine: “Information control isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a confession of weakness“. It’s profound. It reaches well beyond the small world of Scientology. It captures all venues of human interrelations, politics, Wikileaks. It is also relevant to The Scientology Forum – the forum I erected a year ago and since some months has been run by Claire.
One of the premises when I put up the forum was to make it a place where Scientologist could feel safe when discussing Scientology – safe from exposure to Scientology’s confidential upper level material. Although there is plenty of evidence that exposure to such material is not dangerous, the belief that it may harm you could serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy, a reverse placebo. In any case, the forum was set up so that posts be moderated before they appeared. Very, very few posts have been deleted, but some have been modified to keep within the Rules of Conduct.
At times the forum has been an interesting place for real debates and where new ideas have emerged, giving birth even to a whole now branch of philosophy, the KHTK. But the control of information by what Hubbard calls “inspection before the fact”, i.e. screening has strangled the flow of information to a mere trickle. The moderation introduces a lag in the communication and that in itself is detrimental to lively exchange of ideas.
I asked the forum if it is time to reconsider the moderation policy.
Although I would want to see a civilized forum for discussion of Scientology (I see no reason to change the ROCs), the moderation takes the life out of a forum like that – and there are other examples that points to the same.
The current affairs with WikiLeaks has highlighted the need for openness even better. Because WikiLeaks is good – for transparency, for democracy. Just like Wikipedia is good and the Internet itself is good. Sure, both the Internet and Wikipedia had gotten its share of criticisms, but hell anything that is disruptive of the establishment, of the status quo will earn criticism. Because Man’s deepest fear is of the unknown – and because one thing that any change is bound to bring is a dose of the unknown.
I believe in open communication and the free flow of ideas. That is why I support the Internet, Wikipedia, free software, free culture, Transparency International, Amnesty International, the EFF and WikiLeaks. And this is why I oppose patents and Copyrights as control mechanisms.
Instead of shielding people from ideas and communication, one should seek to help people handle ideas and communication better. Ideas and communication are inherently difficult to control, and all to often abuse follow in the wake of such attempts.
“Information control isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a confession of weakness“. Intentions to strengthen oneself on behalf of others underlies such weakness. In a truly free society, there is no space for government secrecy, information manipulation or hiding of truths.
“Light itself is a great corrective. A thousand wrongs and abuses that are grown in darkness disappear, like owls and bats, before the light of day“. —James A. Garfield.